Women & Art Project: Transferring ceramic art hobbies into a future income

With the kick-off meeting held last December at the University of Ardahan, in the far north-east of Turkey on the border with Armenia and Georgia, the Erasmus+ project “Women & Art”, approved by the Turkish Erasmus+ program authorities and which sees the University of Ardahan as Lead Partner, the Ankara Point company as organizational consultant and the AEuCC (European Grouping of Cities of Ceramics) as consultant in the sector and communication.
The project involves 5 countries and 9 partners for 2 years: wmn&ART aims at supporting inactive women in developing home-based micro enterprises, with a particular focus on ceramicart and craft activities, increasing wealth in European society.

“wmn&ART – Integrated e-training & e-guiding for inactive women for transferring their art hobbies in to their future income” is a project co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union, under the Key Action 2 Cooperation for Innovation and the Exchange of Good Practices – Strategic Partnerships for vocational education and training.

The project focuses on these specific objectives:

  • Supporting inactive, art-talented women in transforming their hobbies into a remunerative home-based activity, encouraging self-employment with the aim of producing a regular income;
  • Improving their mental health and family communication by involving their children and relatives in the activity;
  • Provide further/specific professional training and business opportunities to women selected as “Art Mentors” with the task of empowering their peers by supporting their home-based art and craft activities.

Xavier Morant, president of AEuCC, commented on wmn&ART that “It is a project that combines in an excellent way subjects which are important and dear to us, namely economic development and training in the sector of artistic and traditional ceramics that is combined, in this case, with the right attention to the independence and professional gratification of the female world, whose sensitivity and ability in the artistic and artisan field is widespread although never promoted enough.”

“It is a project that testifies – states Giuseppe Olmeti, Secretary and Project Director of AeuCC – the level of European integration and appreciation of the work carried out by AEuCC in European design applied to the ceramic sector and in particular of communication and management of networking on a large scale ladder.”

Partners of this project are 9 organizations from 5 different countries:

Ardahan University was established with the Law No. 5765 adopted by the Grand National Assembly on 22 May 2008 and took the first step towards becoming a world university. In the footsteps of art, science and knowledge, with the aim of illuminating the problems of the region and the country as well as the problems of the international community by seeking information, learning, producing and sharing, it continues to evolve with each passing day.

GaleriM Armada was founded in 2013 by the ceramic artist Meral Öztürk. GaleriM focuses on the Art-Life unity: in order to foster a sharing process with the audience, the GalleryM is located within the Armada Shopping Mall. The most important goal of GaleriM is to create a satisfying and aesthetic experience, bringing art lovers together with artists and art objects.

Mojmírovce Manor House (MMH) was established in 1994. MMH has long term experiences from business running in areas concerning hospitality services as well as organizing art workshops and conferences for artists, trainings, seminars for women, youngsters and also disadvantaged groups for better adaptation to the society and better employability. Great deal of MMH activities are devoted to culture – especially visual art.

POINT is an engineering company operating in the sector since 1977 both in Turkey and overseas, following the philosophy that “Engineering is Mathematical Expression of Life & Improvement of Future”. POINT activity range varies from small to medium sized contracts executed with both the government and with the private sector organizations. POINT is the technical partner of this project.

Centro Tecnológico do Calçado de Portugal (CTCP) is a non-profit organization, founded in 1986. The main objectives are to provide technical and technological support to companies in the footwear sector and related or complementary sectors; to promote the technical and technological training of the human resources of companies; to promote the improvement of the quality of industrial products and processes; to prepare and disseminate technical information to the industry; to carry out and streamline research, development and demonstration work.

Tüm Avrupa Kadınları Kültürel İşbirliği ve Dayanışma Derneği (TAKIDD) is a non-profit organization with the goal of reinforcing cultural interaction and exchange between Turkish and European women in social, economic and cultural areas.

Social Projects Institute is based in Kaunas (Lithuania), it is a non-governmental organization and its mission is creating and implementing of social projects for public benefit: “Together we are creating the world”.

The Association of Active and Talented Women Targeting Potent Careers (ZARIF) is a non-profit organization whose purposes are mainly addressed to the promotion of self development of women, including disadvantaged women, for better employability and for their career development, by providing informal and non formal training opportunities.

Agrupación Europea de Cooperación Territorial Ciudades de la Cerámica is a European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation created in 2014 that groups together the Associations of Cities of Ceramics in Europe, based in Italy (AiCC), France (AfCC), Spain (AeCC), Romania (ArCC) and Czech Republic (AczCC).

The kick off meeting of the wmn&art project was held in Ardahan (Turkey), on the 17th and 18th of December 2019, gathering members of all the partner organizations.

The partners discussed the general aim of the project, visited the Ardahan University and in particular the ceramic course.

Most of all, the partners focussed on the target groups of the wmn&art project:

  1. The first target group consists of inactive women who are art talented; willing to deal with ceramics art handicrafts as a hobby and develop themselves in this art line; bring their children into this scenario for encouraging them to also enjoy arts, improve in-family communication via art exercising, strengthening mental relaxing and mental health of both themselves and their kids; sell their art products for receiving a regular income in the form of a part-time employment/self-employment. The essential keyword here that primary target group are “enthusiastic” and “dedicated” besides bearing natural “talent” and “basic skills”. We name them CHMEs in wmn&ART, originating from “Ceramic Handicraft Micro Entrepreneurs“.
  2. The second target group, the “Art Mentors“, will also benefit from the project in many ways, including receiving further professional development in mentoring skills. They will have the option to exploit mentoring training from wmn&ART, collaborate with other mentors within art focused activities and mentoring, establish mentoring relationship with their mentees (CHMEs).

The first step of the wmn&art project is, therefore, to administer a questionnaire to potential Art Mentors, to assess their training needs and to form the target group.

At a further stage of development, the project foresees a wmn&ART e-Course, equivalent to four weeks course for ceramic handicraft micro entrepreneurs, and one week course for Art Mentors. The Art Mentors who will take and complete the wmn&ART e-course will be able to use the acquired mentoring techniques to guide their mentees, who are potential micro entrepreneur women.

To gather all the materials produced, and foster a continuous exchange of knowledge and communication, the project also foresees a wmn&ART Web Platform, a functioning service platform for offering complete project concept, outputs and valorization features.

With these tools, in 2 years time, the project is going to foster employment of disadvantaged women in the project countries and in Europe in general, but it will also boost the art and craft ceramic sector, which is a pivotal part of our cultural heritage. 

The kick off meeting

Portrait of Istanbul ceramics