CityNews Article Archive:
Chiang Mai Creative City and the British Council Team-up for ‘handmade chiangmai

August 21, 2012

CityNews – The first phase of the Chiang Mai Digital Crafts Project, ‘handmade chiangmai’ is on the way. This is a new partnership between the British Council Thailand and the Chiang Mai Creative City Initiative. The launch event will take place on Wednesday August 22nd, 6:30pm at OP Place, Chiang Mai followed by a 1 day seminar on August 23rd, 8:30am to 5 p.m. at the Le Méridien Chiang Mai. 

“handmade chiangmai” presents an interactive digital showcase of the rich history, variety and quality of the Chiang Mai craft industry – with an initial hand-picked selection of textiles, ceramics and wood producers. In addition to the website, there is an interactive exhibition at OP Place (until September 20) which enables more interaction with the extraordinary range of handmade crafts produced in the region.

The partnership between British Council Thailand and the Chiang Mai Creative City (CMCC) initiative includes the following as project partners: the Technology Development Center for Industry (TDCI) and the College of Arts, Media and Technology (CAMT), both of Chiang Mai University, and the Northern Handicrafts Manufacturers and Exporters Association (NOHMEX).

The overall project, Chiang Mai Digital Crafts, aims to promote Chiang Mai’s creative industries, particularly in the tourism and crafts sectors. It does so by integrating creativity, technology and local wisdom, allowing local businesses to become more competitive in their own right. The project also encourages the development of the creative economy through an active collaboration between Thailand and the U.K in an exchange of knowledge, practice, expertise and technology.

The project represents a significant long term investment and commitment from the British Council in Thailand, and is a great example of how the UK’s cultural relations organisation works in practice to support the creative economy. As well as investing grant funding from its Creative and Cultural Economy programme fund, the British Council has also facilitated a range of UK experts from the sector to help shape and develop the project. To date, leading UK creative sector companies including Cockpit Arts, CultureLabel and Inition have been to Chiang Mai to support the project team on different aspects of the project delivery. 

Chris Gibson, the Country Director of British Council, Thailand summarizes: “handmade chiangmai is a practical example of our Creative and Cultural Economy programme work in action, developing an innovative project with innovative partners to deliver a real commitment to the creative economy in Northern Thailand”.

Associate Professor Dr. Nat Vorayos of the Chiang Mai Creative City Development Committee elaborates further on the benefits of this project: “It is this collaboration between government organisations, international partners, private companies and the education sector that Chiang Mai Creative City seeks to promote and we are excited to see the outputs of such collaboration here today and live in action.”

This project is an excellent contribution to Chiang Mai’s crafts industries, but also important to other sectors such as tourism; culture, arts and heritage; and digital content. Chiang Mai Creative City hopes that everybody is inspired by the innovative use of digital technologies AND storytelling to showcase to the rest of Thailand and indeed the world what is so extraordinary about Chiang Mai. “I hope that all NOHMEX members take notice and explore the website and visit the exhibition” says Khun Premruedee Kullasu, President of NOHMEX. 

The project also helps to cross implement cultural bridges and provides artisans and craft companies really good case studies on how to tell stories about crafts and their business. Many buyers now look for originality, authenticity and a story. A product without a story is far less interesting than with a story about its origins, the creation process, etc. 

Looking ahead, the project and the partnership between the British Council Thailand and the Chiang Mai Creative City initiative is planned to continue, involving more partners both from the UK and Thailand. The next phase will further develop handmade chiangmai, continuing the support of both the crafts and digital technology sectors of Northern Thailand.