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Reviving the Vanishing Art forms in India

To act as a facilitator to bridge access to markets for products, mainly vanishing art forms produced by marginalized communities in India.

Photo of Lipika Kapoor
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

There are many vulnerable & poverty-ridden communities who possess art & craft based skills such as handicraft, paintings, etc that is central to India’s tradition & culture. But unfortunately, there are not enough opportunities for them to market & be able to make a living out of it. Having a proper channel will not only improve their living standard but will also contribute to reviving the diminishing arts & crafts in India & protect India’s heritage. The objective of this project is to develop an online portal & list products developed by different communities thus building a market linkage between sellers & buyers. The idea is to ensure that these marginalized communities do not give up on the skill & knowledge that has been accumulated over years & ensuring they get a fair price for it. We will identify & partner with multiple NGOs who are already working in the area of safeguarding existing art forms & crafts. IFMR LEAD will identify, manage & bring resource partners to create an online portal. We will be working closely with the NGOs to carefully assess requirements of artisans to find the best way to market different products & arrive at a fair price. We will anchor the ideation, creation & initial hand-holding of this portal till one or more NGOs are prepared to handle the portal themselves. This grant will help the portal to achieve a break-even stage where we will be facilitating the activities, post which the portal is expected to become self-sustainable. Some of the anticipated challenges include identification of art forms who are at the verge of extinction. Many NGOs working in this space have identified such art forms & are working closely with these communities to identify better markets. Additionally, since the products associated will be unique in nature like handicrafts, folk music albums, paintings, printed handlooms, etc determining the right pricing & marketing strategies will be a challenge & we hope to bring experts together to address this.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

The beneficiaries are the excluded communities who, due to lack of access to market, are not able to find buyers for their products locally, and are thus migrating to different cities for finding other employment opportunities with a better scope of income and livelihood. These people are leaving rich heritage behind and some of these communities are perhaps the last generation to know the minutiae of these family/communal art forms. This knowledge may not end up being passed on to the next generation as it is extremely difficult for these artisans to find the right price for their products. For instance, Kathaputli from Rajasthan, Kundhei from Orissa, Toda embroidery from Nilgiris, etc. are at a great risk of getting extinct in a few years. Since preparing the artifacts is not profitable enough for these communities, they are moving to other cities in search of other employment opportunities for themselves.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

There are many organizations who are working with communities to revive many art forms, but they are working in geographically smaller pockets in a more disaggregated way. Some examples include the Indian Foundation for the Arts (IFA), Arts For India and so on. However, we want to create a national-level platform where such organizations while working independently, also come together to create more visibility for the products produced by these communities in order to strengthen the supply and cater to the demand. This platform seeks to have a pan India approach where we will work closely with the government and policymakers from the initial stage itself, who will be our advisors and will assist us to create a network of people sharing similar synergies.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Initial Design: I am exploring the idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

IFMR LEAD is a non-profit research organization focused on policy-oriented, scalable action research to promote inclusive and sustainable development in India and other Low and Middle Income Countries. Website:

Expertise in sector

  • 1-2 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

We came across a few NGOs who were working closely with vanishing art form creators to help address challenges like fundraising, lack of visibility, poor packaging, etc. We felt that these NGOs are working at a more localised level and if such smaller units received support in an organised way from a national-level aggregator with support from government and policy makers, then that would help them reach scale. This led to the idea of creating a portal for reviving vanishing art forms in India.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

There are many vulnerable and marginalized communities possessing skills that have been passed on from generations that are very intrinsic to India’s heritage. Such activities are not only a means of earning income and livelihood but gives a chance to the downtrodden section of the society to feel included as a community that encourages peaceful co-existence. This online platform will allow such communities to continue the generational occupation which allows them to earn a decent income and standard of living from their work. This will bring prosperity to current and future generations of artisans and their communities as a whole.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

We expect to be working alongside many implementation NGOs who will help us understand the localized context and also connect us with the representatives of the communities and artists. NGOs would help us create a database of products produced by different communities they work with locally. We will then create a catalogue based on product’s make, price and stories of people making them. We will use story-telling as a medium to brand and promote the product as art is a lot about where it comes. The partner NGOs will also help us to track these stories, maintain a minimum inventory, logistics and transportation of products to buyers. We will also engage with relevant government ministries, local government bodies and groups of experts to involve them in the on-going project discussions.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Artisans have many different identities based on their geographical location, inheritance & knowledge of work. Such diversity brings variety & creativity in the final products and thus provides choice to the art lovers across India.Being able to hold onto the family legacy is a matter of huge pride for many artisans.More than 75% of artisans reside in rural areas & are aware of the local context.Such localised knowledge ensures that they can produce outputs at competitive rates using local resou

Geographic Focus

Pan India, particularly focussing on regions where these art forms reside.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

Total: 28 months Conceptualizing(2 mnth): Making contact with NGO partners & on-boarding Project Design(4 mnth): Literature Review; Listing of art forms & artisans; Understanding challenges; Portal designs & finalizing service offerings; Learning Plan Execution(18 mnth): Development of portal; User testing; Supply chain operations; Monitoring; Developing sustainable model for portal Dissemination(2 mnth): Communicating learnings to stakeholders Conclusion(2 mnth): Wrapping up; Final report

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No


Join the conversation:

Photo of Our Workshop

Hello great thinking... We may have a workable methodology for you to look at.
Please see Our Workshop: Making Togetherness and let's chat.

I personally have a great passion for traditional craft and finding ways to 'catch' them before they all go... We need to make this activity - CRAFT and design - cool to the younger audiences and this is working at Our Workshop in Cape Town

Many thanks,
Heath Nash 

Photo of Lipika Kapoor

Hi Heath,

Thanks so much for your comment. Your work looks very interesting and you seem to share the same passion as our idea. We would love to hear more from you and discuss this further. Do you think we can get on a call/skype?


Photo of Our Workshop

Hi Lipika

We could try with email first? Also, facebook is an easy way to converse?? Do you use this? is our email and we are ourworkshopct on facebook and instagram...