Originally posted on The Washington Post
SANTA FE, N.M. — For 10 years the International Folk Art Market has brought some of the world’s finest artisans from far-flung and often poverty-stricken locales to peddle their wares in the well-heeled, artistic mountain town of Santa Fe.
The show has brought in millions of dollars for the artists, many of whom have gone home to start businesses that employ other mostly impoverished women from developing countries. But it has also helped draw attention to what officials with a new State Department-backed alliance say is one of the largest but most ignored global industries.
“The artisan sector is the second-largest employer in the developing world, after agriculture,” said Peggy Clark, co-chair of The Alliance for Artisan Enterprise and vice president of the Aspen Institute. “But it’s just not thought of as a driver of economic growth.”
To try to change that, the State Department last year launched the alliance in partnership with the Aspen Institute. Members include the folk market, retailers, even giants corporations like Coca-Cola and Wal-Mart.
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