Kala Raksha Vidyalaya

Case studies, Education/Learning, Organisations, Institutions, Movements, Safeguarding, Endangered

Kala Raksha Vidyalaya: An Institute of Design for Traditional Artisans

Frater, Judy


Executive Summary

  • Income Generation
  • Deeper Issues
  • Concept of the Design School for Artisans
  • Rationale and Structure
  • Building Market Knowledge and Market Linkages
  • Funding
  • Design Instruction and Institutional Links


  • Construction of Facilities
  • CAD Center
  • Equipment and Tools
  • Kala Raksha Museum
  • Conservation of Objects
  • Mobilization


  • Objectives
  • Expected Results
  • Project Management and Expertise
  • Marketing Experts
  • Faculty Trainees
  • Mentors


  • Business Plan and Marketing Strategy
  • Establishing Data Bases
  • Developing Market Orientation and Teacher Training



  • Instruction
  • Participants
  • Expected Outcomes
  • Course Content
  • Convocation/ Jury/ Exhibition
  • Future Plans



◊ Kala Raksha Vidyalaya Trustees and Advisors

Executive Summary
Kala Raksha is establishing a design school for working traditional artisans of Kutch. This educational institution, whose environment, curriculum and methodology are designed to be appropriate for traditional artisans, is intended to model a new approach to the rejuvenation of traditional arts. Project Coordinator of Kala Raksha, Judy Frater, has been awarded an Ashoka Foundation Fellowship to realize the project. Following is the plan for the inaugural courses, which will start in August.Background


In 1993, Kala Raksha was formed as a registered Society and Trust, whose mission is to preserve and present cultures of ethnic communities of Kutch, India, through their traditional arts, in order to encourage understanding and appreciation.

Income generation is the first priority of the artisan constituency. Proactive, Kala Raksha facilitates the transformation of traditional arts into contemporary products by involving women artisans in the design, pricing and marketing of their own products. Artisan initiative and artisan participation have been the pillars of Kala Raksha’s work from the beginning. In this way, the Trust encourages artisans’ creativity.

Since its inception, Kala Raksha has dovetailed the collection and preservation of traditional pieces with this work. The Trust maintains a Resource Center and Museum. Two features of this Museum make it unique. First, the Museum is based in the village itself, so that artisans have access to and responsibility for it. Artisans utilize the collections to develop new collections with cultural integrity. Second, artisans were involved in all phases of the development of the Museum. They assisted in collection, were engaged in documentation, and consulted in the permanent exhibition. The Kala Raksha Museum successfully proves the mutual benefits of involving communities in presenting and utilizing their own cultures.

Income Generation
The authentic basis of Kala Raksha’s artisan-designed process has enabled the Trust to establish a line of unique, vibrant products that is quickly recognized and widely appreciated even in the intensely competitive market for Kutch crafts. Following fair trade practices, Kala Raksha provides attractive incomes to over 600 women artisans, and in addition is able to sustain income related expenses without depending on external subsidy.

Demand for Kala Raksha products is growing in India and abroad. Throughout Indian metropolitan areas Kala Raksha has established brand recognition through direct sale “exhibitions.” The client base is educated, conscious of environmental and fair trade issues, middle to high income. In addition, many clients purchase the products for resale. International clients are being developed through website exposure and outreach activities such as workshop and trunk show tours. Kala Raksha has held trunk shows at the Peabody Museum, Harvard, and the Smithsonian Institution. In 2004, artisans attended the first international Folk Art Market in Santa Fe.

Deeper Issues
However, in spite of its success in sustaining local art and artisans, Kala Raksha sees long term sustainability of traditional arts as a critical issue.

Traditional crafts in India have in the last few decades undergone tremendous change. With the shift from local to distant markets, market driven professional design has become an essential entity separate from the production of art. However, traditional artisans rarely gain access to contemporary formal training in design due to social and financial barriers. Often, this situation reduces the artisan to labourer, in terms of both income and social status. Further, artisan social mobility is limited by low education; and the perceived irrelevance of available education perpetuates the status quo.

Two needs simultaneously emerge: traditional arts must be revitalized and adapted to their new clientele. And, if we wish to foster genuine sustainability, artisans as well as their arts must adapt. Finally, artisans must be capable of addressing their own issues.

To facilitate this shift of market, and relationship to the new market, and to maximize their earning through craft on a long term basis, artisans must learn to innovate, diversify and improve their work appropriate to that new market. Thus, relevant education must address and interlink understanding of traditional crafts, contemporary design input, and marketing. To address these issues, and the needs of artisans, Kala Raksha is establishing Kala Raksha Vidyalaya, a Design School for artisans of Kutch.

Concept of Kala Raksha Vidyalaya
Kala Raksha Vidyalaya is an educational institution with a direct marketing link, open to working artisans of Kutch, conservatively estimated at 50,000. The school is unique in that its environment, curriculum and methodology are designed to be appropriate for adult artisans with a vast existing body of traditional knowledge. The focus is on acquiring knowledge and skills that can be directly applied in the artisan’s own art to enable innovation appropriate to contemporary markets, and the effectiveness will be tested in regular market meets with the commercial sector.

Rationale and Structure
Working artisans rarely have the luxury of leaving their home and profession for long periods of time. Therefore, the curriculum will be designed as a series of workshops which are conducted over a period of one to two years in a residential local setting.

It is envisioned that when the Vidyalaya is fully functioning, there will be 96 full time participants and 150 short term participants, a total of 246 participants per year.

Building Market Knowledge and Linkages
To insure that the education is effective and to address the primary need of craft: income generation, marketing will be an integral part of the program.

Market Linkages are planned in several ways: Instruction from design and marketing professionals, visits of tour groups from domestic and international metropolitan areas, a final jury comprised of buyers and other market experts.

Kala Raksha has well established links to funding agencies. The Vidyalaya has initiated a separate funding program. With funds generously donated from the Kernel Trust, Oxford, U.K. and All Together Now International, Colorado, USA, Kala Raksha purchased eight acres of land in a peaceful rural setting outside Tunda Vandh a Rabari village near the coast of the Gulf of Kutch, and constructed a spacious guest house from which the Vidyalaya will commence operations.

With generous funding from The Development Commissioner Handicrafts, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, Kala Raksha has purchased equipment for a Computer Design Lab including a digital camera, scanner and colour printer as well as three computers. Studios for weaving, printing, dyeing, embroidery and appliqué, and a tailoring/sampling unit have also been established. For the pilot courses these areas will also serve as display areas.

In addition, the Development Commissioner Handicrafts has funded upgradation of Kala Raksha’s Textile Museum.

Funding for the pilot courses has been generously provided by UNESCO and the Development Commissioner Handicrafts.

Design Instructions and Institutional Links
Kala Raksha has well established links with premier Indian design institutions, including the National Institution of Design (NID), the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Srishti Design Institute, and the Indian Institute of Crafts & Design. Faculty from NID and NIFT are advisors in establishing Kala Raksha Vidyalaya. The Trust is utilizing these links to evolve an appropriate curriculum and build a corps of Visiting Faculty for the Vidyalaya.

In addition, Project Director and Ashoka Fellow Judy Frater has mobilized a team including faculty from the Fashion Institute of Technology, NY, and the Rhode Island School of Design to begin work on curriculum design. A curriculum for Kala Raksha Vidyalaya was drawn up after a meeting held in September 2004 at the Rhode Island School of Design, under Ashoka Foundation sponsorship. Kala Raksha Vidyalaya is now ready to conduct a series of pilot workshops, which will help to refine the curriculum as a coherent educational program.


Eight acres were purchased between the jointly governed villages of Tunda and Vandh, in Mundra Taluka, Kutch. The land has been converted to Non Agriculture use and approval has been given by the local authorities for construction.

A plan for the entire institution has been drawn up by Architect R. J. Vasavada, Ahmedabad. Details have been approved by local authorities for the Phase I, a guest house for visiting faculty. Construction funded by Kala Raksha’s earthquake rehabilitation fund has been completed. Final details such as flooring, sanitary fittings and colour are in process.

This building includes four double rooms with full bathrooms, a large courtyard, three lounge rooms, and a smaller entrance courtyard. It will be ready for use by May 2005. It is planned that the first year of pilot workshops will be conducted on these premises, with the lounge and courtyard areas serving as computer lab, sampling unit and classroom areas until the main building is constructed.

Funding for remaining construction must be raised. Kala Raksha has received approval under FCRA for collection of donations in foreign currency. The fund raising campaign will be launched early in the 2005-2006 fiscal year.

Cad Center
A Computer Aided Design Center is a vital part of the educational program. To date, five computers with five UPS, two printers, a scanner, and a digital camera have been purchased for the CAD center. Of these, one computer and printer are for administrative use, two computers will serve as data bases for the artisan participants, to access museum collections and market data bases, and to showcase the artisans’ work. Two will be for use in learning computer aided design. The scanner and digital camera will also be for student use. The computers and peripherals will all be networked.

The computer aided design center will be set up in one of the classrooms of the existing structure.

Equipment Tools
Equipment and tools needed to begin pilot workshops include a loom with a variety of heddles, equipment for a block printing studio, equipment for a dyeing studio, and two sewing machines for sampling. Installation of the studios outside of the existing building on the campus is in process.

Display Structure
The display structure will be incorporated into the installation of the above mentioned studios. This work has been designed, and will take place early in the 2005-2006 fiscal year.


Workshop with International Expert on Information Storage and Conservation
Ms. Maryann Sadagopan, Collections Care Specialist at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston conducted a workshop in Kala Raksha’s folk textile museum from 23 February to 31 March, 2005. Five local staff persons were trained in the use of digital collections management software and preservation of objects.

The software PastPerfect, designed for small museum collections, was introduced to India for the first time at Kala Raksha. This software enables digitization of collections records with up to 999 photos per record. (see Annexure 2). The implication for use of collections is vast. Now, Kala Raksha’s holdings can be easily available to the artisans for whom they are a resource. They can also be accessible to researchers anywhere in the world.

The software will also enable archiving of design work done by any students.

In addition, Ms. Sadagopan conducted training in conservation methods and options. Ms. Sadagopan worked with Kala Raksha to draw up a specific plan for our collections. Archival materials and professional museum conservation tools were purchased. An oversized storage cabinet was made for large rolled textiles. The Five staff persons were trained in handling and storage of textiles, and appropriate re-housing of heritage textiles.

Modernization of Museum
In order to upgrade the information storage and retrieval system, PastPerfect software and its companion networking software, were purchased directly from the company at a discounted rate. A digital camera was purchased as well.

Re-design of exhibition areas appropriate to the future site of the museum is in process with senior Designer Pradip Sinha.

A first draft of the curriculum for Kala Raksha Vidyalaya has been drawn up, following a meeting of experts held at the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence RI (USA) in September 2004. The meeting was funded by the Ashoka Foundation. A copy of the report is has been sent. Sangita Shroff, Chairperson, Department of Fashion Design, National Institute of Fashion Technology, Gandhinagar, has been identified to serve as Curriculum Development Coordinator.


Educational Programs and Development and Design Based on Collections
Museum based educational programs and development of designs based on collections was implemented through a Design Development Workshop coordinated by Sangita Shroff, and facilitated by Ms. Shroff, and Senior Designers J. L. Nayak and Rashida Tyebjee. The workshop utilized Kala Raksha museum collections as an inspiration for new designs.

The new information retrieval system initiated in the Museum Workshop was utilized by artisans in this design workshop, and proved most useful. The Design workshop taught artisans to innovate in a conscious manner, toward making new collections. As it was conducted by Ms. Sangita Shroff, it doubled as input for developing the Kala Raksha Vidyalaya curriculum.


Infrastructure is the heart of any institution. Prior to conducting the pilot courses, Kala Raksha will work with Aid to Artisans and local experts to build Kala Raksha’s capacity to 1) develop a business plan, 2) provide market-oriented design education to artisans, and 3) develop and expand marketing opportunities. ATA will share experience and market links to build the capacity of Kala Raksha. The design and marketing expertise provided through this project will enable marketing inputs from the institution’s inception, in order to frame the content and methods of the educational program and monitor its pilot implementation. This phase will be generously funded by UNESCO.

Working with marketing experts to establish a marketing resource center and develop a coherent set of activities linking design and marketing, Kala Raksha will build its capacity to reach to the education and information needs of artisans of Kutch. Thus artisans will become active agents in developing traditional arts for new markets on a sustainable basis, and increase their income to viability.

Kala Raksha will be strengthened as an institution able to serve artisans and buyers. In two years, Kala Raksha Vidyalaya should be able to attract artisans from Kutch, and buyers to establish links with alumni. Process documentation will sustain the project, draw artisans and buyers, and magnet funding.

The following outputs will ensure the sustainability of the project:

  1. Comprehensive Business plan
  2. A Marketing strategy and linkages
  3. Databases for a marketing resource center and web marketing facility for alumni
  4. Training of staff and faculty
  5. Successful completion of two pilot comprehensive classes- with marketing meets
  6. Documentation of Curriculum, Teacher Training and Instructional materials


Kala Raksha Vidyalaya has established a Board of Advisors in India, in addition to Kala Raksha’s Board of Trustees (see list). The project management team will be composed of Judy Frater, Ashoka Fellow and Kala Raksha Vidyalaya Project Director; the ATA Asia Representatives; and Kala Raksha Advisors M.P. Ranjan, National Institute of Design Faculty and Sangita Shroff, National Institute of Fashion Technology Faculty. Additional expertise includes: Aleta Margolis, Director of the Center for Inspired Teaching, and Krishna Patel, former Faculty, NID.

Marketing Experts
Five Indian Marketing Experts will be invited to work with the international Marketing Expert and the Faculty Trainees. The workshop will establish the quality of the education to be provided in a pioneering institution, which aims to make a significant contribution to the revitalization of craft traditions. Therefore successful, cutting edge individuals in the field of contemporary craft will be sought.

Faculty Trainees
Two visiting Faculty members will instruct during each on-campus session. Thus, ten Faculty will participate in the Market Orientation/ Teacher Training. Professional designers and teachers of design with connections to premier institutions such as NID, NIFT and Srishti will be invited to teach in the pilot courses. For cost efficiency, whenever possible, faculty will be encouraged to instruct two continuous sessions.

Faculty will be selected with the following criteria in mind

Expertise in the content of the course .
Teaching experience and expertise

Experience in working with the rural sector
Familiarity with the media of the class

These two persons will hold essential positions in Kala Raksha Vidyalaya as they will act as the link between the educators and the participants, insuring the effectiveness of instruction. They will also be the permanent faculty while the visiting faculty vary.



Business Plan and Marketing Strategy
Two International Experts will be sent through Aid To Artisans.

An Information and Marketing Expert will spend two weeks on the Kala Raksha Vidyalaya campus. S/he will work one week with the Project Director, Kala Raksha Chief Executive, Project Coordinator, and Curriculum Development Coordinator to:

  1. Develop a Business Plan that insures that the school is sustainable and that its students increase income from their improved market knowledge and linkages,
  2. Establish a marketing strategy, and
  3. Finalize plans for the following week’s workshop.

Establishing Data Bases
The Information and Marketing Expert will also coordinate with two Indian Data Base creation specialists to initiate the establishment of data bases for the Institution, including: Materials Data Base, Artisan Data Base, Buyers Data Base, Designer and Design Faculty Data Base, and an Alumni web-based Marketing Data Base.

The local specialists will work for four months with two data entry trainees in setting up the data bases. The trainees will continue for two years in maintaining the data bases and instructing and assisting the artisan participants in its use. They will also facilitate use of the computer aided design lab, and will be the part of the core permanent staff of Kala Raksha Vidyalaya.

Developing Market Orientation and Teacher Training
In the second week, the Information and Marketing Expert will be joined by an International Faculty Trainer, the Curriculum Development Coordinator and five Indian Marketing Experts. This team will work with the ten Visiting Faculty selected for the year and two Mentors in a week long workshop to insure that the education provided will be 1). Marketing oriented, and 2) appropriate to the artisan participants.

Faculty will be prepared to incorporate market orientation in the education they provide, and to link that perspective to the artisan view. They will be prepared to teach in creative, inspiring, problem-centered methods, to participants who have highly developed skills and knowledge in a particular craft.

As part of the teacher training, the Faculty will stay in Tunda Vandh, the nearby village. The orientation will involve observations in the village, and exercises and discussions regarding local methods of problem solving.

PARTICIPANTS-28 Develop Business plan Marketing Strategy Create Data Bases Documentation Market Oriented Teacher Training Create Data Bases Documentation
Project Director X X X
KR Chief Executive X X X
Project Coordinator X X X
Curriculum Dev. Coordinator X X X
Intl. Marketing Expert X X X X X
Intl. Teacher Trainer X
Local Data Base Specialist X X
Local Data Base Specialist X X
Data Entry Trainee X X
Data Entry Trainee X X
Local Marketing Expert X
Local Marketing Expert X
Local Marketing Expert X
Local Marketing Expert X
Local Marketing Expert X
Mentor X
Mentor X
Faculty Trainee X
Faculty Trainee X
Faculty Trainee X
Faculty Trainee X
Faculty Trainee X
Faculty Trainee X
Faculty Trainee X
Faculty Trainee X
Faculty Trainee X
Faculty Trainee X
Videographer X X


Following the UNESCO/ Aid to Artisans preparations, Kala Raksha Vidyalaya will hold two complete pilot courses, one for male artisans and one for female artisans. The courses will be structured in a series of two-week workshops. Each class of 15 artisans will attend five workshops held over a period of one year. The two courses will be conducted back to back, for efficiency. This phase is generously funded by the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Government of India.

Workshop topics, as follows, will form a comprehensive course of market-oriented design education. Together, they will build the knowledge and skills of participants so that upon completion, artisans will become active agents in developing traditional arts for new markets on a sustainable basis, and increase their income to viability.

The course will aim to enable participants to create collections, which will be exhibited at a convocation mela juried by buyers and market experts, and open to the public. Thus, it will firmly establish the link between market and design, and demonstrate the utility of design education.

Instructors will have participated in the workshop with international and national Market Resource persons to insure a market focus in the education. Prior to each session, one of the Market Expert team will work specifically with the Curriculum Coordinator, Mentors and Faculty for that session, to insure that the course is market oriented. Hands-on marketing activities will be a part of each course. These will include: Input from instructors working in the field, visits of tour groups from domestic and international metropolitan areas, and exposure trips for artisans to major metropolitan centers.

Two permanent faculty members, participant Mentors will assist in session instruction. During the off-campus interims between sessions, they will make periodic visits to participants’ homes to insure coherence and see that information is understood and implemented.

Groups of artisans from local traditional craft backgrounds will be selected by their aptitude and interest. The pilot classes will be 15 artisans each, from textile crafts.
In the male class, weaving, resist printing, bandhani, and roghan artisans will attend. In the female class, embroidery, patchwork and appliqué artisans will attend.

Composition of the classes will be determined on the basis of experience level, and method of working. To insure the effectiveness of the workshops in teacher training and refining the curriculum, as well as in creating a successful model, experienced participants will be solicited in the pilot courses.

While it is intended that Kala Raksha Vidyalaya be a fee based institution, DC(H) funding of the pilot workshops includes stipends for the participants. The stipends will serve as a scholarships to enable initiation of the institute.

Following the pilots, criteria and method of selection of participants for the Vidyalaya will be formalized.

The overall goals for the course of study are articulated as follows:

  • Artisans will be able to significantly improve their income
  • Artisans will be conscious of their own traditions and be able to articulate them.
  • Artisans will be capable of evaluation/ critical judgment
  • Artisans will be able to define and assess different markets
  • Artisans will be capable of innovation within traditions for the market
  • Artisans will be capable of information gathering/ accessing resources
  • Artisans will be capable of developing and communicating concepts
  • Artisans will be capable of solving design problems
  • Artisans will be capable of presentation of concepts/ products
  • Artisans will be confident of learning to learn

Session 1
Colour, Basic Design, and Sourcing from Nature and Heritage
Artisans will learn how colour is perceived and used, how to create colours and colour combinations for different effects. They will learn basic design fundamentals: aesthetics, composition, pattern, proportion, and design visual systems. They will learn to manipulate and experiment with the materials and techniques specific to their own media. They will learn to source inspiration from nature and their own heritage.
Work with Kala Raksha’s CAD center and handicraft museum is part of this session.

Session 2
Market Orientation, Concept, Costing
Artisans will learn to discern different markets, and the role of the market in guiding innovation. They will learn to discern and define concepts. They will learn how to cost their work with regard to appropriate standards.

This session includes work with market data bases developed through the UNESCO project, and a field trip to Mumbai for practical application of the content, which will be funded by UNESCO.

Session 3
Concept, Communication, Projects and Technical Input
Artisans will learn how to create concepts, collections and product lines. They will learn how to effectively communicate through their own media. They will work on problem solving and begin planning for their final collection. Further work with CAD, and technical inputs are part of this session.

Session 4
Finishing, Merchandising
Artisans will learn the importance of finishing and detailing, and techniques for enhancing their work. They will learn how to create product identity through labeling, packaging, and how to enhance sales through such factors. Pricing will be re-examined.

Session 5
Artisans will learn the importance of presentation in creating value. They will practice hands-on methods of display and critique.

Following the completion of both courses the annual convocation event, comprising a combined exhibition, will be held on the Kala Raksha Vidyalaya campus. This event will be funded through UNESCO.

Each participant will display his/her collection. Participants’ work will be juried by buyers and marketing experts and the event will also be open to the public. Market links developed through the UNESCO capacity building project will be utilized to bring the market to the Vidyalaya.

UNESCO funding will continue for a second year.
During year 2, the success of the school in meeting targets of the business plan will be carefully reviewed and, as necessary, activities of the Vidyalaya fine tuned. Sales of products developed by participants will be monitored and new buyers and participants will be targeted.

UNESCO funding in year two includes a second round of faculty and Data Entry Training. Concentrating on the Trainees will help Kala Raksha build its capacity to enable artisans to access our resources. Funding for curriculum development on market orientation to product design, development, pricing and marketing, and for printing curriculum materials for KRV use and distribution are covered in the second year. A second marketing field trip and convocation/ mela are also funded.

A table of the course plan, with tentative dates, and the budget for the pilots follow.

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