A craft market is an inspiring event. Whether you are the maker or the consumer, there are important and meaningful experiences occurring amongst the rows of tables and displays. Relationships are forged, values are shared and purposeful connections are made. They also give us the chance for renewal – as consumers they can change your home, outfit, or day, and as artists, craft markets can provide the chance to get feedback and keep trying new art.
A strong community is one that supports its artists and makers. New West Craft plays a small but influential role in providing an accessible environment for consumers and makers to develop and maintain relationships. These connections go beyond the act of purchasing a maker’s wares; they inspire growth and build a community of support.
“Events like New West Craft bring communities and artists together in celebration of a common interest–for the fun of getting out and meeting creative people, to shop and be inspired,” expresses Marie West, New West Craft vendor and creator behind For The Love Of (vintage home décor and aprons). “New West Craft has given me an opportunity, an outlet, to become part of a community–sharing my passion and hopefully inspiring others to do the same.”
Setting up the tables and arranging the chairs can be a tedious act on a Saturday morning, but before there is a chance to grumble about it, New West Craft vendors start filtering in, bringing with them enthusiasm for the day ahead, the people they will meet and the excitement for new things to come. New West Craft is an authentic experience that vendors are proud to take part in.
The relationship between the artist and the consumer is key when thinking about the importance of craft markets in our community. Our societal shift towards appreciating artisanal products is not about what we are buying, but why we are buying. A connection is made with a local maker when we attach value to the handmade, the traditional, the sustainable and entrepreneurial. So much good can come from that connection, and the act of renewing a space with art.
“As an artisan it is a great opportunity to be able to meet and talk to the people who are interested in my work,” says West. “I love being able to help them find something that not only meets their needs, but also really speaks to them. New West Craft offers me the opportunity to get feedback from the community, helping me hone my product and hopefully aid in the longevity of my business.”
River Market provides the perfect backdrop for New West Craft. A major centre of creative activity, River Market has been a huge support in the success of New West Craft.
“River Market reimagines the role of a public market as a community hub where neighbours do things together. While the Market is a place of commerce, it is also a place for cultural and communal activities,” explains Leslie Shieh, River Market Project Planner.
Shieh sees the collaboration with New Craft being based on the same shared goals of connecting local artisans with one another, and connecting the artisans with residents and visitors.
The Saturday fairs give artisans, who often work alone in their home, opportunities to connect with one another. New learnings and partnerships may grow and be renewed. There is a lot of local talent and the fairs provide a venue for artisans to share their craft with residents and visitors to New Westminster,” says Shieh.
It is exciting to watch the growth of regular New West Craft vendors. Whether it’s showcasing new products, displaying a new logo or learning about new opportunities, hearing stories of success is pretty sweet. New West Craft can jump start something great.
“I am most passionate and happy when creating and I am so fortunate to have found an outlet for that. I often find myself regretting when something pulls me away from it. What a great thing. To find something I love doing and that people respond to in such a way that I can create a business doing it, ”expresses West.
Behind the scenes, the vendors participating in New West Craft form meaningful relationships of their own. There is an instant connection and together they create a welcoming and supportive group of people. West attributes a lot of her success to the kindness and encouragement of other New West Craft vendors.
“The other vendors I met were so generous with their knowledge, passion and marketing tips that I got an immediate sense of community and belonging. They want me to succeed,” explains West.
The future of New West Craft is bright. With the support of the Arts Council of New Westminster, New West Craft is constantly looking for more ways to engage with local artisans and grow our events. The Christmas night market was a huge success and a summer night market is being planned as well as regular markets along the boardwalk just outside of the River Market during the summer months.
New West Craft is proudly presented by the Arts Council of New Westminster. New West Craft takes place on the first and third Saturday of the month at the River Market. The next market is happening on Saturday, March 5. Shop a great group of local artisans and enjoy a free sand art workshop.