Travelling around the world has many virtues for today´s society. One of them is for visitors to interact with, and understand the merits of a particular country´s host culture. In doing so, I recently went to attend a (free) creative workshop in the city of Santiago held at the Centro Cultural, organised by the Fundación Artesanías de Chile.
The local instructor, Johanna Morales, was kind enough to inform me (in some very fast, Chilean Spanish!) that free classes were held here for the public every weekend or on public holidays. During other times, the workshops were also conducted with students or schoolchildren. Each month of the year sees the focus on a different part of the traditional handicraft of the Chilenean people. At the end of April 2011, the focus was on the traditional art of weaving with (dyed) horse hair and producing little dolls, flowers, baskets or other tokens of good fortune. The following link provides further information to courses and workshops (in Spanish): www.artesaniasdechile.cl
Classes typically run for about an hour and a half, after which visitors are able to take their own little piece of crafted souvenir with them. Not only do you appreciate the skills being taught to you, it is an understanding on the entire cultural and historical context of the people teaching there. The local artist spoke to us entirely in Spanish, but a local guide or instructor was present to help out with an English translation. We felt very safe, and happy to work in this public spot in the centre of Santiago.
Finally, after asking Ms Morales about a form of cooperation with the Santiago Tourism Board, she was pointing out that this link was still missing and that visitors who came were often rather surprised at finding the workshops being offered to them. She concluded by saying that it should be better promoted for the benefit of the artists as well as the people who come to enjoy Chile.