How to Establish an Arts and Craft Centre
An arts and crafts centre is a facility from which products with artistic and/or souvenir value are sold, along with a range of products which emanate from local cultural groups. Baskets and sleeping mats are examples of locally produced, culturally influenced products. It could be an open-air facility or inside a building. The arts and crafts centre described here should be distinguished from a street-market or flea-market which sells arts and crafts items but may also sell a range of other goods.
STARTING AN ARTS AND CRAFTS CENTRE
These are some observations that will be helpful for the newcomer to the field. Some of the issues are of a moral/
ethical nature which require careful thought:
• Not many craft work producers make a living solely from traditional craft production and marketing. Community- based craft producers often only have limited time available for production and therefore only add a little cash income to their households, sometimes enough to pay for children’s school fees. It is important to ensure that producers are not exploited;
• Some traditional craft work has unique artistic value (i.e. as a work of art) and in genuine cases the costing of
such items should ensure that the artist is adequately rewarded;
• Some items may have genuine antique, anthropological or archaeological value, in which case they may be
extremely valuable. If items of great cultural value and scarcity are to be sourced and sold, it may be necessary to obtain clearance from AMAFA in KwaZulu-Natal, who are the custodians of the province’s cultural heritage;
• Some items may be adapted so as to give them a more generic usefulness within the household fashion market
(e.g.: using locally produced craft materials to manufacture lamp shades in fashionable colours or designs and
the like). This can open up significant markets and therefore, income-generating potential for your business and
for the producers.
In contemplating an arts and crafts business, thought will need to be given to the following:
• Producers in this design modification process;
• Availability of sufficient quantity of standards for ensuring quality control;
• Products for your requirements and how seasonal availability may affect this, marketing and ongoing adaptation
to market requirements.
1. Your interest in starting an arts and crafts centre is likely to fall under one of the following:
1.1 Selling arts and crafts as an addition to an existing tourism activity;
1.2 Creating employment by creating a new market outlet for people involved in craft production;
1.3 Creating an artwork outlet for indigenous crafts with unique artistic value;
1.4 Entering the selection, production and marketing of handicrafts through a sales outlet, but also selling to the
national home industry and international home industry markets.
2. There are some basic steps that you should follow before embarking on investing in your arts and crafts centre
so as to avoid disappointment. For example:
2.1 Prepare a business plan for the new enterprise (see the How to Brochure on How to Prepare a Business Plan);
2.2 Ensure that you have both a reliable market and source of products. Product range may include items with
souvenir value, through to valuable and costly artwork, depending upon your available cash, your specific
interests and experience;
2.3 Linkage with existing producers and/or markets may be important in starting out before trying to open up your
own supply networks or marketing channels. When dealing with rural craft producers, it is very important not
to raise unrealistic expectations, for example, if quality is not adequate, do not pretend that it is acceptable;
2.4 There are many different types of arts and crafts centres and they can operate at many different scales. Here
is a brief description of some options:
• An entrepreneur has no existing tourism operations or services but desires to start a dedicated arts
and crafts centre with a floor area of between 50m2 and 150m2 with a street or arcade frontage, no off- street parking, but a steady stream of passing pedestrian traffic. This is clearly a costly exercise and requires that a very detailed business plan be proposed;
• An entrepreneur already runs an existing tourism facility (large tour operation, game lodge, cultural village, petrol filling station and the like) and desires to add on an arts and crafts centre. It will have a display area (internal and external) of several hundred square metres, plenty of off-street parking for cars and buses, space for other facilities, such as restaurant(s) and other related tourism services. This is a major and costly exercise and requires that a full business plan be prepared.
3. There is little difference between arts and crafts centres which are tagged onto an existing operation and those which are started from the beginning. Most concerns and questions relate to both categories of centre but the importance attached to each may vary according to the scale of the proposed arts and crafts centre.
4. In developing your business plan, some of the concerns and questions you should answer include the following:
4.1 Do you want to stock items of real artistic value or do you only want to stock items of souvenir or memento
4.2 Is there a genuine market for the products you intend selling? If you are unsure, do some testing of the market
by stocking (if possible) a few items and monitoring closely:
• What sells;
• How quickly these sell?
• Was the price right?
• Who bought the items?
• Do people ask for specific types or categories of items?
• Do people buy items of only souvenir value (mementos) or do they buy items with real art value?
• Is your available space sufficient for the products being sold? If you had more space could
you stock more, and in which case, could you sell more?
• Do you have suppliers for the products you wish to sell? Are they reliable? Are their prices right for your market?
4.3 If you have done a trial then you will have some of the information required for preparing a detailed business
plan before investing any further in it. Plan should be prepared.
5. Specific legal considerations for entrepreneurs starting new arts and crafts centres are:
5.1 Planning and Environmental Authorisations: There is a distinction between centres that may be started in a city or town, compared with those that may be located in a rural area.
5.2 Centres to be started inside a city or town: Planning authorities at the Local Municipal offices establish
whether the piece of land you intend using for the centre is zoned for the type of activity you are proposing.
5.3 If it is appropriately zoned then you may proceed with your development, but establish from the Municipality if
there are any other rules with which you are obliged to comply.
5.4 If it is not appropriately zoned, enquire what processes are necessary to obtain the necessary authorisation for the change of land use and change of zoning.
• The application for this authorisation may be made in terms of the Natal Town Planning Ordinance No. 23 of 1949 or in terms of the Development Facilitation Act No. 67 of 1995. The Local Municipal officials should be able to guide you as to whether an application to the authorities is needed and how you should go about making such an application.
The Local Municipal officials should also be able to guide you in terms of whether an environmental authorisation for change of land use is needed in terms of Section 22 of the Environment and Conservation Act No. 73 of 1989. You will most likely need professional assistance in making these applications.
• Establish what trading licence is required and obtain one from the Local Municipality if needed;
• Centres to be started. Enquire whether the establishment of an arts and crafts centre outside a recognised town constitutes a change in type of land use as identified in Section 22 of the Environment and Conservation Act No. 73 of 1989;
• If it does constitute a change in land use, you will need to comply with the preparation of an application for exemption from the requirements of the Environment and Conservation Act (if the likely impacts of the change of use are insignificant) and expect the application to take about 3-4 months before you receive a response;
• Prepare an environmental scoping report for submission to the relevant department (Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Rural Development in KZN) and expect the application to take about 3-4 months before you receive a response;
• If the change of land use is very significant and a large area of land is involved with significant impacts, a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) may be required; and expect the application to take about 3-4 months before you receive a response, although the preparation of the EIA could also take quite a considerable period of time if there are complex environmental issues to be assessed.
Planning authorisation will also be required. This may be obtained by applying to the KZN Department of Traditional and Local Government Affairs in terms of the Natal Town Planning Ordinance or in terms of the Development Facilitation Act No 67 of 1995. The Local Municipal officials should be able to guide you as to whether an application to the authorities is needed and how you should go about making such application. The Local Municipal officials should also be able to guide you in terms of whether an environmental authorisation for change of land use is needed in terms of Section 22 of the Environment and Conservation Act No. 73 of 1989. You will most likely need professional assistance in making these applications.
The tourism industry is a service-focused sector where people are spending their leisure money and disposable income after paying for their basic living costs. This results in a sector where trends and patterns of behaviour can change rapidly seriously, impacting upon the viability of your business. There are good rewards to be achieved as you embark upon an adventure of a lifetime, but if you do not plan well, it can turn into a nightmare. If necessary, secure the services of professional people that can guide you through the process of preparing your business plan and environmental and planning applications for the authorisations needed. The initial cost would be well worth it in the longer term.
LIST OF USEFUL CONTACTS
• Association of South Africa Travel Agents
(ASATA): (011) 484 0580
• Business Partners Limited:
Durban: (031) 240 7700
Richards Bay: (035) 789 7301
• Department of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and
Rural Development (DAERD):
Pietermaritzburg: (033) 355 9690
• Department of Economic Development and Tourism
(DEDT): (033) 264 2500
• Department of Trade and Industry:
(012) 394 9500
KZN Regional office: (031) 305 3389
• Department of Traditional and Local Government
Affairs: (033) 395 2111
• Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry:
(031) 335 1000
• Ithala Development Finance Corporation:
(031) 907 8911
• Planning and Development Commission:
(033) 395 3066
• South African Tourism (SAT):
(011) 895 3000
• Southern Africa Tourism Services Association
(SATSA) (011) 866 9996/086 127 2872
• Trade Associations
AFRITOUR: (021) 782 6979
• Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (TKZN):
(031) 366 7500