A Space for Artists and Entrepreneurs

Old traditional Altaian saddletree

Felting, bone carving, saddlery, and pottery…these are just a few of the creations represented by artists who are enjoying a brand new Center of Folk Arts and Crafts in the village of Kupchegen, Altai.

A few years back, a group of Altaian artisans from across the Republic conceived of the idea creating a common space for people to come together and practice their craft. One of the biggest challenges for artists in remote villages is being isolated from other artists, and the Center for Folk Arts and Crafts provides that connectivity necessary for business and creative success.

With initial support from local leaders and a grant from the Republic’s government, the two-story Center includes work space, lodging, dining room, and a conference room. The idea is that artists can live in-residence for a period of time to share and learn from masters in their field with the goal of creating their own business. The income from artists selling their creations at the Center will help sustain the Center long term.

The Altai Project Director, Jennifer Castner, had the unique opportunity to visit the Kupchegen village artist community last fall, meet with a saddle maker, and learn more about the success of this artisan community.