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Support for Cape Breton craft sector given

The Customs House Artisan Incubator is located in Port Hawkesbury. CONTRIBUTED
The Customs House Artisan Incubator is located in Port Hawkesbury. CONTRIBUTED

Cape Breton’s craft sector is getting a boost so it can improve access to artisans and their products as well as encourage crafters from outside Nova Scotia to move here.

Invest Nova Scotia is providing more than $311,000 over three years to the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design to support the operation of an established artisan space that provides participants with fully equipped studios, subsidized rent, a retail outlet store, mentorship from artists in residence and offer community-based programs. This funding will support the Customs House Artisan Incubator in Port Hawkesbury.

“The Customs House Artisan Incubator with its fully-equipped studio space is designed to attract new residents from outside the province to our rural communities to ensure a next generation of makers on the Island,” said Lori Burke, executive director, Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design in Sydney. “The success of the program is encouraging and we believe that with the support of Invest Nova Scotia, the Cape Breton craft sector will continue to flourish.”

The chair of Invest Nova Scotia Graham Eisenhaur says the crafts sector plays an instrumental role in the island’s economy while preserving culture.

“This investment will help to ensure the creative community thrives and expands while attracting more newcomers to Cape Breton and supporting the buy-local movement through easier access to craft products to both residents and visitors,” said Eisenhaur.

It’s welcome news for Josie Clarke of Josephine Clarke Textiles. She credits Customs House for allowing her to elevate her professional reputation and move on with her career.

“I can now say I am a full-time artist,” she said. “If I had stayed in a big city where I was living before, I would not have been able to take my art career full time for years or even decades."

For Kyle McPhee of Phee’s Original Goods, spending two years at Customs House has allowed him to grow his artisan business faster than expected.

“That's in huge part due to the creative community I was introduced to through the Customs House. I'd highly recommend this incubator program to anyone looking to elevate their craft and join an incredible community of artisans here on Cape Breton Island."

Invest Nova Scotia supports organizations that are collaborating with their community or sector to create a bigger impact and increased competitiveness and skills that strengthen the economy. Since 2016, it has invested almost $17 million into 16 projects in the agriculture, education, social enterprise and arts and culture sectors.

Elizabeth Patterson is a health and culture reporter at the Cape Breton Post. 


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