Published on October 08, 2013
Janice O’Neill, marketing Agent for the Labrador Craft Marketing Agency (LCMA), and Stan Oliver, Chair of the LCMA, packs up the remaining inventory today, as the LCMA closes its doors. Budget cuts recently forced the LCMA to cease operations.
Published on October 08, 2013
LCMA shuts its doors; future uncertain for Labrador craft producers
It was a sad day last Monday, as the Labrador Craft Marketing Agency in Happy Valley-Goose Bay shut its doors.
The closing of the LCMA means Labrador craft producers will no longer have a place to go in which to market their wares wholesale, or get their names and crafts to national and international shows.
Stan Oliver, chair of the LCMA, said this is a major blow to many talented artists, which reached upwards of 40-50 regular producers.
"Our producers made everything from Innu tea dolls to carvings to slippers and everything in between," said Oliver.
"We marketed Aboriginal art and culture; many people and galleries outside want to see and buy that type of work."
Oliver explained budget cuts from the federal government, which, in turn, trickled down to the province. The trickle-down effect was ultimately felt by the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador - the umbrella group that funded and oversaw the LCMA - who cut the organization out of its budget this year, due to its own budget shortfall.
Oliver said the office was initially slated to close in June with a 10-day notice, but luckily granted an extension to finalize everything, including the organization and storage for their office supplies and other items at their office on Hamilton River Road, thanks to their landlord, Dean Clarke and Churchill Construction.
Both Oliver and Janice O'Neill, the marketing agent for LCMA, are extremely disheartened by the closure, saying the LCMA was a great alternative for craft producers, as they were able to get cash on the spot for their items, as well as potentially get more business from the LCMA's experience and involvement with major trade shows around the country.
"Every time we attended a show, we would take a number of 'demo' products with us," explained O'Neill.
"We would then take orders from people or galleries, who wanted 'x' number of items and contact the producers when we got back to Labrador, to fill those orders. For example, we might have an order for 50 pairs of slippers, 100 deerskin bootie keychains or 10 grass baskets."
O'Neill and Oliver said their regular producers valued this system because it saved them the trouble of contacting local craft shops and selling their items one or a couple items at a time.
"What will happen to (the producers)?" says Oliver. "We bought all our stuff from Labrador artists, including a few of the inmates at the Labrador Correctional Centre, who produced great work.
"Scott Goudie, for another example, is a fantastic artist, who has produced numerous, intricate carvings for sale to the LCMA."
Oliver noted the LCMA was provided with $12,000 to conduct a "needs assessment" of sorts on the future of a craft agency for Labrador.
"We will review, create a survey and conduct community consultations to see what a future craft agency could look like, said Oliver, noting the market has changed over the last several years in Labrador, with the establishment of more craft stores.
Barb Wood is a board member on the LCMA, but also a craft producer.
She said the closure of the LCMA is 'bittersweet', as it has done a lot of good for Labrador craftspeople, however, she says the volunteer board members have not given up the fight just yet.
"We hope to see another entity for craft producers - not just concentrating on marketing, but providing a wide range of services," said Wood.
"Whether or not we will still be a part of the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador, we won't be sure until we have completed our study, which hopefully will be by the New Year."
Wood said it is extremely important that there is a service in place for the craftspeople of Labrador.
"We've proved that we can pull together; we're not going to lay down and play dead," she said."
On a brighter note, Wood said the now-defunct LCMA will be going out with one last 'hurrah' - they will, indeed, be holding their ever-popular Labrador Traditions Christmas Craft Fair at the College of the North Atlantic on October 26.
Anyone looking to take part in the Fair may contact Wood, Oliver, Jim Spearing or Jim Garland.