The Blackford Trust - Investing in Talent in Scotland and China

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Please note The Blackford Trust is now closed - this page is retained for purely historic interest

Global Heritage Fund - Pingyao city, China

Our support

We provided support towards the work of the Global Heritage Fund in Pingyao city, Shanxi province, China. During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Pingyao was the first banking capital of China. It is now renowned for its well-preserved ancient city wall and buildings, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our specific support was towards a programme of training and market development for traditional woodblock handicrafts in Pingyao - this began in 2010 and was further developed in 2011.

We classified this as a social enterprise award. For more on our interest in "social enterprise", see this page.

Background to our partner (see also here)

The Pingyao County Government and Global Heritage Fund are undertaking a collaborative effort to preserve the cultural heritage of the ancient city, using comprehensive and systematic approaches as part of an integrated planning, conservation and development programme. The project aims to preserve the vernacular architecture, revitalise and stimulate the traditional arts and establish special historic areas.

Photos courtesy of Global Heritage Fund.

The Heritage Development Programme, to which the Trust has contributed, supported training for the remaining skilled craftspeople and artisans to pass on and preserve the traditional craft of woodblock printing, part of the city's unique living heritage. Older experienced craftspeople have trained the next generation in these ancient skills. The team at Pingyao works on the development of new markets for their products, at home and abroad.

In addition, as part of the wider programme, a selection of restored courtyards are serving as venues where creation of traditional arts and specialty products and participation and observation by visitors is possible. Community classes are also being conducted at the restored courtyards.

This integrated, sustainable program addresses the economic imbalance of the current tourism landscape and preserves the last remaining endangered historic courtyards and living arts and cultural heritage, sustaining the authenticity and character of Pingyao Ancient City.

Outcomes and lessons

The Pingyao project team made significant progress during 2010. In the first part of the year, they developed seven new woodblock print designs. These include traditional images of the Kitchen Deity, Wealth Deity, Grain Deity and Door Guardians (the photographs below show the prints being produced), which are now being sold in the city. They also began to develop new marketing channels in Pingyao and beyond for the prints and associated products.

After the very positive outcomes from our support for the work of GHF in Pingyao in 2010, we were pleased to be able to make an additional award for 2011.

Photos courtesy of Global Heritage Fund.

Product development continued during 2011, with new items using the woodblock print designs such as notebooks, postcards, T-shirts, and cloth bags now being sold in Pingyao and in specialist shops in Beijing. This is beginning to generate significant income for the craftspeople.

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This page was last updated on 18 July 2016.




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