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Brazil’s Fenearte: For 10 Days 4000 Artisans Show Their Art

Brazil's Fenearte Approximately 4,000 Brazilian artisans will start exhibiting work from all states of Brazil and from 26 other countries in the city of Olinda, capital of the state of Pernambuco, starting July 3. They will participate in the 10th edition of the Fenearte (Feira Nacional de Negócios do Artesanato – National Handicraft Business Fair).

The event, which will continue until July 12, is open to the public and should receive around 250,000 visitors, according to estimates by the fair's organizers. The government of Pernambuco promotes the event and is expecting a turnover of 22 million reais (US$ 11.2 million) in business deals during the ten days of the fair.

In 2009, besides maintaining countries that exhibited in the previous edition – such as Chile, Bolivia, Egypt, India and Portugal -, the fair will bring exhibitors from Argentina, Bangladesh, Guatemala, Mexico, Japan, Palestine, Venezuela and Vietnam.

Despite the presence of international work, 70% of the fair's premises will be occupied by handicraft from Pernambuco, says the general coordinator of the event, Roberto Lessa. "Our state is particularly wealthy," he says, "few compare to Pernambuco in terms of spontaneous generation of handicraft work."

Although the fair stands out for the diversity of handicraft techniques on display, it also features typical examples from each of the Pernambuco regions, according to Lessa. Among the techniques used by artists from the state are is clay modeling, leatherwork, and woodwork.

One of the most typical – clay sculptures of folkloric characters of Northeast Brazil – was made famous by Mestre Vitalino, an artisan who would turn 100 years old in July 10th, and who will be paid homage at the event.

The Bodega da Caatinga, a network of cooperatives formed by artisans and small-scale producers from the Northeast, is one of the exhibitors that will bring handicraft typical of the Northeast to the fair. Supported by a project of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the network comprises production from the states of Pernambuco, Alagoas, Bahia, Rio Grande do Norte and Ceará. The Bodega provides advisory to its affiliates on means for producing in a sustainable way, and for adding value to products.

The most important aspect of the fair is the possibility of making contacts and promoting business, says Maurí­cio Aroucha, the biologist in charge of providing guidance to the Bodega artisans. "If all that we do is encourage production in some remote location in the interior, who is going to go see it?"

This is his second time at Fenearte; the group has already taken part in fairs of the type in other states of Brazil. Aroucha explains that this enables the signing of agreements that bring the handicraft work to restaurant chains, hotels, snack bars and even international natural product companies.

Lessa, the event's coordinator, also highlights the fact that knowledge is exchange and there is direct contact between artists and the public. He explains that at several moments there will be artisans working amidst the passers-by.

Aroucha says that Fenearte is different from other events because its long duration, of ten days, increases attendance by families and even school trips. To him, this climate, which is not business-only, favors the promotion of the handicraft work.

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