Masters research focuses on people behind the Tasmanian Craft Fair

Deakin University student Linda Page is researching the Tasmanian Craft Fair for her masters' project. Picture: Paul Scambler
Deakin University student Linda Page is researching the Tasmanian Craft Fair for her masters' project. Picture: Paul Scambler

Regional and rural communities across the state stand to benefit from a research project focusing on the Tasmanian Craft Fair.

The project, which is part of Deakin University student Linda Page’s International Community Development Masters research, aims to create a better understanding about the role community-led arts events might play in rural community development. 

While she could not divulge her findings as she was still conducting her research, Ms Page said there were already interesting initial observations.

“The resounding theme so far is that by being involved in an event like this, there’s a strong service element,” she said.

“Because the event redistributes all of its profits to local charities and non-government organisations people have a really strong motivation, it appears at this early stage, around service and around working together and drawing on their own strengths and local strengths to make it happen.”

Part of her research involved conducting questionnaires and interviews with a range of people involved.

It had been striking to talk to some people who were at the craft fair, as a volunteer, stallholder or organiser for the first time, and others who were involved since 1981, she said.

“I think what’s special about this event is that it encompasses anyone who wants to be involved,” Ms Page said.

“I’m hoping we can learn about ways in which a community can draw on its own strengths by working together and value each other voices.”

It was not by chance she chose the fair for her case study as Ms Page is from the Meander Valley municipality.

“I’ve been coming to the craft fair since I was a little girl.”

She thought this would be an ideal opportunity to shine a light on an event that was initiated and grown by the Deloraine community.

Ms Page has been looking at the ways people participated and how groups collaborated to create an event.

Her initial observations were that there was a strong sense of community and belonging with an embrace of arts, craft, local produce and “the local sharing with the visitor”.

“I think there are a number of social factors at play here that all speak to a lot of positive things around identity, belonging, teamwork and valuing each other’s voices and strengths.”

These factors were worth considering as just as important as the economic benefits the fair brought to the municipality, Ms Page said.

Earlier fair organisers estimated the fair brought in $700,000 for accommodation and food businesses in the area.

She hoped the Tasmanian Craft Fair case study would help teach people about the ways we can work together for community development.

“This event doesn’t follow the normative event management or community development structures and so I’m hoping there are some unique findings around what is special about this community and this event that we might translate into other events and other initiatives.”

Particularly she hoped to Tasmanian communities would benefit from her research.

Ms Page will submit her research in June next year, which will be available on the Deakin University’s website.