2005-12-01 / Letters to the Editor

Teen exclusion at island craft show

In reference to the annual Conanicut Island Art Association Christmas Craft Show/Sale, patrons should note that there will be no vendors less than 21 years of age. It is interesting that in years past many young artisans from Jamestown had tables at the show and were afforded a great opportunity to experience the commercial side of their crafts. When our son tried to get a table last year, he was told that he couldn’t as he wasn’t a member. During the summer, he joined the association to be able to participate in the organization’s activities. When he tried to get a table for this year’s show, he was told that he had to be 21 years old to participate. When I contacted the board of the CIAA for clarification, they reiterated that participants in the craft fair had to be 21 years old. As a consolation, they offered me the opportunity to work with them in setting up a “children’s” craft fair. After discussing the issue with other parents of talented junior artisans who have also been excluded, I learned that last year the bar was set at 18 years old.

Some of the junior artisans in Jamestown have demonstrated talent that is worthy of adult peer review and acceptance in the artists’ community. The only way I can understand this new policy is to put it in the light of age discrimination or a policy of exclusivity. Either way, it should be a disappointment for Jamestowners. In years past, young artisans were welcomed into the CIAA and encouraged to be a part of all the events. As time and history have born out, any organization practicing policies of exclusivity will not flourish. The young talented artisans in Jamestown will certainly find a venue that appreciates their talent. When they reach the age of 21, they will likely stay with the organization that has already demonstrated loyalty to them. They will have no reason to join an organization that had previously excluded them.

All of the arguments about potential kids running around or whatever could be addressed by requiring an adult present at the table if the artist is under 21. I have seen some of these young artisans’ work and you should be disappointed that you will not have a chance to see it at the craft show. There is a teen art show on Dec. 10 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the library, sponsored by the Teen Center, but that doesn’t explain why teens are excluded from the CIAA event.

Hopefully, members of the CIAA will speak with their elected Board and somehow get the organization to change the policies back to what they were when the organization was founded.

Bruce Wigton

Jamestown Continued from previous page

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