SAVE OUR LOCAL ART: FIJI FINE ART COUNCIL’S TUVUKI

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (May 6, 2000 - Fiji’s Daily Post)---Intellectual property rights should be enforced under the Copyright Act to help indigenous people participate actively in commerce through their traditional settings, says Niqa Tuvuki, secretary of the Fiji Arts Council.

"Fijian traditional designs, music, craft and items have been exploited for too long and it is time we put a stop to it," he said. The Fiji Arts Council, under the Department of Culture, is currently working on a paper to present to the Ministry for Women and Culture regarding the protection of traditional Fijian art and craft under the Copyright Act that Government recently implemented.

The Fiji Arts Council falls under the Department of Culture, which is attached to the Ministry of Women and Culture.

Ms. Tuvuki said the Council will act on behalf of traditional artists by legally registering a trade mark for all traditional Fijian art.

"Art is a general term used for all work of art, from tapa design to music. By registering a trade mark for traditional Fijian art we will be able to protect these artifacts and their designs from being imitated and sold illegally," said Ms. Tuvuki.

She was at the Council's booth at the HOTEC 2000 trade show at the Sheraton Royal in Nadi last week.

The three-day exhibition provided an opportunity for hotel owners to view different products that are available in the market.

Ms. Tuvuki said this is the first time the Fiji Arts Council has been invited to participate in HOTEC 2000 and they have been overwhelmed with the reception they have received from hotel operators.

The Council, in association with Kabara Development Company, exhibited traditional Fijian artifacts, which were favorably received by hotel owners who were at the Sheraton Royal.

The show was staged in conjunction with the HOTEC 2000 workshops and seminars attended by organizations in the tourism industry.

"Participating in such trade shows expose the latest in traditional Fijian design to the tourism industry. We have been fortunate to strike some deals and have established contacts, which we will be working on. I am glad to realize that most hotel owners in Fiji are very interested in incorporating Fijian art in their hotel facilities," she said.

The Council has been supplying the new multimillion-dollar Outrigger Reef Resort, due to open next month, with traditional Fijian artifacts. "We are hoping to be contracted by the new hotels that are being built in Fiji. The Fiji Arts Council will engage all of the Fiji Islands to participate in this venture. We will be acting on their behalf while we make sure that the art and craft owners benefit from their work instead of being manipulated by street sellers and handicraft outlet owners," she said.

Ms. Tuvuki said by establishing contracts with hotel operators, traditional artists will have a steady source of income that in the long-run will improve the living standards of rural communities.

"Since the majority of traditional Fijian art today are produced in villages, it can be guaranteed that income from the sale of Fijian artifacts to contracted buyers ensures the transfer of these income to the villages and rural settlements. It creates that balanced distribution of national income, increases Gross Domestic Product that ultimately results in economic growth," she said.

Ms. Tuvuki said the Council has been holding workshops on how to use traditional designs to produce items that can replace Western goods.

"In this case we work on the purpose a Western product is used for. For example, for a teacup rack, traditional wood and coconut sinew binding is used. This also goes for toilet paper holders where ‘tapa’ is used instead of cloth. This way we don't fall out of new demands," she said.

For additional reports from Fiji’s Daily Post, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/Fijilive.

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