History

History

The World Crafts Council (WCC) was established in 1964 as a non-profit membership organisation. It was set up to promote an international interest in crafts and encourage contact between the craftspeople of different countries.
Although the WCC was founded by an American, Mrs Aileen Vanderbilt Webb, and the secretariat was based in New York City until 1984, there was a strong European involvement in both management and membership affairs from the beginning. The committee, which guided the organisation in the early years, included several European members. By 1974, when WCC celebrated its first ten years at the 6th General Assembly in Toronto, discussions were in progress about a new structure which would reflect regional commitment. This was implemented following the 7th Assembly in Oaxtepec, Mexico, in 1976. Five independent regions were established - Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and Latin America . These were to come together, through their presidents, with the elected WCC President, to form the Executive Board.
The first European Regional Assembly took place during the General Assembly in Toronto in 1974, and the second in Oaxtepec. A crafts conference was held in Kracow, Poland, in 1977, at which national delegates developed ideas for the European structure. This enabled the first European Board to be elected in Kyoto in 1978 after the bylaws of the WCC had been ratified at the General Assembly. The first board consisted of eight elected members:
- James Noel White, UK (Regional President)
- Peter Rath, Austria (Regional Vice-President)
- Michele Wegner, Italy (Secretary)
- Lou Schmidt, Switzerland
- Asa Hellman, Finland
- John Vedel-Rieper, Denmark
- J J Edmond Salden, Netherlands
- Victor Margrie, UK
A further European delegate present in Kyoto was Elena Averoff, of the WCC Hellenic Section, who later became President of WCC-Europe from 2000 until 2004.
The Board wished to establish a permanent organisation for WCC-Europe to provide the basis for strong and regular collaboration within the region. After much discussion and consultation it was agreed at the Assembly in Florence in 1979 to set up an independent secretariat funded by European members. Terms for regional membership were set out and an annual quota payment introduced. A secretariat was set up at South Woodford Road, London, UK, run by the European Executive Coordinator Malcolm McIntyre Reid of the British Crafts Council. Among other activities, the secretariat arranged the tour of the exhibition ‘The Bowl’, and assisted with arrangements for annual meetings and associated conferences and workshops.
The seventh European Assembly took place in Vienna in 1980 at the 9th WCC General Assembly – which proved to be the beginning of a difficult period for the whole organisation. The General Assembly in Vienna attracted 1500 delegates and the international conference and international workshop programme, studio visits and lectures were considered a great success. The costs, however, were considerable, and were unfortunately financially damaging to the Austrian National Entity, the Austrian Crafts Council.
Without the generous support of the WCC’s founder, Mrs Webb, who died in 1979, it was no longer possible to maintain the level of international activity, or to provide financial aid to the regions for their programmes. Despite these circumstances, the European activities continued thanks to regional funding and the strong involvement of its entities. The European Assembly has continued as an annual event since 1977. It remains a valuable means of reinforcing international cooperation between crafts organisations in Europe.
This account is based on notes by Anne Leclercq and John Vedel-Rieper.
WCC-Europe presidents, vice presidents and board members 2009-2012
2011-2012
Regional European President/WCC (Int) Executive Board: Bernd Roeter, Germany
Regional Vice President/WCC (Int) Executive Board: Rosy Greenlees, UK
Nina Linde, Denmark
Bie Luyssaert, Belgium- Flanders
Trude Ugelstad, Norway
2010-2011
Regional European President/WCC (Int) Executive Board: Bernd Roeter, Germany
Regional Vice President/WCC (Int) Executive Board: Clare Twomey, UK
Pablo Blanco, Spain
Nina Linde, Denmark
Bie Luyssaert, Belgium-Flanders
2009-2010
Regional European President/WCC (Int) Executive Board: Bernd Roeter, Germany
Regional Vice President/WCC (Int) Executive Board: Clare Twomey, UK
Pablo Blanco, Spain
Nina Linde, Denmark
Bie Luyssaert, Belgium-Flanders