| Nov 1, 2010 |
Aid to Artisans gala honors Maya Romanoff, and Donna Karan
Boh staff
By Staff

Tomorrow night, Aid to Artisans will honor Donna Karan, Joyce and Maya Romanoff, and the artisans of Haiti at an Awards Gala and Silent Auction in New York City. Newell Turner, the Editor-In-Chief of House Beautiful, serves as Gala Co-Chair, along with ATA Trustees Alexandra Ballard and Andrew Corrie.

The annual ATA Awards recognize individuals and groups who have furthered the cause of international artisan development. ATA works in developing countries around the world to help artisans create profitable businesses from their craft traditions, connecting artisans to industry experts and international markets.

Fashion designer Donna Karan will receive the Humanitarian of the Year Award for her work with the Urban Zen Foundation, which in addition to supporting issues of well-being and empowering children, is dedicated to preserving cultures across the globe. 

“The unique and beautiful traditions found all over the world have always inspired my design aesthetic, and I am so proud to be honored by Aid to Artisans, an organization that has been an advocate and ardent supporter of the international artisan community for nearly 35 years. Preserving cultures is one of the guiding tenets in our work at Urban Zen Foundation, and as a relatively young organization just beginning to make our mark on the world, we appreciate being recognized by ATA, a well-established force in the global artisan movement,” said Karan.  

The Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Joyce and Maya Romanoff, now celebrating their company’s 40th Anniversary. The Romanoffs share their company’s success with many social causes, including donating a portion of sales proceeds from their True Metals, Meditations, and Hemp collections—handcrafted with the artisan community of Nepal—back to Aid to Artisans. 

“Maya was inspired by ancient craft techniques and the beauty of handmade objects from the company’s very early beginnings, and those influences are still reflected in our collections today. We are deeply honored to have our life’s work recognized by Aid to Artisans,” said President Joyce Romanoff of her husband.

In a tribute to the artisans of Haiti, the Artisan Advocate Award on Joel and Magalie Dresse, owners of Caribbean Craft in Haiti, who have created jobs for hundreds of local artisans in their Port-au-Prince-based design workshop, providing income for over 500 families annually. January’s devastating earthquake destroyed the original Caribbean Craft workshop, but Joel and Magalie began rebuilding immediately and offered shelter to hundreds of artisans who set up temporary housing in their front yard. ATA has worked in the Haitian community for decades and recently created the Haitian Artisan Recovery Fund, one of the many programs the Gala fundraiser will benefit.

“Now that the emphasis is on job creation here in Haiti, it is imperative that we fight to bring these cultural goods to the global market.  This can only be possible with the presence of an entity like Aid to Artisans who can assist us in developing and promoting Haitian craft,” said Joel Dresse during a recent visit the couple received from former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. 

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