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article imageOp-Ed: Listener supported KPFA will have its annual holiday crafts fair Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Sep 9, 2015 in Entertainment
Berkeley - In a media landscape that is held by only a few conglomerates, it is reassuring to know that there are still some independent local media outlets out there. Among them is KPFA radio at 94.1 FM.
It is now making preparations for its ​45th ​annual holiday arts and crafts fair fundraiser at its new location at Craneway Pavilion near point Richmond.
"I am thrilled we shifted the venue, closer to home, said Producer Jan Etre. After all KPFA's home is Berkeley." The new location was so successful last winter that Etre and KPFA staff decided to have their 1st Annual KPFA Summer Arts Fair, this past June, replacing Berkeley's Live Oak Park Fair ​ which ​Etre had been formerly produced. The KPFA Summer Arts Fair featured original work of over 200 exhibitors in 24 categories. According to Etre "It had an array of gorgeous body adornments and a compelling selection of decorative items for the home."
With this past summer event's success Etre and KPFA are even more confident that the holiday crafts fair will become better than ever. "I have been doing this for 28 years for KPFA," she said. "And to be honest," she said, she believes the change of venue closer to home was the best thing to happen for the annual fundraiser.
Yet, she admitted at first there was a bit of trepidation. "The Concourse Exposition Center in San Francisco on ​8th Street, South of Market was our venue for many years." In fact, it was perhaps 'the venue' for all expos and craft shows in the San Francisco area. Yet as she explained, "the building was a bit worn-out and in need of repair. And we knew it was a only a matter of time before the place got sold or taken over by some other entity."
But as the Recession of 2008 hit, there were lots of delays, she noted "and so many groups not just us were hoping it would just continue as it had always been." But of course the inevitable happened and while the inclination was to plea or stave off some more, Etre said "our only option was the Craneway, closer to home."
Tapestries  textiles and much more will be part of the 45th annual KPFA Arts and Crafts Holiday Fair...
Tapestries, textiles and much more will be part of the 45th annual KPFA Arts and Crafts Holiday Fair this coming Dec. 20 & 21.
Beppe Sabatini, via courtesy of KPFA
Surprisingly, Etre pointed out, "because we had been long-time clients of The Concourse, the management there waived the fees for our last year there. It really was a nice break and then needed incentive to go to the Craneway. We're talking a savings of over $35,0000. Need I say any more?"
As the nervousness of change began to dissipate, even Etre's initial misgivings about the Craneway subsided. "At first I
thought​, "this is too small. She mentioned that legendary KPFA staff member - events coordinator Bob Baldock applauded the move, telling her the Craneway was the best venue. Compared to what we had, I wasn't quite sure. But I immediately saw much more potentials and possibilities."
The major advantage as mentioned before is the fact that the Craneway brings the event closer to the KPFA home-base and its loyal listeners. "Because we moved the venue closer to home, we had more people attend than ever before," she said. KPFA was and still is the oldest 'listener-funded' radio station in the nation. "That means a lot, said Etre, really it does!"
"Think about it for a moment," she told this reporter. "Corporate conglomerates own much of the media today. We may very well be a slim margin of independent media. But we can say what we want, do what we want; tell the truth, explore ideas and talk about issues that few media outlets can. That is very important to a democracy," she said.
Wooly Rascals will be among the more than 200 artists  craftsman and artisans at the 45th annual KPF...
Wooly Rascals will be among the more than 200 artists, craftsman and artisans at the 45th annual KPFA Crafts Fair this coming December.
Beppe Sabatini, via courtesy of KPFA
Founded in 1949, KPFA and its affiliations are operated/managed by Pacifica Radio Network, (as noted by Wikipedia) established by the non-profit Pacifica Foundation. Previously, non-commercial stations were licensed only to serve educational functions as extensions of high schools, colleges, and universities. This departure into listener-oriented programming brought many detractors as KPFA aired controversial programming. But despite many upheavals such as labor disputes, etc. KPFA has endured to this day.
The arts and crafts fundraiser, as Etre sees it is simply an extension of what KPFA as a free-speech media outlet does. "I am for artists. I am for fair trade," said Etre. Even though the upcoming holiday arts and crafts fair is a fundraiser, it is an opportunity. "We are providing a venue for artists and that's really important," she said.
In this age of technology, global markets and outsourcing, as Etre sees it arts and crafts have a very vital place in our lives. "People need to know that technology is not the real, real deal. Yes, it is a marvel, she added, it helps us. But it is only a tool. And, frankly, people have lost ​ sight of that fact."
Art and artisan craft has a vitality and empowering quality to it that humanity seems to have forgotten in the dash to obtain the latest technology. "Artists work with their hands, often with raw materials," she said. And, while some people might argue that hand-crafted items cost more because of the labor intensive aspect to it; or the expense of the raw materials, "it is something well made," she said. "And, it will last. How long does any of the items we now buy in major stores that has been shipped to us from overseas, last?"
Entre mentioned the work of potter and artist Liz Russell. "Her work is exquisite, unique."
This is an example of potter Liz Russell s creative designs with the seascape theme.
This is an example of potter Liz Russell's creative designs with the seascape theme.
Courtesy of Liz Russell and R Honey Pots
Russell who has been making pottery and other hand-crafted items for years resonates similarly Etre's perspective. "I make my pots to be held, loved, used, and incorporated into daily life. With luck, they won’t be tossed out with the rest of the consumer goods (90 percent of which end up in landfills six months after purchase), says Russell. but will become part of a family heritage."Russell will be one of over 180 spaces at The Craneway for this coming December.
"One of my goals, said Etre ​,​ is to help artists earn a living at what they do. It isn't easy being an artist. Many artists face lots of obstacles to follow their heart." Etre hopes that through events like the annual holiday fundraiser for KPFA, artists will have that opportunity. "It's more than just selling hand-crafted items, she noted. It's really about community. So many people come to our fair to support the artists and crafts people. A relationship is there and it builds over time," she said.
Watada Studios creates original one-of-a-kind jewelry by Julia Watada of Walnut Creek  CA.
Watada Studios creates original one-of-a-kind jewelry by Julia Watada of Walnut Creek, CA.
Beppe Sabatini, via courtesy of KPFA
Preparations for the upcoming arts and crafts fair are underway. "I have received well-over 320 applications (and that's for 180 ​ exhibitor spaces). The process is painstaking, said Etre. But we conduct a thorough and fair process. In addition to making sure all items are well-made and ​ original , "we will have a variety of items that will be priced at both the high-end and low-end, so that people can afford to do their holiday shopping here."
The fair is scheduled at the Craneway Pavilion for Dec.19 & 20, during the third week ​end ​of December. Hours are 10 AM to 5 PM. "And there is plenty of ​free ​ parking ​and a free shuttle from the Richmond BART Station," said Etre.
For more information, visit the KPFA web site events page.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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