Sandur Kushala Kala Kendra (SKKK) was established by SMIORE in 1984 to revitalize the traditional crafts of the area and improve the quality of life of craftswomen by encouraging and developing their skills and marketing their products thus ensuring them a livelihood. SMIORE (The Sandur Manganese & Iron Ores Limited), a well-diversified organization actively involved in the development of the local community, has played a significant role in developing and promoting handicrafts to benefit the talented Lambani craftswomen of Sandur, and neighbouring areas in Karnataka, India. In1988 Sandur Kushala Kala Kendra was registered as a Society under Karnataka Societies Registration Act 1960.
The focal point of the Kendra has been their craftsperson, rather than the craft and their objectives are encouraging the revival of indigenous crafts, ensuring a better life for the people who made them, and finding new markets and making the crafts more relevant to modern tastes.
The Kendra strongly believes that local art & craft can only be revitalized by encouraging, training, and compensating the craftspeople fairly. For getting assistance in areas of skill training, design, product development, and marketing, in 1991, Kala Kendra approached DASTKAR, a society of crafts & craftspeople. Since then, Dastkar and many other craft organizations have been associated with the Kendra and have been contributing considerably in its growth and success.
The Artisans of Kendra are mostly Lambanis, belonging to a nomadic tribe more commonly called Banjara. Besides Lambani embroidery other activities at the Kala Kendra are dyeing, Khadi weaving & spinning, sculpting in stone & working with wood, creating products by using natural fiber. Over the years Sandur Kushala Kala Kendra gained recognition for the Lambani craft, both nationally and internationally and has received the prestigious UNESCO Seal of Excellence for ‘Handicrafts in South Asia in 2004’ as recognition of excellence in contemporary crafts besides many other national awards.
Today about 500 craftswomen and artisans in eight villages are working with SKKK and many more are under training. They become self-sufficient and are receiving various other benefits such as subsidized ration, bonus, and provident fund besides their regular income.