What is it and why is it important?
Sherry Rodehaver, Tracy Belair Gaito, Paula Bauer, Ann Martin, and Donna Del Giudice
Prompted by a question from a member on the new NAQG Member Yahoo group this spring, that produced a flurry of posts and excited interest, the North American Quilling Guild recently established an Accreditation Steering Committee to investigate the feasibility of an accreditation program. In the months ahead this committee, chaired by Sherry Rodehaver, will be investigating the question thoroughly, and will be soliciting feedback from the membership. This paper has been compiled to answer some basic questions and clear up any misconceptions about accreditation in general.
Accreditation: A Definition
1) to give official authorization to or approval of
a) to provide with credentials
b) to recognize or vouch for as conforming with a standard
2) to consider or recognize as outstanding.
3) to examine a quiller's work against an objective list of standards and determine if it meets or surpasses those requirements.
Accreditation is a way for NAQG artists to aim for a specific goal (meeting or surpassing an objective list of quilling standards) and to challenge themselves to reach it.
General Uses of Accreditation
Accreditation has been used for centuries in a myriad of professions. While it may be known under different names (certified, licensed, accredited, etc), the purpose is the same. Accreditation creates a standard by which individuals are measured and declared to either meet the standard or are encouraged to pursue further improvement in areas identified by the judging committee.
Today in the US and in other parts of the world, various accrediting schemes touch every aspect of our lives. These associations are responsible for ensuring that the professionals we rely on to provide various services are properly credentialed & qualified and that their credentials are verified and updated regularly. Accreditation is carried out by private, nonprofit organizations designed for this purpose. They provide external quality review and support and encourage continuing self-assessment and quality assurance. Many are overseen by a Federal committee to insure compliance to set standards, especially where Federal grant money may be involved. Hundreds exist, but a few of these agencies are: National Childcare Accreditation, The American Association for Laboratory Accreditation, English Language Program Accreditation, Engineering Accreditation Commission, TEAC-Teacher Education Accreditation Council, Midwifery Education Accreditation, and National Office for the Arts Accreditation Commission.
A Brief Look at Accreditation in History
There is some ambiguity over the early history of guilds similar to the hazy origins of quilling. It does appear that the most advanced and prolific period of guilds was in England during the medieval period (1000-1450). The word "Guild" is from the Anglo-Saxon word Gildan, or "to pay." Some historians believe this has origins with the concept of sacrifice and tribute to the gods. Others believe it has more to do with providing help to those in need as with the early frith guilds (peace guilds).
As an apprentice (from the word apprendre, or "to learn") you were taken in by a master for training and would remain in training for 3-10 years. When you were determined qualified, you left your master and became known as a 'journeyman' (from journee, or "day" someone hired by the day). As a journeyman, you would travel around and continue to work for other masters, learning and developing your skills still further under continued encouragement and support. After a period of 2-3 years, you would return to your district and again work under a master. You received master status only after completing your "masterpiece" and were judged to have met all the standards of the master level.
Two commonly studied early guilds are "Merchant" and "Craft" guilds. The Merchant guilds had a lot of power in towns, including controlling all trade and town funds. Over time, the Craft guilds took on more power than the Merchant guilds. The Craft guilds were associations of skilled craftspeople and artisans all practicing the same trade (such as the Weavers guild and the Mining guild).
The Craft guilds regulated the quality of the work of its members (it had to meet certain standards), as well as the work environment and working hours. There were huge benefits to membership---including recognition of skills, providing housing if the member became sick or too old to continue working, and some guilds had special guild schools for the children of members.
Within the Craft guilds, there were three status levels: apprentice, journeyman, and master. Modern guilds often have a fourth status level: associate---someone who supports the guild's mission and/or does not wish to have their skills assessed.
What Accreditation is Not
Though often confused, competition and accreditation are two very different things. Competition is an act between individuals carried on for amusement, exercise, or in pursuit of a single or limited prize---such as winning a ribbon at a craft show or winning the prize in a raffle. In a competition, you are striving for the same prize as another person, and if you get it, they do not.
With accreditation, there are no limits on the number of people given recognition. All who meet/exceed certain standards will receive accreditation. As a practicing artist, continually striving to improve your proficiency, you are in competition with NO ONE but yourself. Your work is not compared with other entries, but instead judged against a predetermined set of standards.
Accreditation, as well as a competition, are completely optional endeavors and require a very personal decision that must be made by each practicing artist.
Benefits and Advantages of Accreditation
Below is a short list of some of the reasons quillers may wish to pursue accreditation:
A strong accreditation program assists in promoting quilling as a legitimate art form and not just a 'craft.'
Accreditation encourages and promotes greater artistry and personal skill development among quilling artists.
Accreditation establishes standards of competency in the numerous skills and techniques utilized in the art of quilling.
Accreditation preserves the artistic integrity of the art of quilling by ensuring that skillful techniques are retained by new generations of quilling artists.
Accreditation establishes credentials for potential students, galleries or craft stores interested in learning from or hiring a competent and accomplished quilling artist/instructor.
Accreditation or "credentials" provide the necessary qualification that is often required and scrutinized by various show promoters, arts foundations, and art show jury committees.
Finally, accreditation establishes an impartial authoritative assessment to reassure consumers of a quiller's competency and skillfulness.
An accreditation program offered through NAQG* will yield many positive benefits to members and to the art of quilling. We cannot emphasis enough that accreditation is a personal choice that individual quillers may make if they choose to pursue the program (should it be implemented in the future). No quiller will be required to participate, and it will NEVER be used as a criterion for membership in the NAQG. Those who wish to pursue accreditation will find support, encouragement, and great personal and artistic satisfaction when they have achieved their goals. Those who are not interested in pursuing accreditation will still have access to all the information, benefits and support of the NAQG.
We are very enthusiastic about the possibilities of an accreditation program, and welcome your feedback and comments. If you have any questions or concerns, we would like to hear from you!
*NOTE: Currently, the only organization offering accreditation in the art of quilling is the UK Quilling Guild. The NAQG is NOT an "arm" of nor in competition with The Quilling Guild of England. NAQG is a totally independent and separate entity. Both guilds, however, are dedicated to promoting and preserving this unique and beautiful art form.