Artpreneurs; What are they?
Artpreneurs for Change is a socially empowering initiative that is designed to bridge the gap between individuals from the US and Pakistan; especially after 9/11 there was a lot of inherent hostility in the way citizens from both countries had perceptions for each other and it was this hostility that is discouraged through the Artpreneurs for Change program. The program is headed by Pakistan based NGO “Naya Jeevan”, the principle aim of this organization is to work towards developing a bilateral initiative (US-Pakistan) that will help raise funds for the benefit and education of the disabled.
The organization defines the Artpreneur as a disabled or special person that has been given the raw training and initial tools for drawing, painting, and other artistic techniques. Thus, these people will be able to work, and create livelihood for themselves by indulging in artistic expression, some participants have even gone out to say that these disabled junior artists will be celebrities in their own right; since the organization will also raise funds for, and manage local art exhibitions showcasing these underprivileged and (unfortunately) hidden gems of our society. The initiative’s plan is to routinely hold offline auctions too (both locally as well as internationally), and the sales of these paintings will further contribute towards overcoming the financial difficulties faced by these disabled kids in hopes of guaranteeing health insurance, and, social and economic security.
The Initiative; Is it sustainable?
The initiative in itself is quite promising, since it is directed towards the psychological betterment of disabled children, and co-creation of art. It is common knowledge that the human child starts to consciously perceive the world at around 5 years of age, and any trauma during this period will have a permanent and lasting effect on his life. The artpreneurship initiative works towards inculcating empathy as a core trait in such children that have been traumatized due to their disabilities.
The initiative is set to be launched simultaneously in Washington DC and Karachi, the proposed plan is to set up “clusters” of children in both countries, there will be no more than 5 children in a single cluster. These clusters will be given a professional coaching by art therapists and psychologists; these sessions will be especially designed towards helping the disabled children. There will also be interactive sessions too, in which children from Pakistan will be able to digitally and virtually interact with their American counterparts, in an attempt towards bridge building. This will not only help remove the personal and social constraints of these children, but will also help them in adopting art as an effective medium for expression, as well as a means of cherishing memories.
The initiative is sustainable too, since the funds allotted for this program will also be used for the social and health insurance, additionally; the proceeds from proposed art exhibitions will further improve the chances of this program towards sustainability. This initiative is also (currently) the only one of its kind in all of Pakistan, something that stipulates an aim to transcend socioeconomic and even cultural boundaries in the hope towards bringing people from diverse cultures and backgrounds onto a single footing, and in essence bring them together on something that is universal.
An added benefit of this program would be to disconcert the popular belief in American people that Pakistan is a violent country that promotes terrorism (as is more or less portrayed in the international media), this initiative hopes to instill a message of peace and tranquility in the minds of the children that participate, as well as their parents. This will make a huge difference in ironing out any distorted perceptions that are fueled by the media’s ratings oriented agendas every day.
The initiative has been jump started recently, and currently draws much of its funding from the AEIF (United States Department of State’s Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund), it achieved this by winning first place in the highly competitive event which comprised hundreds of applicants.
The Artpreneurs for Change is a promising start, and if it succeeds in capitalizing on all of its promises and actually delivers on them, it will be a great step in philanthropy.