Published: 25th September 2021
This Instagram initiative is selling art to help rural India to stave off COVID. Here's how you can help
With a target of Rs 40 lakh, all directed to NGOs working to rebuild rural India after the pandemic, this is a fundraiser with a difference
For those of us in the cities, the threat of COVID-19, and the pall of gloom that it had brought along has been steadily lifting with the fall in cases over the last few months. Add to that the decent rates of vaccination in urban areas, and we are almost ready to do away with our masks and sanitisers at this point.
The story in rural India reads a little differently though. The economic burden of the pandemic and the lockdowns were carried by the people on the lower rungs of the socioeconomic ladder. Out of jobs, and with no savings to fall back on, COVID-19 has been blaring tunes of doom for the daily wage worker, the farmer, and others with no job security. The second wave left people dropping like ragdolls in the rural areas with no public healthcare in sight, and vaccination drives haven’t reached these shores with the gusto with which they have been splashed on our screens in the cities.
A group of four organisations came together on Instagram, cognisant of this disparity in India’s state of affairs post the second wave. Compassion Contagion is composed of artists who came together during the pandemic to make their art count for something greater. They started conducting small fundraisers by selling their art on Instagram, and donating the proceeds to those in need of aid during the pandemic. Pravah, an NGO based out of Delhi, saw their efforts, and had them connect with their Changeloom initiative, which works with other NGOs in remote parts of India.
That snowballed into joining hands with Instagram-based art platform, The Alipore Post, which brings together poets and artists to create visual art and poetry. “When we launched it we wanted to build communities that have no livelihood. We thought we had to curate it properly. We were working with artists already but wanted poetry involved, and that’s how we got in touch with Alipore post,” says Avarna Ojha from Pravah.
Atypical Advantage, which gives skilled disabled folk a platform to generate an income through opportunity, were also on board soon, and together, the quartet started the Art Aid Fundraiser, which is raising money to support NGO working to rehabilitate rural regions of India impacted by COVID. Pooja Dhingra, artist and founder of the Compassion Contagion says that they wanted to put in effort to curate the art pieces, and adds that people have been donating generously.
With a target of Rs 40 lakh, they set out promoting their art pieces on Instagram. Priced anywhere between Rs 4,000 and 400, these artworks come in all forms, right from zines, to postcards, to embroidered pieces and oil paintings on canvas. A portion of these proceeds also go to the artists. Vineet Saraiwala, Founder, Atypical Advantage says, “We have an artist with locomotor disability from Kerala, who makes upside down portraits. We wanted to generate remuneration for these artists too.”
While proceeds are slow, the young team behind it is enthusiastic about this amalgamation of art and a grassroots movement to help India truly get back on its feet after the havoc caused by the pandemic. They plan on keeping it going for a couple more months.
Reach out: Rebuilding Post-Covid India Through Arts