Published: 15th September 2020
Why students from NID grouped together to support grassroots relief initiatives through art
#ArtForCharity connected the general public with small grassroots initiatives that were working in local areas by connecting them with artists and art enthusiasts
In the early days of the Coronavirus crisis and the subsequent lockdown, while social media was flooded with donation requests from NGOs and charity organisations, a bunch of students from the National Institute of Design stumbled upon a number of small group-led relief initiatives that needed funds. On March 30, they set up #ArtForCharity, an initiative that raises money for such grassroots initiatives by connecting groups with artists and art enthusiasts.
What they set up was a collaborative fundraiser campaign that connected artists who wanted to donate art and buyers who wanted to purchase them with grassroots relief initiatives. They used their artistic skills and expertise to help channel money to the initiatives by selling artwork and hosting virtual fundraising workshops. “We believed it would be more impactful if we raised money for such grassroots relief initiatives,” says Srinidhi Chandrasekhar, one of the students who set it up. “The funds we raised were donated to individuals that are able to support vulnerable people who are often overlooked by bigger relief campaigns. We wanted to support initiatives that were helping people at every level. The idea was to offer financial assistance to those who were involved in personally distributing resources to communities that needed them.”
When they were first set up, the students sent out a plea for volunteers and artwork donation. They were pleasantly surprised to find an overwhelming response from the creative community. More than 30 artists from all over the country reached out to #ArtForCharity to offer help. By the end of the initial month-long campaign, the team raised close to `30,000. The programme has reached out to communities across Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Delhi. Srinidhi says, “Social media was definitely the starting point. We mostly reached out to small initiatives that were making food kits and distributing meals. The campaigns were self-initiated, self-funded and focused on providing immediate relief to people within their areas of residence. Most of the drives were typically run by volunteers that had limited social media presence and needed assistance to actively raise funds through social networking platforms and so, we joined hands with them.”
So far, the initiative has helped raise funds for about 12 such initiatives from across the country. Artists were free to donate as many artworks as they could or host fundraiser workshops on the #ArtForCharity platform. The weekly art workshops are hosted by volunteers from the creative community. So far, the team has helped organise seven fundraiser sessions. The workshops range from learning how to draw caricatures with Instagram artist @spreefirit to origami, watercolours and papercutting. While a minimum of `250–300 was charged per head for the workshops, the artwork cost `150-200. Contributions poured in from within the creative community and outside to support the small initiatives that get lost in the background.