Who are we?
The Living Art Campaign is an ENZA initiative, ENZA is a South African registered NGO. Why “The Living Art Campaign”?As per the slogan, we aim to help African artists make a living through their artistic talent. There is an old Zulu proverb which says, “Ingwe Idla Ngamabala”, which translates “A leopard eats by means of its spots”. Meaning, a person makes a living off his or her talents.
Where are we?
The Living Art Campaign is currently operating its HQ from the small town of Hillcrest on the outskirts of Durban. Hillcrest itself is beautiful suburban town and is predominantly middle class, but is surrounded by many underprivileged rural communities and townships. It serves as the perfect starting point as it is conveniently connected to these rural areas via main highways, also, many of the underprivileged workers commute to Hillcrest daily to work or to find employment. Our short-term goal as a campaign is to establish ourselves in Hillcrest and then to spread into the greater Durban area.
South Africa is a country rich in cultural diversity, if you were to travel to South Africa you would also find that South Africa is a country with a great deal of artistic talent. For many South Africans it is this talent which helps them make just enough money to survive day by day. In South Africa it is not an un-common practice to find artists with beautiful art pieces sprawled along a pavement or a patch of grass next to a road, selling their goods to traffic passing by. Many of these artists will sell their art work for whatever they can get just to make ‘ends meat’. These artists are often subject to swindling and theft. This reflects an utter lack of appreciation and value for their work and for them as an artist. Another problem they face is weather, on a rainy day they are unable to operate.
These artists don’t have access to the internet, they are not educated on marketing themselves or the importance of networking and forming relationships with other people in the art world and potential buyers. Some of the artists lack basic business skills; being illiterate in their own language and being maths illiterate is common. If we were to help them establish themselves on an international level we would also need to teach them English.
For many young South African artists coming out of high school, few can afford the major expense of studying at a tertiary institution, their artwork goes by unnoticed and they have to find an alternative form of employment in a minimum wage job earning below $15 a day – if they’re fortunate enough: the South African unemployment rate is currently sitting at around 25% (government issued unemployment rate).
Although South Africa is a country with great potential, it is still a developing nation and with that comes many challenges. These challenges include: a retracting economy, the depreciation of the rand (local currency), South Africans are getting less value for their money. Major socio-economic issues have caused an ever increasing divide between the wealthy and the poor. Problems such as the rampant spread of diseases like HIV AIDS has resulted in many child headed households. According to the Institute of Internal Auditors, South Africa has lost up R 700 billion to corruption in the last 20 years (timeslive.co.za), this has resulted in a major loss of resources which could have possibly helped alleviate poor social conditions.
How Can the Living Art Campaign help?
Find Under Exposed Artists!
The first step for us at The Living Art Campaign is to passionately seek out these artists. As an organisation we’re making it our mission to find local artists and to start forming a relationship with them. Every artist is interviewed and asked a few questions to gain a basic understanding of what the artist’s requirements are going forward, we also try to gain an idea of the artist’s aspirations. We then determine the best route of action going forward. We ask ourselves; how can we help establish this artist?
Apply Value to Artists and their Work:
One of the most important responsibilities of The Living Art Campaign is to in-still value in the artist and his or her artworks. To do this we explore the inspiration and meaning behind the art work; this is because meaning gives intellectual value. Once we know more about the artworks we can begin marketing the artworks online as well as the artist themselves. Our initial focus is gaining local support and attention, we believe that this can be done through events such as auctions and galleries, through these events we’re able to display the artist’s work and hopefully auction it off at a far greater value, this will provide a benchmark for the artists, it also adds value to their work and hopefully encourages them in their talents.
Educate the Artists:
Education is key! We don’t just want to be an art agent, we want to help teach artists valuable skills that will help them become an independent artist. This includes helping them become literate in their own language as well as helping them speak in English – especially if they wish to operate overseas. Being maths literate is also crucial, an artist needs to understand how to work with percentages as well as costs and profit. The Living Art Campaign charges a 30% commission for works sold, this money goes back into the Campaign and is used to cover the costs involved, such as marketing and events; this is communicated upfront with the artist – we do not proceed until they fully understand how commission works. By doing this we help them gain a basic but realistic understanding of business in the world of art works, this will benefit them when they become an established artist.
Provide Basic Marketing Tools:
The Living Art Campaign helps artists by supplying them their own page on our website with their own gallery, we’ll also set them up with a business card. As they develop we’ll teach them how to go about getting their own business cards printed, as well as help them set up and use a Facebook page whereby they can maintain an online presence.
Provide a Collaborative Work-space:
The Living Art Campaign offers studio facilities to artists. Whether it’s raining or sunny outside, the Living Art Campaign offers local artists a place to produce art works. The workspace is collaborative, meaning that artists share and work together in the same space. This an effective means of development; artists are able to learn from one another and inspire one another. This facility also has internet access as well as a computer.
Help Young Underprivileged Artists:
The Living Art Campaign is searching for talent in the High Schools of underprivileged communities. Art students who are about graduate and don’t have the opportunity to study at a tertiary institution will be welcomed to join the Living Art Campaign to help establish themselves and to help them earn an income from their artwork. Some of our long term goals include offering bursaries for students to further their education in the field of visual arts.
As mentioned previously, the Living Art Campaign will help artists establish an online presence, we want to offer them an international audience. The Living Art Campaign hopes to build relationships with overseas collectors and enthusiasts, this will help bring tremendous opportunities and exposure to the artists, in this area the website will become pivotal when it comes to marketing and selling art works. AdSense and search engine optimization will also help the campaign gain notoriety and provide more website ‘hits’ and hopefully, more sales (we still need to establish store features on the website). Locally we’re going to begin employing marketing strategies including street pole advertising, newspaper advertising as well as articles, this will help get the attention of local communities, and this is because not everyone going online is going to search for art, or click on links to art pages if they have no interest in the art world. With an effective advertising campaign commuters and readers will not be able to miss out on seeing several adverts on street poles as they drive past or flip through the pages of the local newspaper. Paper media will therefore play an important role in drawing in the attention of broader communities and will hopefully develop a keen interest in Art for them too! Eventually we may even market over the radio. This of course all will require funding.
Long Term Goals:
The long term vision of the Living Art Campaign is to bring about a whole new era in Art for South Africa and Africa as a whole. The Living Art Campaign plans to expand branches into both cities and rural areas, to build galleries and state of the art studios to provide a platform for under exposed and underprivileged artists. We want to stretch beyond the borders of South Africa, creating a diverse network of artists and whole new art economy for the continent, creating a culture which honours talented African artist’s and allows them to make a proper living off of their art work. The Living Art Campaign will be a beacon of hope for Artists all over Africa; in the spirit of Ubuntu (human kindness) it will be community focused, offering support systems and opportunities that will change the lives of many underprivileged individuals. It is a daring vision, it is almost scary to think of the challenge, but the talent is there and we can nurture it! With the right amount of love and passion this could be the difference that Africa needs.
And so this is where we need you. On the 13th November 2015 we’re going big, we’re going to be having our official launch. Any financial support you could offer will be greatly appreciated. If you wish to donate to this cause, please feel free to email: firstname.lastname@example.org we’ll respond with our details and a big thank-you! If you’re a company wishing to donate we’ll gladly post your logo on Home page.