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Times of India

This is excerpt from an original article on Times of India.

When it comes to art, these two Bangalorean entrepreneurs take a contrarian stance. “Art is not only a trade for the gifted, only meant to be experienced and enjoyed by a select few at the very top of their fields,” says Victor Mohan, co-founder of The Crimson Canvas, which organizes art workshops in the city. He was of course talking about the art market, which, traditionally speaking, is a good example of a ‘winner-takes-all’ industry, where a very small proportion of artists claim a very large market share. For instance, in 2017, just the work of 25 artists accounted for 44.6% of the $2.7 billion generated by public art auction sales. “This selectivity often intimidates people, and they tend to refrain from experiencing art, complete with its meditative, calming effects apart from myriad other benefits it has to offer,” he added.

As children, both Victor and Senneil Gomes, his current business partner and co-founder of The Crimson Canvas, found art to be a creative outlet, which gave them an escape from the stresses of life. The duo however noticed that this opinion wasn’t shared by many of their classmates. “It almost seemed as though one needed to learn certain skills to create art,” says Senneil Gomes. “What about creating art for fun? The art that you create does not necessarily have to be of the same caliber as that of Dali or Warhol. Sometimes art can just be used as a medium to engage your thoughts and express yourself,” she adds. They aren’t alone in this view point, as the ‘Fun art’ industry, of which ‘Paint & Sip’ is an offshoot, is a $100 million industry in the US and it is slowly gaining traction even in Indian markets spearheaded by workshop organizers.

Placing inclusion at the heart of operations

At the five-month mark, however, they were not completely content with the outcomes. Despite their efforts in making their workshops accessible to everyone, they were still out-of-reach for many disadvantaged populations. Victor added, “How would a child belonging to an underprivileged community ever afford our workshops, no matter how much we lowered our pricing?” Placing the core understanding that ‘Anyone can paint’ at the center of their operations meant that they had to find novel ways to increase the accessibility of their workshops.

Reach Lives volunteer paints an acrylic painting
Reach Lives volunteer leads a P2E workshop

Uniquely however, Victor and Senneil had access to a list of beneficiaries who were amongst the most disadvantaged in the city. This list came from another one of their ventures, an NGO called REACH LIVES, which was involved in medical outreach activities among the urban poor at the time. “We had a list of orphanages that we could work with and we decided to launch our ‘Paint to Empower’ initiative,” said Victor adding, “REACH LIVES gave us not only a list of potential beneficiaries, but also logistical and volunteer support that we could readily employ in this initiative.” As part of this initiative, on-boarded artists would dedicate one day of the month to conduct a scaled-down version of their workshop for kids at a selected orphanage. They were able to drive costs down by leveraging synergies between the two organizations and make the endeavor feasible.

Besides conducting the ‘Paint to Empower’ workshops, The Crimson Canvas also collects the paintings made during these workshops and organizes fundraisers to auction off the paintings and raise supplementary funds for the orphanages. “The Dussera and Diwali fundraisers especially were very effective,” says Victor. The Crimson Canvas is reported to have conducted over 15 such events in Bengaluru alone.

The Next Steps

“We are very excited to expand our range of offerings,” said Senneil adding, “We know that art takes many unique forms and the more we open our platform to people on sites like Instagram, the more we are finding ourselves being blown away by the sheer creativity of some individuals.” They plan on adding more art forms on their platform by engaging enterprising artists in the city. They also plan to expand to other cities in India. Simultaneously, they will be expanding their ‘Paint to Empower’ initiative to include the elderly at care homes for whom supplementary income can be very useful. “We are also excited to welcome the first batch of graduates from our ‘Paint to Empower’ program,” said Senneil adding, “We will be involving some of them in our core operations as adjunct staff and perhaps as instructors in the future.”

Group of children holding paintings in front of an orphanage
P2E event at Good Sheperds Orphanage, Bangalore

Read the full article on Times of India.


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