Taking art to the office

Written by Sulekha Nair | Updated: Apr 27 2008, 05:34am hrs
Stroll in and watch artwork in the office premises. Qualcomm, a wireless technology firm, promotes art in its office by allowing one upcoming artist to display his/her work. Called Works@Work, the initiative seeks to provide a platform for emerging Indian artists to exhibit their creations, network with art aficionados, and create quality promotional support. It is a bi-annual initiative at Qualcomms Mumbai office, as part of Qualcomms Corporate Giving programme.

A collection of abstract etchings by Mayura Deshpande is showcased at Qualcomm currently. A visibly please Deshpande explains: My first exhibition was a group show in 2004. This is my first solo exhibition, and I am happy to have got a platform where I can display many of my works. Deshpande says, Any upcoming artist wants his/her art to be seen at an exhibition. I was given this opportunity and the hassles of transportation, framing the art work were also taken care of by Qualcomm.

The Works@Work initiative has been supporting emerging artists for two years now, and has so far showcased three artists work at their offices in Mumbai. Of the initiative, Kanwalinder Singh, president, Qualcomm India and South Asia explains, This is a unique programme through which Qualcomm finds ways to support promising young artists, providing a service to art enthusiasts and making the workplace vibrant. We provide free exhibit space and quality promotional support to emerging Indian artists. The Works@Work programme is only to showcase art and connect art aficionados with the artists. Talks of potential sale happen between the artist and the collectors, but Qualcomm is in no way involved in the transaction.

The artist is selected either by approaching leading art institutes like the Sir JJ School of Fine Arts and seeking references of high potential alumni or through references from previous artists, employees and their family. We necessarily scout for emerging artists rather than established ones. We want to provide focused promotional support to one artist and ensure exclusive visibility during the showing. Hence in the last four openings, we have had single-artist showings, says Singh.

Getting a breakthrough to display ones work is a big opportunity for any artist. An artist needs all the opportunities to promote his/her work, says Vickram Sethi, gallerist, curator and entrepreneur. To have a catalogue made by a corporate, to have the hassles of transportation of art, et al, taken care of well, it is a fantastic opportunity. Upcoming artists need more such promotions.

YES Bank, a private sector bank, has a similar initiative. It showcased art by an underprivileged artist at its Chennai office. V Raajendrans works were seen by the Banks customers as well. The objective of the art exhibition was to collect funds to educate and impart knowledge to children in association with V-EXCEL Educational Trust, a NGO dedicated to education of children with mental and developmental disabilities, informs Somak Ghosh, president, corporate finance & development banking, YES Bank. The responsible banking division of the bank integrates social responsibility and sustainability in their business focus to address the education of children with special needs. Its great that we were able to make available our premises to showcase the artists talents.

Art aficionados were free to contact the artist and buy his works. YES Bank has not repeated this initiative since. We are receptive to such proposals, says Ghosh. We chalk out our events with the core theme of our CSR which is to provide support to the disadvantage sector. With this in mind, we buy greeting cards from Akansha, an NGO that works for street children, for sending out to our clients and customers.

And then there is ABN Amro. The bank has a concept called Bancafe launched over a year ago. A platform to promote many streams of creative talent which are in search of an audience is created exclusively for its customers who wish to showcase their talent, to reach out to other like-minded people and to form a community of their own, ABNs branch lobby is also a venue for Bancafe events. Some of the forms of art that have been showcased here are paintings, sculpture, pottery, charcoal sketches, etc from artists in search of a platform. Clients can use the platform for hosting art and jewellery exhibitions, book reading, musical evenings, art workshops, etc.

According to sources at ABN Amro, the club is a platform to engage customers, create an opportunity for like-minded people to interact on subjects of common interest, who in turn would build a financial relationship with the bank. It is therefore our endeavour to make the customer visit the bank for something other than just fiscal reasons, says an official.

So here is an art and hearty way to connect with customers account.