Ripple Effect is a global movement that aims to bring about change through art

Ripple Effect is rather difficult to define, and its artists agree. “It’s always difficult to explain what we do,” says Susan Clarke from B-Arts, an art collaborative in the U.K. Started in Europe in June this year, the movement is committed to bringing people in India, Indonesia, Paris and the U.K. together and advocating change through different forms of art.

Creating opportunities

This community-oriented initiative strives to create opportunities where people of different communities can interact and learn from each other. This project, funded by Asia-Europe Foundation and Arts Network Asia, is part of ‘Creative Encounters — Cultural Partnerships between Asia and Europe’ and has tied-up with a local incubatory collective mARTram for its Chennai chapter. “We have five artists from Paris and three from the U.K. who will work on different levels with various communities here,” says Sangeeta Isvaran of mARTram. “It’s about how art can be life and not just a skill and how it’s important for all of us,” adds Mathieu Huot of Association Freres Poussier, Aubervilliers, France.

The group will work with NGOs and other organisations over 10 days in the city through workshops and other art-based events to encourage local people. “In Aubervilliers, a suburb of Paris, we have a lot of Chinese, Tamils and other communities. But we realised they never communicated with each other. So, in June, as a part of Ripple Effect, we arranged a Tamil banquet,” says Metthieu Bonicel. “And there, we learnt to eat with our hands and talk to other people. For them, it was their first dinner with other cultures. These are the barriers we’re looking to bring down.”

In India, the group hopes to allow people to change their perspective about change. They will be holding workshops with the transgender community along with Sahodaran (an NGO that works with sexual minorities) and a life skills workshop through dance with the St. Louis College for the Deaf. There will also be a photo-film-projection-performance by the children of Urur Olcott Kuppam, Besant Nagar in association with Pudiyador (an NGO that aims at empowering the underprivileged through education). “We’re trying to break down hierarchy and make people believe they’re equals through various forms of art. We’ll use elements of theatre, art, sound and technology to cross boundaries. The important thing is to forget our identity and find a way to work together,” says Sangeeta.

Vanavil is another brainchild of this collaboration, which has begun efforts to enrich the physical and emotional landscape of the Government Home for Boys, Royapuram. There will also be workshops and other performances for and by the boys.

“We have the opening of the new building with performances, murals and a garden created by the children. Four other schools will interact with the boys on different themes. This will be done in association with Cholamandal Artists’ Village, Anusham Dance Group, Les Freres Poussiere and B-Arts community art organisations.”

Ripple Effect will be here till September 8. “It’s only 10 days but we hope to do very simple things because that’s how people are. Imagine how empowering it must be for these children if, at the end of a photography workshop, their work is put up for the public who appreciate them. It’s that spark they need,” says Peter Wilshaw of B-Arts. “It’s like throwing a stone in a pond and watching it create ripples.”