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Art for change

ANUSHA PARTHASARATHY
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society The Orange Street initiative provides a platform for art projects to raise funds

Showing the waySriram Ayer, CEO of NalandaWay FoundationPhoto: K. Pichumani
Showing the waySriram Ayer, CEO of NalandaWay FoundationPhoto: K. Pichumani

It's not just art for art's sake on www.orangestreet.in. Add some responsibility and social change, and Orange Street provides a platform for socially responsible art projects to flourish by helping them raise funds to meet their needs.

An initiative of the NalandaWay Foundation, Orange Street was born from the Kannamma Project.

“The idea was to look at 20-30 people who could raise funds online for their projects by using online social media effectively. The Kannamma Project was a success and we made Rs. 18 lakh in the first year and we thought we'd extend this to other organisations. But our only condition was that people use art as a social intervention tool,” says Sriram Ayer, founder and CEO, NalandaWay Foundation.

Projects unlimited

A theatre group for the hearing-impaired, The Exercise Book, a presentation by Anil Srinivasan, Dhritiman Chatterji and Sikkil Gurucharan about the plight of the girl child are some of the projects listed on Orange Street's website. “We look at organisations that impart a social message and have a reasonable budget through which the project can be implemented within a year. We shortlist based on innovation, art form (more so if it's a dying art form), and how they are going to create their campaign on the social media. While we look at their contacts and networking skills, we also look at organisations that don't have much of these except a brilliant project,” says Sriram.

The projects were shortlisted by a panel of experts from various fields of art and business (Vandana Gopikumar from Banyan, Deborah Thiagarajan of DakshinaChitra and Asha Mathen of Barclays to name a few).

“We shortlisted about 50 projects for review. The panel chose 18, out of which about 15 projects are up on the site for fundraising. Each project has a time period of three to six months to finish funding and an execution period. Through this, we're making sure that the people undertaking the projects are committed. We're also bringing about an extremely transparent system, creating sub-accounts for each applicant so that we'll be able to monitor even after the donation period. These rules may be stringent but we want to make sure that the donors' money is going to the project,” he explains.

Orange Street focuses only on the arts because NalandaWay is all about creating change through arts.

“Common points are very important,” Sriram says, “If I'm an artist I'd be comfortable working with an organisation that supports people like me. If it becomes too generic, then it won't work. Also, this is not withstanding the fact that artists require their freedom and space. In fact we might soon have chapters in different cities, where a group of artists and donors can come together to talk about how art can be used for social change. There is a need for conversation. There are similar models in the U.S., but not around here.”

Orange Street hopes to help launch 100 projects this year and reach up to 1,000 by the end of next year.

“When we were thinking of a name for this project, we just couldn't narrow down on one.

Then, one day, we were eating Chinese oranges and at that moment, we decided to name it Project Orange, a place where artists, audience, experts and donors come together to assist, support, mentor and get involved. Since it's like a street where we all come together, we called it Orange Street,” he adds with a smile.

ANUSHA PARTHASARATHY

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