The Everyday Revolution, a social enterprise that participated in the Singapore International Foundation’s Young Social Entrepreneurs (YSE) 2012 programme, showcases the art of special needs artists outside traditional galleries and aims to be part of a long-term solution, for its artists and for society.
“I am trying to find new ways of showcasing art, in unexpected areas and changing the perspective of how people view art and this group of people [with special needs] within our society,” says Sophia Tan, 29, co-founder of The Everyday Revolution, along with banker and volunteer Ong Shuying, 29 and artist and designer Roger Ng, 28 . “We wouldn’t go so far to say that they are just like us – because they are not - but they aren’t charity cases. We firmly believe that our artists produce good art and we want to champion that.”
The social enterprise, launched in April 2012, also aims to promote volunteerism as it builds a like-minded community of working professionals with an interest in art and design. And these objectives are achieved through lifestyle products such as notebooks, foldable tote bags, postcards and coffee mugs that have been designed to showcase the art. “Not a lot of people may be able to afford the art created by the artists, but most can afford something nice made with the art,” says Tan.
Rather than sell them via traditional retail avenues like bricks and mortar stores – “where the customers don’t get to interact or learn about the artists”– their products are currently sold only through specially themed events.
In August, 2012, they collaborated with designers of fashion incubator, Parco Next Next at Millennia Walk, for the exhibition ‘Nation Pride: Everyday Belonging.’ It saw 23 designers creating 23 outfits, based on five pieces of art by The Everyday Revolution artists. In June 2013, they launched the ‘Everyday Action Live Canvas’ community art project, in which the public was invited to paint on a canvas with the silhouette of the city on it. Over 500 members of the public, volunteers and artists worked together on this piece. In November 2013, they did an event with the Singapore-based Elephant Family Charity on the rooftop of Club Hotel. Artist Kenny Tan (Sophia’s brother), created elephant themed art, which was used for Christmas cards, art prints and cushions.
At the end of the day, says Tan, “art is tough, whether special needs or not. If we want this to be sustainable for artists, it must be about brand-building for them.” Part of this involves getting more projects for the artists and commissions for illustrations, art and corporate gifts.
The larger problem in society, as Tan sees it, is that “there is nothing to do for those who finish special school.” While she doesn’t know if her social enterprise can solve this issue, she does see the work they do as a small part of the larger solution.
“It starts on the micro level,” she says, “with the desire to help just one person. That’s a good way to start because it is somewhere to start.”
The Everyday Revolution was one of the teams which participated in the Singapore International Foundation’s Young Social Entrepreneurs (YSE) 2012 programme. For more details on YSE 2014 and how you can get involved, visit www.sif.org.sg/our-work/gb/yse/about.
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