Art for a Cause - Meera Agarwal

‘Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.’ These words of wisdom from the Bible have been the social responsibility mantra for the Gati Ltd. team. The express distribution and supply chain Indian major has launched ‘Gati Muskaan’ to make sure they are being a socially responsible organisation while also spreading ‘muskaan’, which in Hindi translates to happiness. The programme focuses on core issues like education, health, environment, and community development. The company’s aim is to make sure they bring about sustainable change, which can be brought about only when all facets of life are considered as a whole. Keeping this in mind, Meera Agarwal is organising ‘Affordable Art with a Heart’, an auction that will take place on February 9 at 5:30pm at the Gati corporate office, followed by high tea.

Tell us a bit about the forthcoming art auction.
Affordable Art is a showcase of exquisite art by budding artists. The event will raise money for Gati’s social welfare initiatives by ‘Gati Muskaan,’ which supports orphanages and education for the underprivileged. The exhibition will also feature paintings by children from Ashray Akriti – a school for special children. In addition, I am showcasing some of my works too, and all the proceeds from the sale of these will go to Isha Vidhya (Isha by Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev). The event is being organised at the Gati Corporate office.

How did the idea for this initiative come about?
Gati has been on the forefront of supporting local communities and artists to get their work to larger global platforms. For example, our Arts Express service was introduced more than a decade ago, with the sole purpose of providing “white-glove logistics”, which is required for valuable art pieces – whether sculptures, antique pieces or paintings. ‘Gati Muskaan’ is our corporate social responsibility division that supports orphanages and education for the underprivileged.

I reckon that great beauty should be accessible to all. “Affordable Art with a Heart” was conceptualised as a novel amalgamation of encouraging local artists, while supporting social welfare initiatives.

What kind of art can we expect to see at the auction?
Hyderabad’s art scene has been ever-evolving. Over time, Hyderabad has seen the launch of a number of art galleries. Our initiative provides a platform to budding local artists to display and make their art accessible to a wider audience.

Unlike in the West, philanthropy amongst the more privileged in India is less common. How do you feel this can this change?
While it is true that India has a nascent philanthropic environment, recent reports from prominent consulting firms suggest that philanthropy in the country is now significantly ahead of that in other countries with similar levels of prosperity. A growing economy, wealth creation and global interest in India will underpin the growth in philanthropic activity of both individuals and corporations.

What inspired you to work on this?
I got the idea of 'Affordable Art' while I was in Singapore attending an exhibition by upcoming artists. The exhibition was completely sold out, unlike other art exhibitions. I thought of the idea and realised I would like to do it for a philanthropic purpose.

We would like to continue the event in the future and expand the reach to other geographies to promote talent and make art affordable. At the same time, we remain committed to our vision of giving back to the community.       – as told to Suneela