For the second year in a row, Trialogue is partnering with The Lockdown Collection (TLC) to provide a significant platform for some of South Africa’s finest young artists in the Trialogue Business in Society Handbook. For those unfamiliar with TLC, it is a unique visual arts initiative that raised more than R2.5 million in 2020, and distributed 520 small grants of R3 000 each to vulnerable artists and art students. The artwork was widely promoted on social media, inspiring thousands, and empowering individuals to find their voices.
Co-founded by business entrepreneur Carl Bates, creative entrepreneur Lauren Woolf and educator and co- founder of Artist Proof Studio, Kim Berman, TLC continues to provide a platform for artists to grapple with some of the most pressing socioeconomic issues of the day. Last year, artists focused on Covid-19; this year, the Handbook features artworks primarily from TLC’s student-led Climate Change and the Hope for a Green Recovery Collection.
The images provide a lens through which artists see and manage a world undergoing unprecedented change. They are representations of the hard questions young people need to ask in finding opportunities for renewal, making adjustments, and permanently adapting to change.
As educators and community arts leaders, we have always been passionate about the role that artists and art play in contributing to social justice and democracy. We advocate for the notion that artists understand the importance of imagination and can therefore support others to visualise or dream alternative futures. Artworks reach beyond the artworld and find their way across disciplines into spaces that share the importance of visual stories. We are grateful to partner with the Trialogue Business in Society Handbook once again as it creates an important space for these artists’ visual voices to reach further into the business community.
Last year, proceeds from the sale of the TLC artworks were allocated to The Solidarity Fund, the Vulnerable Artist Fund (VAF) set up by TLC, and the artists themselves, many of whom donated their proceeds back into the VAF. Due to the success of TLC in 2020, we have continued in our efforts to raise money for the VAF, to help artists create or simply survive through 2021 lockdowns and hardships.
A key fundraising initiative that has raised substantial funds for artist support during the past year, has been the sales of two iconic William Kentridge print editions. At the start of the third wave of the pandemic and third lockdown during the winter months of June 2021, the TLC was gifted an artwork by Kentridge entitled Oh to Believe in Another World (one of his blue rebus text series of artworks). The TLC, in partnership with the Visual Arts Network of South Africa and Artist Proof Studio, used our expansive networks to spark an art bursary and awareness campaign across the country.
Kentridge’s Oh to Believe in Another World is a challenge to think of a future beyond the pandemic. The artwork by one of the world’s most prominent artists is both valuable, accessible, and a sound financial investment by collectors. The challenge posed is that these words and the visual association of the textual image can be our collective dream for a post-Covid recovery to re-envision our futures. The artwork actions the premise that imagination can transform despair to hope and agency.
Almost R720 000 was raised through the sales of this print as well as the previous lockdown print titled Weigh All Tears, exceeding our goals and enabling 63 students to be awarded a bursary equivalent to the value of each artwork, which sold for R12 000 each (or R20 000 for the pair). This attests to the economic mobility of artwork to produce social change and reinforces our belief that art is a powerful collective action that leads to opportunities and greater agency, helping us to address the challenges we face in these traumatic times.
We are both proud and grateful to have been invited to partner with the Trialogue Business in Society Handbook 2021 in ongoing efforts to invest in, acknowledge, and support the arts – and continually change lives.
• TLC was recently recognised by Business and Arts South Africa at their annual awards in August 2021, winning both the SMME and First Time Sponsor awards.
By Kim Berman and Lauren Woolf
– Carl Bates is Chief Executive of Sirdar Group and co-founder of The Lockdown Collection: www.thelockdowncollection.com.