17 July 2007
People sometimes wondered how somebody with managerial expertise can afford to spend their time, effort and energy to non-profit initiatives. There is nothing messianic or heroic in such a paradigm. People often look up to success and fulfillment in terms of material and financial success instead of transcendence (too scary word and too suspect) and inner abundance. Baidy, an artist friend says it best "simple but not poor".
The recent developments in corporate social responsibility (not eschewing 'profit' but widening its meaning to include a win-win solution for all) simply meant encompassing what you love to do and do best to benefit not only yourself but also other people. In art and in business, one does not focus on vision-mission statements that sustain economic and artistic growth alone, one needs to expand that VMOS structure into a doable and comprehensible scenario that challenges ideas and skills to develop and expand communities. Thus, we have organizations like Gawad Kalinga that not only assist in building houses but sustainable communities (livelihood and training, sense of pride, etc.) that allows the program to continue and develop long after the volunteers have left.
In art, we see artists who have organized themselves into a professional collective that responds to their various needs: artistic space, curatorial expertise, promotions and marketing, etc. We see organizations slowly building up their member's work folio, documentation, grants and exchange opportunities. Most of these individuals and groups have remained quiet about their initiatives. Somehow, the fulfillment is not dependent on public awareness and popularity but more on successful implementation of an ideal. Art, after all, works on the ideal concept. The creative genius that must transcend the craft and commodification.
Among my peers, I see a lot of 'freelance' workers extending consultancies and creatives beyond and above their ideals (read: they produced excellent work whether these were for paying and non-paying clients!) What does non-paying clients mean? These are the prevailing markets whose ideas are dependent on skills and expertise which they can not afford. Artists for one can not afford to hire professionals to 'market' them and their works. Marketing must expand beyond the notion of just selling (art brokerage, etc.) but also of a wide range of PR work: image-building, network/database, appraisal/documentation, etc. But there are artists who are eager to learn and/or source people who can help or train them. I got a whole collection of artworks from artists who expressed their appreciation for my assistance in creating their folios, grants proposal, project feasibility studies, even creative ideas! I get calls for help in doing monologues, stories, visual art concepts, lecture papers, etc. The reason why people remain afloat in these non-financial exchanges is because most of these people have found the paradigm where less is more. They have simple and comfortable lifestyles. I should know because I have chosen to devote my time to non-profit but fulfilling work.
It is not exactly a thankless affair. I am overwhelmed by letters of appreciation and endless support database for most of my projects and initiatives!
Most of my students express their appreciation in creative ways.
Since I love animals, they produced works with animal concepts.
I also get SMS updates (and YM notes!) to tell me when they win awards in art competitions, move on to architecture and fine arts courses in college, have an artist exhibition, and yes, when they were able to sell an artwork! But the best part (the win-win part) is that I derived a lot of satisfaction and creative insights from their works and their world because I get invited in as a guest. And that's the best reward of all!