Partnering with local Artists & Telling Stories of Resilience
About The Campaign
2020 has been chock-full of challenges. Coronavirus brought to the forefront just how stark and glaring inequalities in our country are — be it socially, environmentally or financially. Most Indian household incomes experienced an enormous economic shock and more than 136 million people lost a fourth of their income. A Food and Agriculture Organization assessment shows that in India alone, an estimated 400 million people slipped into poverty due to the impacts of the pandemic. All of these point to the stupendous shortcomings in the way our systems are built currently and our approach to inclusive development.
The aftermath of the pandemic must be understood as a time to reflect and build back better — an opportunity for us to recreate a world that can equip society’s most excluded and vulnerable with the tools to be socially inclusive and climate resilient.
Early during the pandemic, SELCO Foundation went back to the grassroots to assess the damage caused by COVID-19. What awaited us instead were stories of resounding hope and unshakable persistence from the ground, where households, enterprises and communities had managed to cushion the hard economic blow of the crisis by relying on sustainable energy solutions that had been built over the last few years.
Stories of farmers who processed their own produce and supplied it to local grocery stores and ration distribution centres. Stories of tailoring units that turned into mask manufacturing units and supplied their products to local government officials and health workers. Stories of dairy farmers who were able to cater to their farm needs despite labour shortages and broken supply chains.
This initiative was taken up in reference to two main questions-
- What can we learn from these communities?
- And how can we partner with them to tell their Stories of Resilience to their fellow farmers, tailors, shop owners, rural businesses, entrepreneurs, etc.
When it came to sharing these stories with the rest of the world, it seemed like an obvious choice for us to tell them in partnership with artists from at-risk communities themselves. With exhibition spaces, fairs, festival markets coming to a standstill and non-essential commodity sales facing a high reduction, artisans and craft clusters have been some of the worst hit economically during the pandemic. Without an active, deliberate effort to revive this industry, these artists will be forced to migrate or move to other livelihood options, de-skilling an entire generation of craftsmen and women.
India has a rich and diverse history of folk art forms that have stood the test of time and been passed down from generation to generation. Partnering with local folk artists enabled us to do two things in tandem — give a much needed boost to their livelihoods and showcase their enormous talents and skill sets to the rest of the world. By engaging with these Stories of Resilience, we hope to give a new platform to the artists, and just as importantly, their centuries old art forms.
Through this initiative, the “Let’s Rise Up” campaign by SELCO Foundation and IKEA Foundation with AIACA showcase 6 artforms from 6 states weaving a tapestry of innovation, resolve and resilience. It brings out the stories of enterprises and their communities and the positive and impactful lessons from COVID in order to build back better.