Hanming: Aditi has always been a fan of my artwork, expressing how lighthearted and meaningful the artworks are. One day over lunch at her place, we were playing around with the idea of sharing my work with a wider audience and leveraging on art to create social good.
Aditi: I do believe Singapore is a place where there’s a lot of patrons who want to do good, but a lot of times we may have a blind eye. So the idea of sharing Hanming’s artwork to raise funds for non-profit organisations in Singapore was born.
Hanming: Late in November, we launched Rouge, an online self-initiated fundraiser, with the goal of assisting beneficiaries of three local charity organisations, all of which champion causes that hits close to home for the both of us.
Aditi: We want to be able to encourage conversations of these non-profits. Beyond this fundraiser, I believe that this would open up awareness, topics and communities that are impacted at large, hence engaging the broader patron community.
Hanming: 2020 has been a strange year for everyone and Singapore is not what it used to be. But you also realise there are so many communities that are more impacted by the pandemic than others.
Aditi: The impact on economic means for a lot of marginalised communities was very apparent. In choosing what communities to support from a long list, ultimately, we prioritised those impacted most by the pandemic, especially by the loss of a job or income.
Hanming: Most of the art collection for the fundraiser was inspired by the circuit breaker we all experienced. The hot meals we cooked at home represented the joy and comfort we still enjoyed despite the ongoing pandemic that changed so many aspects of our lives.
Aditi: Many of us overlook the prevalence of food insecurity, even in Singapore’s economy. This motivated us to support a cooked meal initiative by a local charity, Food From The Heart. Project Belanja! is an initiative offering hot meals to its beneficiaries, redeemable at designated food stalls in local neighbourhoods, via the Food Trust mobile app.
Hanming: As women ourselves, we are acutely aware of the social challenges women face in society and how different the impact is for each woman. Whilst shortlisting our charity partners, we wanted to work with at least one non-profit specifically supporting women in our community.
Aditi: For me, this strikes a chord. My helper came home shaken one afternoon; her friend was sent home abruptly by the employee in the middle of this pandemic. Typically, they are better cushioned, but in this situation, if you return to your home of origin, finding employment and coming back immediately is unlikely.
Hanming: Witnessing first-hand the challenges and uncertainty surrounding the lives of foreign domestic workers (FDWs) gave us insight on how they keep our families safe and well, support us to keep our careers, whilst being a vulnerable section of our society.
Aditi: If you speak to FWDs, many share about going back to their country to start their own business, so they are saving up money. For example, my helper wants to go back and start her own salon. So we asked ourselves, what can we do to help them plan and save?
Hanming: That’s when we approached Aidha, an organisation empowering FDWs and lower-income women by gifting them financial literacy education. With basic financial education, risk planning and some vocational training, these knowledge and skills become valuable for when they go back to start up their business.
Aditi: This fundraiser also made me more cognisant of the challenges that the pandemic has brought to the artist communities, specifically when Hanming shared with me how at the moment, sustainability is a big issue in the art scene.
Hanming: Art tells people who we are, and represents what’s important to us. It is a visual language that cuts across cultures and languages. The closure of art galleries, theatres and music venues, resulted in artists no longer having access to traditional forums to share their talent. In this new normal, having an outlet to express ourselves is pertinent for our well-being.
Aditi: With this in mind, we approached Art Outreach, an organisation that harnesses art to educate and increase literacy of visual arts, and offers engaging programs that support emerging artists and curators.
Hanming: We don’t know how much we would receive from the fundraiser. But we want to show that, you know, every single effort counts. And if you raise a bit of awareness about these issues, you can get people to talk about it.
Aditi: Irrespective of how much funds we may receive, for me this has been an enriching journey and it leaves me with a very positive feeling.
Interview by: Nur Hidayah Abidin
The online art sale cum charity fundraiser will be available from 20 November to 15 December 2020. 100% of the net proceeds from the fundraiser will be donated to your charity of choice.
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Everyone has an incredible and inspiring story to share. These are such stories by the everyday people in Singapore. #everydaypeoplesg