What type of projects do you support?
We support artistic and cultural creations, such as documentary films, plays, art competitions, participatory festivals and so on… which have an impact on society. The impact could be direct, as with a documentary film which addresses a social issue; but it could also be indirect, such as the opening of a museum in a disadvantaged area that will help create a positive image for the area and improve the local economy. Or it could be a graphic art competition between French-speaking and Dutch-speaking schools, which is really a pretext for building bridges between these communities. The idea is to use art as a tool rather than as an end in itself.
How does Art for Good operate?
The first year we worked mainly supporting project leaders. We offer a range of services: strategic advice, promotional assistance, administrative support, obtaining finance and partnerships, etc. Here we are operating as a consultancy firm. But now we are also beginning to produce projects from start to finish. We set up a festival that took place in September at Cité Modèle, a disadvantaged area of Laeken. The idea behind the festival was to establish collaboration between all the associations working there and to bring in Belgian artists and artists from Brussels in particular. Alongside this, people living in the area had the opportunity to exhibit art they produced in workshops during the summer. Entry to the festival was free, so finance came from public funding and grants and that’s how we paid our providers.
What led you to launch this project?
I know a lot of artists and I realised that many of them have a strong sense of social engagement but they don’t always have an entrepreneurial spirit or sometimes simply lack the administrative and strategic support or just the coaching needed to get their project off the ground. Art for Good can help them live from their art and draw attention to causes that mean a lot to them.
What is the main problem facing a social enterprise like yours?
The impact we have on society is difficult to quantify, which can be disheartening for some entrepreneurs. It’s important, even before you start out, to put in place some methods for evaluating the project. Nor is it always easy to find the right balance between a profit-making enterprise and charitable work. It’s all in the business model. As I see it, the idea was to create a profitable company that’s able to pay its employees, but without getting embroiled in the complications of profit and shareholders.
Do you feel that there’s a growing interest in social entrepreneurship?
Yes, absolutely! In 2013, when I was studying at Solvay, we launched Nexense, the equivalent of Solvay Business Club for social entrepreneurship. And since then, you can feel that there’s a growing excitement among young people, who are not necessarily following traditional career paths. Also, since then, Solvay has been running a job day devoted entirely to jobs with a social purpose. Which shows that things are happening!