RNAF, founded by Rouble Nagi around 6 years back, is an organization focussed on helping the under-privileged children use art as a way of expression to re-discover themselves and interact with the society. It also provides vocational training as a means to earn and sponsors exhibitions for young and aspiring artists facing financial and physical limitations.
We interviewed her to delve deeper into her ideals and inspirations and learn more about RNAF.
1. Tell us about your background before Rouble Nagi Art Foundation. Share with us briefly, your journey and inception of Rouble Nagi Art Foundation.
I have always been a full time artist much before I started Rouble Nagi Art Foundation. Works of art, vividly address complex problems and issues in recent times, culture, and society. They also serve as a springboard for confronting issues that the human race continues to face today. As an artist I feel it is our moral duty to display what the society is going through, as art is a medium that is displayed to a large variety of audience- national and international. Subjects that are relevant to current situation should be projected sometimes in our works. Every individual artist has his duty towards the society, which they must do good in any way they can. Rouble Nagi Art Foundation (RNAF) was started to help feed a child‘s creativity which can provide benefits in all areas of life — personal, professional and even spiritual. Children should be encouraged in thought and action. As an artist and an individual, I wanted to give something back to the society. And more than anything else I love children and love being surrounded by them.
2. What is Rouble Nagi Art Foundation all about? Tell us more in detail about the offering.
The objective of the foundation is to extract hidden talent from underprivileged children who don‘t have the opportunity to showcase their talent in this competitive world. RNAF along with Pratham (an NGO), exposes children, between the ages of 8 and 14, to different aspects of the topic at hand. During the art workshops, they create their own pieces based on specific themes such as scenery, landscape stories, etc. After every workshop, the children are short-listed and taken for a seven day camp after which the top 50 are given prize money. Their paintings are exhibited and auctioned. The proceeds are then directed to a valuable cause.
ROUNAK: Holding art camps for underprivileged children from various slums in Mumbai and Delhi. Our Art camps are created to give the children an equal social platform for them to interact with the society. Underprivileged children are mostly disengaged from main stream education- disruptive or withdrawn- and mostly avoid going to school. Our camps are held at municipal schools, balwadis and patshalas to encourage the children for not skipping school and that learning can be fun. In the last six years we have demonstrated that in a caring and creative environment, even the most problematic child can learn and achieve through art.
CRAYON: Each year, young and aspiring artists are chosen for a touring exhibition, which travels across the globe. Artists who cannot exhibit their work due to financial or physical restrictions are sponsored by the foundation. Handicapped artists have always been a part of past exhibitions and the foundation plans to promote them in the future as well.
Learn to Earn: RNAF believes that learning/knowledge is the key to success. As I have always said― ’Learn’ has ‘Earn’ in it. We provide study material for students going to school, and even help with admissions where required. Vocational Training programs in Art are conducted in house. We sponsor education in every field for older students.
3. What is the business model of Rouble Nagi Art Foundation?
Art is an important medium of communication and I would love for people to support artists and help promote them. Not only RNAF, but any NGO that‘s doing well for the people has my vote and support. As far as RNAF is concerned, I want to do good work and help children. Art camps are fun and I‘m happy with the response.
4. Tell us about your journey when you first began. What were the challenges you faced in setting up and scaling up your enterprise? Any hurdle that you faced or are still facing?
I agree when it’s said that Indian society is very closed minded as far as women are concerned. I started my work with NGO Pratham some years back. I ran regular art classes for them in Balwadis and Patshalas, both. I feel one has to rough it out in any field- be it a govt. job, corporate job or working for an NGO. To start something is always very difficult and to make it a success is even more tasking. A woman working outdoors with men can sometimes get intimidating but I always say― a woman can always wear pants, but men can‘t wear dresses. Women in general are great at multi-tasking. My initial phase was a little difficult but once I had my team set up, things began to run smoothly. Experience is very important while working with the under privileged- text book knowledge can sometimes fail on ground. I tell my volunteers that many of them would probably throw in the towel after a month‘s work in the slum. Practical experience is very important and field work always helps in understanding the actual on-ground scenario.
5. How is Rouble Nagi Art Foundation funded? Any early stage money/seed stage experience that you would like to share with us?
We are funded by corporates, individuals and have regular fund raising events. Also, I have been donating 40% of my earnings for the last 4 years for social causes. Seed stage included more of family and friends- initially it was difficult, but it picked up sooner than I expected. Rouble Nagi Art Foundation is currently in Mumbai and Delhi and I plan to spread to Pune, Bangalore and Ahmedabad by 2017.
Any other areas or initiatives that you plan to venture into in the future?
We are working on numerous projects which will be launched by 2017, one of them happens to be a public art initiative project throughout the country.
What has been your inspiration?
As an artist I always wanted to give back to the society. I think any true artist is always inspired by his surroundings and life. Living in India, one cannot turn a blind eye to the situation women and children of this country are facing. Around nine years ago I met Mr. Madhav Chavan who is a social activist and entrepreneur. He is the co-founder and CEO of the educational non-profit, ‘Pratham‘. I was inspired by listening to him and seeing such wonderful things ‘Pratham‘ had accomplished. In a small way, I started conducting art classes for them, and later started Rouble Nagi Art Foundation. I gained a perspective and started seeing the impact of small things. You realise what is more important. Now after seven years of working with NGOs, I can tell you that you are not just giving back to the society, but are also gaining. Social work will show you some of the darkest and most upsetting sides of humanity and there will be times when it can all seem very depressing. Your effort and work will give you satisfaction beyond what you can expect and you become extremely grateful for all that you have and realise that true wealth does not come from material things. It‘s all about ‘Equality not Charity.’
‘The inspiration to create something beautiful always comes from life.’ As an artist I get inspired by life, and still think that life is a learning process, and our experiences, both good and bad, are a part it. Travel is a big part of my life- I have absorbed with my eyes and try to incorporate colour and texture to the medium that I am working with. The one phenomenon that is a constant in life is ‘change.’ I always change my theme and medium during work- I cannot repeat as I get bored. Even now if I have an idea of a form that I wish to create, I would start instantly without any delay even if its midnight. My friends think its eccentric but if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be able to create.
What will Rouble Nagi Art Foundation look like in 10 years from now? All perspectives – people, business, revenue, team, size or anything you foresee for the venture.
Goals keep changing as and when you achieve them. For RNAF the goal will always remain to achieve a 100% literary rate in the country. Education is the key for success. We have programs such as ‘Learn To Earn‘, where we run vocational coaching classes for students. We have ‘Crayon‘ which is a program designed to support artists, and handicapped artists to exhibit their work. ‘ROUNAK‘ is Rouble Nagi Art Camps designed for children. These are some of the programs where we also have regular art shows.
We are working on starting our first institute in Mumbai for Rouble Nagi Art Foundation, which will host a free of cost art gallery for artists, a library, an activity centre and more.
Any school/ campus-connect initiatives that you are pursuing or plan to pursue?
Yes plans will be executed soon.
Any experience or advice you would like to share with soon to be start-up founders out there?
My idea of a true artist is someone who paints or creates for his satisfaction and not for others. There‘s no formula as such to make it big in the art line, young artists are all doing so well for themselves in India. All you have to do is just be at it, and not get competitive with your fellow artists as there is room for us all. Same formula applies for Start-ups, they have to be patient. Everything will fall in place as per your timeline.
We wish the Rouble Nagi Art Foundation the very best in their endeavours and hope more people like Rouble Nagi emerge in our society to help uplift those in need. Truly, she’s an inspiration!