Creating shared value (CSV), rather than corporate social responsibility, has been singled out by Harvard professors as a more self-sustainable solution to societal issues. And it is what Jack Yu and his wife Faith Lum have modelled their new art gallery Art Social after.
Yu believes that CSV allows companies to align their success with social progress. “It enables them to see supporting social issues as branding opportunities while making positive social changes.”
Art Social, which opened in January, seeks to form partnerships between brands and the couple’s social outreach. “We design activities or events to serve people with vulnerabilities, such as single mums and people with depression. At the same time, these engagements also serve to articulate the brand messages of the supporting company. Greater brand or product understanding is thus created in a socially responsible way,” says Lum.
The couple, who also own Goshen Art Gallery, had launched ArtSE (which stands for Art Social Enterprise) in 2018 to curate art experiences and art workshops as therapy for people with special needs and disabilities.
Lum first started using art as therapy with her daughter, who was severely dyslexic and had trouble communicating her needs. Art therapy allowed the girl to express herself through the use of colours. Within a year, her condition had improved and she was painting on her T-shirts and shoes.
Motivated, Lum started using art in her volunteer work to reach out to the underprivileged and those with special needs.
“That’s when I met persons with vulnerabilities who displayed great potential in art. But prior to discovering their calling, they could not hold down jobs due to a mismatch in their skillsets,” Lum says.
This inspired ArtSE, which provides fine art and craftsmanship training to those with special needs. It also creates jobs for them in companies where ArtSE’s workshops and art programmes are conducted.
With Art Social, the team is focused on establishing CSV partnerships through project management and technology. It reflects how closely they endeavour to work with stakeholders and the community to create quality social impact solutions.
Yu explains: “Our user-friendly digital processes help our artists with vulnerabilities manage their inventory and generate invoices for the pieces sold. This way, they don’t need to be physically present; it also helps reduce the manpower needed to oversee this.”
This story first appeared in the March 2020 issue of A Magazine.