Sharabang launches art in Mechelen companies: “We build a bridge for our entrepreneurs with this” (Mechelen)

The first works of art by members of Sharabang have been exhibited in the transport company Van Dievel in Mechelen-Noord. © Dirk Vertommen

Mechelen

Sharabang, the Mechelen association that allows people with intellectual or multiple disabilities to enjoy art, has launched an art lending service in Mechelen businesses. “With ‘Kunstpakt’ we want to form a bridge between business and our organisation. In this way, we give our people the opportunity to exhibit their works to a new audience”, says Marleen D’Joos van Sjarabang.

Leo DeNijn

From two days of studio work and a festival with 300 participants, Sjarabang has grown into a company with 101 activities for people with a disability. They are supported to find a creative activity that is adapted to their needs and wishes.

“Beautiful works of art were created during workshops and free study sessions. By exhibiting these works, offering them for sale or rent, we give the artists an extra boost and a new platform. With the online Kunstpakt platform, we are now focusing on companies and individuals who want art with their heart on the wall,” says Marleen D’Joos van Sjarabang.

Waiting for big grant

The non-profit organization Sjarabang still cannot rely on large operational resources through government grants. “That’s why we focus on cultural entrepreneurship. With Kunstpakt, on the one hand, we want to form a bridge between the business world and a socio-cultural organization and, on the other hand, offer artists the opportunity to exhibit their works to a new audience. We aim at the business world, but private individuals can also register.”

“Today, the transport company Van Dievel is the first company with which we enter into an Art Pact. But we hope that more candidates will join us. In recent years, we have collected almost four hundred works. It is an important source of income for us. Because after all these years, we still cannot rely on large operating resources via government subsidies”, adds D’Joos.

The entrepreneurs of the transport company Van Dievel are the first company to collaborate in Kunstpakt van Sjarabang. Louis De Wael (left), CEO of Van Dievel: “Our employees inspire and connect with each other”. © Dirk Vertommen

Rina Rabau (Vld-Groen-m+), councilor in Meeting, calls Sharabang a ‘house of trust’ where people with disabilities are given every opportunity to grow. “They also open all the doors and windows in all the projects they do. Kunstpakt is another good example of this. I recently bought myself a piece of art from Sharabang and it has taken a beautiful place in my home. They will continue to be able to count on support from the city,” says Rabau.

Support

Louis De Wael, managing director of the transport company Van Dievel in Mechelen, rented six works of art for their employees’ offices on Generaal De Wittelaan. “Our employees enjoy art, and we can show our social commitment to everyone who crosses the floor. “In transport, it is important to be creative every day. We therefore hope to be able to inspire and connect our employees with each other in this way. In our company with 250 employees, we have a great diversity in the workplace. Everyone is welcome here. We will appeal to our network to support other entrepreneurs in Sharabang’s initiative.”

Stijn Michiels painted a portrait of his best friend Jurgen. It is now showing on the work floor at Van Dievel. © Dirk Vertommen

Stijn Michiels (31) from Mechelen has been active in Sharabang for many years. “I like acting, but I prefer to paint,” says the young man, who has a mental disability. “I painted the portrait of my best friend Jurgen. I’ve been working on it for three weeks. I see it hanging here in the office, and it gives me great pleasure. I have several paintings at home, but here in the office they come into their own much better,” says Stijn proudly.

Those interested can find all available works, prices for purchase or rental at www.kunstpakt.be. More information can be requested from info@sjarabang.be

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