Colart has a range of initiatives that aim to promote societal benefit. This includes making sure discontinued stock is put to good use, for example by supporting art workshops for refugees in Kenya and helping a mental health charity in the UK.
Instead of disposing of discontinued stock, the Colart sustainability committee has designed a fast track charity process where Colart donates discontinued stock to local charities.
In late 2017, Colart set up its Charity Product Donation Initiative as part of its sustainability work by donating products from all company warehouses around the world. Colart has now helped over 200 charities in the UK, Europe and the US. Donating discontinued products allows Colart to reduce its stock and inventory, which saves warehouse space and money. It is also a great way for Colart to help charities – from schools and mental health facilities, to homeless charities and women’s prisons.
The selection process
Charities as well as Colart employees are welcome to approach Colart’s sustainability committee with suggestions of charities that require art supplies. The committee has two guiding principles, which all potential donations are reviewed against:
1. Art promotes well-being and is a form of therapy
2. Everyone should have access to art
Any charity or event that is aligned with at least one of these principals can submit a charity stock form.
Colart employees are also encouraged to work closely with the charity they are passionate about. Every Colart employee has one day a year to spend supporting their chosen charity.
Hands on art workshop programme
One of the projects Colart has supported includes a collaboration with artist Lisa Milroy, who worked with Vodafone Foundation and UNHCR to create the Instant Network Schools ‘Hands On’ art workshop programme. The programme engages students at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya through practical art workshops delivered by Lisa in London through interactive video conferencing sessions. Lisa also travels to the refugee camp to conduct annual Hands On workshops in person.
A Hands On art workshop exhibition was organised in London in February at Elephant West, Colart’s public cultural centre. The workshop’s primary purpose was to raise awareness among the general public and to celebrate the creativity of students at the Kakuma Refugee Camp. The exhibition provided a visual timeline of the Hands On Art Workshop Programme from inception through to the present day and beyond, as well as a beautiful display of original paintings and drawings by the school students at the Kakuma Refugee Camp.
Collaborating to overcome mental health challenges
Colart also collaborates with Mind, the leading mental health charity in England and Wales, to provide free art materials for the art therapy sessions it organises.
Mind recognises and champions the positive impact of arts-based approaches to therapies. In 2012, the charity created the Creative Therapies Fund to provide grants to its network of local Mind charities that enable opportunities for individuals and communities to engage with the arts as a way to address some of their mental health challenges. The therapeutic activities included painting, drawing, craft, film, design, photography, reading, creative writing and singing. Mind discovered that many people with mental health problems, who had previously struggled to articulate their experiences and emotions, were able to express themselves in an arts-based therapeutic environment.