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Student group Enactus mentors developing artists

02 Apr 2014

Art exhibitionIt is a proud moment for an artist when their work is displayed for the first time. It is a moment when all of the painstaking effort is overwhelmed by a sense of achievement. It is a moment when a dream suddenly comes true.

Indeed, for a group of five Sydney artists with disabilities that had once threatened to exclude them from the art world entirely, that moment must have been a whirlpool of emotions.

Works by the five artists are on display in cafes in the Sydney suburb of Glebe and at the Verge Gallery at the University of Sydney as part of the Sight Project run by the student led group Enactus University of Sydney.

Enactus is an international non-profit organisation that brings together student, academic and business leaders with the intention of improving the quality of life and standard of living for people in need.

"This project supports and showcases the work of artists with a disability, by providing mentorship and commercial exposure in the fine arts" said Enactus' Chief Operating Officer at the University of Sydney Business School, James Meade.

"The Sight Project offers participants access to resources, public exposure and will generate revenue to ensure sustainability into the future," he said.

The organisation says that its projects "not only transforms lives, but also helps students develop the kind of talent and perspective essential to leadership in an ever-more complicated and challenging world".

According to Enactus, the aim of the Sight Project is to "recognise the creative skills of people with physical or cognitive disabilities through providing education and commercial opportunities in the domain of visual arts".

Chair of the Enactus Advisory Board, the Business School's Professor Andrew Terry, said he was excited by the Sight Project.

"Although it is only one of so many very worthwhile projects undertaken each year by Enactus groups at Australian and overseas universities, this project is particularly significant," said Professor Terry. " It not only provides public exposure for the wonderful artwork of disabled artists, but also to the very valuable, but usually unheralded work of Enactus."

For the participants, the Sight Project began last year with a series of workshops supported by the University of Sydney Union, the University's Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning and Sydney College of the Arts.

Some of the 33 artworks produced were rented to cafes in December and will be moved to the University's Verge Gallery for an exhibition to be opened by the Governor of New South Wales, Marie Bashir.

The artworks will be auctioned on Friday 4 April.

"Ultimately, we expect this to become a social business for the participants which is sustainable and empowering through an ongoing revenue stream," James said.

Enactus will run another Sight Project in the second half of 2014.