Changemaking to promote livelihoods in the arts & culture industry

Suhani was elected an Ashoka Young Changemaker from India in May 2022. This story was written through a consultative process during their selection to our global community.

After scoring good grades on her 10th board, Suhani was excited about exploring the many interesting paths laid out in front of her. However, her excitement was dampened by the orthodox opinions surrounding her, nudging her to the safety and financial viability of a career in science. This is the case with most of the children in her position.

“When in school, we are told to be unique, creative, and think out of the box. But as soon as we leave school, society, elders, make us believe that only a few careers lead to a good future. Only a few safe paths are the ultimate road to success”, she said. Convinced that a compartmentalized education system and a blinkered approach toward the art and creative industry have led to a dearth of opportunities in the field, Suhani decided to do something about it.

She created Sangam- a platform for local artisans, artists, entrepreneurs, and creative minds. She described it as “A potential job opportunity for those with a Passion for Innovation. A place with a plethora of ideas, ingenuity, and ardour”. Sangam started off as an Instagram page with a team of 8. It started off by organizing offline events- theme-based and experience-based, to build a community of artisans and entrepreneurs. A team of 40 now, they are working to “create opportunities in the fields of design, poetry, performing, and fine arts for the youth. We are trying to set up an entire creative industry.” Their events serve as a platform for local artists, entrepreneurs to showcase their skills, work on collaborations and expand their business. They’ve grown to a base of over 4000 member artists in their nationwide community.

Over the next few years, Suhani hopes to grow Sangam exponentially. “People exchanging their creative ideas, being a part of our ventures and showcasing their talent, helping peers around find their potential, monetizing art, and giving the local and rural artisans a platform, are some of the parameters in which we want to create an impact”, she said. Through her initiative, she also wants to see people make choices based on their passion.

“Facilitating conversations, making my peers realize the power of change they carry, and encouraging ideas, are the specific steps I'd like to take towards helping my peers tackle the problems they care about”, she said. Reflecting on what could be done to encourage young people from across the country to get motivated on their change-making journeys, she shared some interesting insights, “So many individuals have unique ideas, concepts they are willing to implement, but their scepticism is an obstacle that makes them think they cannot do it. Pertaining to such situations, an 'Ideapool' is a concept that may help unexpressed ideas to come forward. Having a campaign throughout the country, where any individual from any background, irrespective of their age can drop in an idea they want to work on. With student leaders and resources, we can bring certain ideas to life. Additionally, the thought that your idea is coming to life, that is in itself an empowering experience.”

This story was written by Prachi Vats.