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Art that moves & inspires, given a new life by HeART Beat Foundation

Meet VS and Jayashree Ramana. They are the couple behind HeART Beat Foundation. Launched in 2014, the organisation is dedicated to empowering disabled artists. It has supported 10 artists so far, helping them sell their work and reach a wider audience.

HeART Beat Foundation has held art exhibitions in many cities, including a recent one at the Stella Maris College in Chennai where the auditorium was converted into one big art gallery.

The idea of starting such a venture, came to Ramana's mind in 2011 while he was employed with Larsen & Tourbo in Chennai. As part of the company's CSR activities, exhibitions of artists with disabilities were held. Such occasions gave him an insight into their struggles.

I was attending an event in Delhi when I saw a young boy on a wheelchair. He had come from Haryana to exhibit his work but nothing got sold due to lack of marketing. I realised then that disabled artists struggle to make ends meet for lack of a platform. I decided I must do something about this and consulted with my family who was 100% supportive of starting HeART Beat Foundation. - VS Ramana, Co-founder, HeART Beat Foundation

He quit his job and decided to dedicate himself to this full-time. They are clear that the artists must be appreciated for their work and not from a sense of charity.

"Over the years, I have realised that disabled artists have been sidelined and ignored. We all tend to constantly judge people with disabilities. Most of the times, their capabilities are not projected or leveraged properly. They have a lot of capacities than what we can even think about. At our exhibitions, paintings speak volumes about the artist, says Ramana.

Ramana and Jayashree have many plans, the main priority being to start a space exclusively for their artists. They also plan to train more disabled artists and encourage them to experiment with their skills. In due course of time, HeART Beat also wants to tie up with NGOs and homes for disabled people to bring out budding talents.

"Art is a therapy. We plan to venture into this. There are many companies that do CSR activities but do not put any money into the disability sector. We want to draw their attention. The common man does not know how to interact with a disabled person. We want to sensitise them on that as well, adds Ramana.

Jayashree, who has worked with the Spastics Society in Delhi and other NGOs that work for people with disabilities and hopes to be able to empower more people from the community.

"As a spouse, I was glad that my husband came forward with this idea. Even I felt that it was time for us to give back something to the society. I have always been an art appreciator and my husband comes from a family of artists. Until now, it has been a great journey and we hope to empower more artists with disabilities, she says.

ALSO READ: Outsider Art at the Kochi Muziris Biennale opens doors to people with autism

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