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On July 1, the Australian not-for-profit organisation YGAP held the opening of their inaugural Art for Change exhibition at JCP Studios which they call, “a gallery experience that will change the world.”

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The event celebrated local artists, both established and emerging, who each donated artworks to be auctioned on the night. The exhibition displayed the creative prowess of many award-winning Melbourne-based artists and photographers, as well as renowned painter David Bromley, and jeweller Ele Misko.

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All the money raised from the exhibition goes straight to YGAP’s 5Cent “change for change” campaign. This project draws attention to the power of the five-cent coin and loose change, which would normally end up between the couch cushions or on the floor of your car. In Australia there are currently over 100 million five-cent coins in circulation, and just 115 of those pesky coins can change a life. That’s just a handful of coins to give someone access to education, health care, a good home or a good job.

In 2012 YGAP began asking Australians to start collecting their coins to change the lives of people disadvantaged by poverty. In its first three years, 5Cent collected 7.9 million five-cent coins – that’s $396,660.

The exhibition focussed on Australian and African cultures, with artwork ranging from iconic Australian Bromley paintings to photography collections displaying vignettes of life in Papua New Guinea.

While most pieces were sold at silent auction, a handful were auctioned live, and one of the most successful belonged to Melbourne-based artist, Aidan Weichard. His vibrant and animated painting of a gorgeous Aussie cow named Alfred had a starting price of $400, yet sold for a whopping $3000.

Aidan Weichard and Alfred

Aidan Weichard and Alfred

YGAP’s fundamental aim, according to CEO Elliot Costello, is to find “local solutions for local people,” and this was highlighted in the exhibition. Even buying local art and supporting your locals can help impact the lives of people in need. 

YGAP runs social enterprises and fundraising campaigns in Australia which help support impact entrepreneurs in Australia, Kenya and South Africa who have launched ventures that are improving the lives of people in poverty. They strive to empower communities to become self-sustainable.

Basically this means that rather than sending a group of Melburnians out to a poverty-stricken country such as Kenya to, for example, help build a school, YGAP finds and funds Kenyan locals (or, social impact entrepreneurs) who want to help their own community in ways that the community needs most. It’s about the bigger picture.

YGAP has changed the way people can get involved in supporting a charity, with the aim of “changing the tide of philanthropy,” says Costello.

Costello said his team had to “wiki how to host an art exhibition” as they all began this endeavour without a clue. Yet it’s very safe to say that they now have no need to worry, the event was a hit, not only for those who attended, but more so for those who will benefit from all the funds raised.

If you’d like to contribute to this organisation and instigator if change, you can donate here.

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