Street kids inspire art to fund youth programs

TORONTO Tue Oct 5, 2010 8:51am EDT

1 of 3. One of the original prints up for auction at the 2010 Drawn to Develop gala is pictured in this handout photo. Profits from the sale will go to Street Kids International - a non-profit agency based in Toronto and London that provides financial literacy programs, advocacy and health education.

Credit: Reuters/Raphael Mazzucco/Handout

TORONTO (Reuters Life!) - Thirty-six photographs from a unique collaboration between award-winning photographers and young street survivors will be sold at auction this month to help fund educational programs for youth workers.

The third annual Drawn to Develop auction in Toronto on October 14 will feature original prints and mixed-media images.

Profits from the sale will go to Street Kids International - a nonprofit agency based in Toronto and London that provides financial literacy programmes, advocacy and health education.

The sale includes original works by Yuri Dojc, one of Canada's most celebrated photographers, Raphael Mazzucco, Walter Chin and others.

"We're working up to getting the right audience in the room in order for the bidding price for the prints to be even close to their value," said Jo Cutajar, co-creator and executive director of Drawn to Develop.

Organizers hope to double the amount from last year when the auction raised nearly $35,000.

"Bidding wars are always expected," said Teiji Ishi, the photographer who produced the highest-selling print for two consecutive years.

CREATIVE COLLABOATION

Drawn to Develop invites professional photographers and photojournalists to create one original image inspired by the hand-made drawings by young people who have worked with Street Kids International in Bolivia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Nepal.

"We get a picture, drawn by a youth from somewhere around the world and it comes with a quote about where they're from, a little bit about their story and why they drew the picture. That's pretty much all we get," Ishi explained.

There are no restrictions on how the drawings are interpreted by the photographers, who pay for production costs, including set design, staging, staffing and image processing. Despite the high price tag, Drawn to Develop gets an enthusiastic response from photographers in Canada and abroad.

"It hits you pretty deep and it's not something that you can just ignore. Usually it takes getting the actual drawing for the photographers to be really engaged. We have so many photographers who have emailed me saying, "Can I come on board for next year?' but we're capped out," he said.

Proceeds from the auction are earmarked for innovative projects.

"Street Kids' approach is not a personal aid approach where each kid is given $5 or something of that nature," Cutajar said. "Instead, they create programmes to educate youth workers around the world so that those youth workers are better equipped to teach the kids that they're working with."

Training programs focus on entrepreneurship, savings strategies and identifying sources of capital. Last summer the program started in mineral-rich Sierra Leone where it explored alternative ways for youth miners to generate income.

"We train the trainer," said Aruna Aysola, director of fund development and communications at Street Kids International, which has helped more than 2 million children in about 60 countries since 1988.

"What makes our programs unique is they are almost like mini MBA's," Aysola added.

(Editing by Patricia Reaney)

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