Between the Lines

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Between the Lines
Charmaine: Desert Dreaming Series (cropped)

Melbourne-based social enterprise Open Canvas supports work by homeless and disadvantaged artists

“When you buy art from Open Canvas, you are making a positive impact on the lives of these artists.” 

This is Dan Rath: a Melbourne-based social entrepreneur. Through Open Canvas, he aims to give artists who have experienced homelessness, disability and other forms of adversity a platform through which to exhibit and sell their work. Next month, he’ll be launching the organisation’s first exhibition, Between the Lines at fortyfivedownstairs.  

Rath tells Time Out that the idea first came to him when he encountered a homeless artist, who was creating work on the street. “He was making fantastic art, but opportunities to sell his art were difficult to his financial circumstances,” he says. 

Open Canvas is not a charity; rather, it’s a project that empowers artists to earn an income. Seventy per cent of profits go back to the individual artists, with some of their art also printed on merchandise like mobile phone covers, tea towels and greeting cards. Many of these artists have found their way into Open Canvas through art therapy programs in community housing projects, as well as other organisations like Mind Australia and Vinnies. 

You’ve probably heard that Melbourne’s homelessness problem is getting worse. And when it comes to wanting to help out, it can be hard to know where to start. Right now, you can contribute to Open Canvas’ exhibition through their crowdfunding page – or head to Open Canvas and have a look at the art on offer.

By: Rose Johnstone

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