06/06/2012: Mind the gap! 2009-2011 What happened?
Last year, on this blog I announced our comeback with Art Buffet as a Community Interest Company.
I introduced Tony as new CEO and apologized for the long gap since Art-Switch closed in 2009! Now before continuing, it is important for transparency to explain why there was a gap and what happened in that gap. This is about my core motivations as founder and my journey.
I used to work as a doctor in healthcare. My intuition and emotional intelligence were switched on and told me that healing happens more effectively when a sick person feels positive and feels loved. I emphasise feel. It is positive energy. I sensed that positive healing energy of a person is powerfully boosted if health care includes:
Caring to allow loving relatives enough time and space to give love
Caring to ensure dignity or modesty when they are naked
Caring without allowing egoistic professionalism to block loving body language and smiles
Caring to let sick people shape their environment in a personalised way (favourite teddy or art etc.)
All this warms and stimulates healing energy.
I also sensed that certain things can often diminish positive healing energy such as:
Focusing a subconscious mind on non-healing; legal consent forms emphasise what can go wrong.
Suggesting in subconscious mind that a patient is less important - as carers hurry to see others.
I saw that hard logical objective science can be a helpful tool but I also saw that this tool was being given too much importance. This is a mistake because objectivity cannot yet properly measure positive healing energy and actions that boost it.
As a doctor, I felt the big system encouraged and rewarded me for practicing with logical objective hard science but not for practicing with emotional intelligence, intuitive sensitivity or those un-measurable values which boost positive healing energy. Often, the system even got in the way of my caring love. I left medicine and entered corporate world. Here too I found the same culture with all decision-making dominated by hard logical objectivity and numbers. Non-measurable values are ignored.
I am not against using logic or rational objectivity as a tool but its dominance in decision-making is rampant and is crushing all non-measurable values in society. I realised there is a dire need to create a movement to push back, re-awaken and re-invigourate our emotional intelligence (EQ), which is being switched off and dumbed down by the system which favours left brain logical thinking (IQ). This was the subject of my MBA thesis in 2004.
In 2002, I conceived of a business service to kick-start that movement by enabling people to switch on and practice using their emotional intelligence by looking at lots of art from an art library. In 2005, I launched the service and called it Art-Switch.
Art-Switch was a social enterprise but back then the regulator of registered companies did not have a category for registering a social enterprise. Their logical IQ dominated thinking had never considered such a thing, so it was registered as a limited company.
However, in addition to providing EQ practice, the business model offered much more. Some of you were there when I founded Art-Switch and will remember what we used to say.
Explore your tastes for £1 per day to borrow and keep switching artworks.
Enjoy the convenience of a revolving gallery coming to your premises. Have an art fair in your office!
Allow your valued staff to shape the look and feel of the workspace with our democratic voting system.
Buy art when you are ready with transparent prices based on popularity.
For artists we said:
Earn borrow fees before you sell, get a whopping 75% on sale and royalties on re-sale
Art enjoyers with growing visual literacy to understand your work
Art-Switch was a level playing field providing a winning solution for all - Democracy for art.
All these statements were true but did not get to the bottom of the truth. The bottom of the truth was a mission to kick-start a movement to enable people to switch on and practice using their emotional intelligence while also building a better art market place with superior terms of trade for artists and transparency for buyers.
I had been coy about saying it like that but the original Art-Switch financial investors knew it and assured me they respected the social agenda, which I had written into the business plan and shareholder agreement for them to sign up to. They did.
Unfortunately, after the financial crisis struck things became very sticky in 2009. The major investors were not prepared to back the project anymore unless they got overall control of Art-Switch. Meanwhile, because Art-Switch was a limited company, I had to be the internal governance policeman for our social mission and I was assessing whether I could trust the investors to stay true to the social mission if they had control. My switched on intuition suspected not. My suspicion was confirmed when I inadvertently saw some emails that had passed between the biggest investors revealing that they dont value the social side of what we were doing. It was clear to me that the social mission was in bed with investors who were not prepared to stand by with me to see it through thick and thin. The shareholder agreement was being violated, I felt cheated and money was tight in a financial crisis. It was a supremely tough time. But, there was no way I was giving up. I had to walk away from their money and get the mission out of that bed. I had to allow Art-Switch to close and then wait.
This was painful but also tough to explain as people thought the enterprise had failed whilst the mission was burning like fire in my heart. How do you measure the value and power of that fire to stick out tough times to build a mission, an enterprise, a service for society? You need your emotional intelligence switched on to detect stuff like that. That fire in my heart, that positive energy is a good example of what objective logical methods cannot measure and why we must fight to re-awaken emotional intelligence in our culture.
This is why we keep our price so affordable at £1 per day to minimize barriers and encourage people to practice their emotional intelligence (EQ) by looking at lots of art and to switch and look at more art, rather than push them into a hasty purchase.
Anyway, enough history.
Now the folly of logical rational decisions driven by number culture is all around us with this unnecessary crisis. The mission to rebalance EQ alongside IQ is more important than ever. Today, it is re-born as Art Buffet, a registered Community Interest Company with an improved mission statement:
ArtBuffet provides a democratic platform enabling art to re-awaken societys emotional intelligence (EQ) to re-balance unhealthy dominance of logical thinking (IQ); Art enjoyers practice EQ, building visual literacy in an art playground with transparent prices driven by popularity...while artists enjoy equal access, superior percentages, royalties and exposure with artwork understood!
Why a buffet? Because it is a smorgasbord of art providing an emotional intelligence workout where people can try new flavours of art, challenge and grow their tastes, and in so doing, practice using their emotional intelligence and building visual literacy.
Follow this blog and you will enjoy invitations to fun events and shows and an online journey of stimulating debate, animations, games, quizzes and self tests. Get involved and do your bit to promote the agenda to boost EQ , make a world where decisions are not dominated by left brain logic and build a fairer art market with a more democratic way of establishing artwork pricing.