Art Attaché is an exciting new global arts platform established by Ravi Shah in 2020. Their self-professed ambition is to “create a level playing field for accessibility, study and consumption of art at a global level.” Combining educational courses, fascinating articles, an active social media and forums for open discussion, Art Attaché is the perfect place to explore arts culture in 2020. Editor-in-Chief Rose McKean caught with Ravi to find out more about the project.
RM: First of all, thank you so much for joining us. Can you tell us how the idea to establish Art Attaché came about?
RS: I’d like to start by saying thank you for speaking with me! I have always had a profound interest in art for as long as I can remember, and over the last few years that interest has developed into a purpose as to how I can make a significant contribution to an area I love so much. My interest in Inuit Art and passion within post-colonial art historical theory and social change led me to create Art Attaché. I decided to develop this project because I felt that the Art industry is in a dire need of change and innovation. During my studies I began to realise the elitist, closed shop nature of the industry with its associated perceived or actual barriers to even have a foot through the door. My experience at university inspired within me a concept for innovation, but the events of 2020 showed me the potential and true purpose of Art Attaché. Against the backdrop of Covid-19 and the BLM movement, I saw a need to create a universal platform for a global interaction in art but more importantly, a platform that promotes diversity, inclusivity and wide access to the art market.
U: Your website facilitates a wonderfully democratic exchange of knowledge and ideas through its online arts courses. Why was it important to you to facilitate these free and remotely accessible forms of education?
RS: I strongly believe that invoking systemic change starts with education, and this can only be accomplished through addressing the problem with accessibility. Art Attaché presents an elegant solution to the question of accessibility. We believe that all knowledge, ideas, perspectives and narratives should be heard, therefore it is so important that we maintain a platform that is free to use and easily accessible online. Accessibility starts with how we learn about art, and integrated with the social features of the site, it is a natural solution to the question of accessibility.
U: I really admire your efforts to create a virtual community around your website. How important is it to encourage interaction and collaboration within the arts community, particularly during the ongoing pandemic?
RS: Experiencing and engaging with the arts community is always better in person, however now more than ever, digital is becoming so fundamental to the arts. Social media has already created a whole new market for artists and new ways to interact with art. Now more than ever, the need for a dedicated virtual space speaks for itself. Especially during an ongoing pandemic, when physical access is limited and more people are at home due to social distancing, there should be a place where people can still communicate, collaborate and work with art seamlessly online. Art Attaché is built as a social network first, with Zoom integrations so the arts community can continue those conversations that were originally started in person, and tap into a wider global audience.
U: A particularly exciting element of Art Attaché is its focus on creating a global arts community. As you eloquently express on your website: “Now more than ever, there is a need for a universal platform that decentralises the Western dominance of art and caters for a truly diverse and global audience.” How can readers engage with Art Attache to decolonise their own arts education and perspectives?
RS: Art Attaché is built as a level playing field for all. Whilst we want to tackle issues of accessibility, we feel it would be a lost opportunity to not address this as a global problem. We wanted to present a solution to accessibility through promoting diversity and inclusivity. On our site readers can explore a breadth of art and art historical content that spans the globe, embracing perspectives and narratives. To tackle the problem of a heavily western narrative, we are working on projects that broaden and diversify the education of art history to encompass so many cultures and styles. In the next few weeks and months you are going to see an array of projects come to light allowing our readers to explore art histories that were completely inaccessible in traditional education in western countries.
U: Your Forums encourage members to engage in open discourse on a range of subjects around the arts. Why did you decide to make open discussion a central component of Art Attaché?
RS: Open discussion is absolutely central to Art Attaché. Whilst other social media channels may do well to help artists market their work and allow for enthusiasts to explore, they do not give the flexibility a dedicated site would to cater for all their needs and critically, do very little to allow for discussion and debate. We are trying to address the Art industry’s lack of innovation in social learning and social interaction, and the first step in creating change is allowing and encouraging open discussions. We have carefully chosen a forum-based system as it is an engaging and effective way of critical communication.
U: Art Attaché has the potential to become a wonderfully accessible tool to empower people to explore the arts, regardless of socioeconomic status or experience. How important is it to reflect this openness in the work and artists that are featured?
RS: This platform, as you wonderfully said, is for everyone, no matter their experience or socio-economic status. We not only want to provide a space for people to learn and diversify their knowledge, we actively want artists to engage with this idea of social learning. By introducing themselves and their work on our platform, they get a chance to interact with a dedicated and critical audience, and more importantly contribute to this database of arts knowledge by bringing their own narratives and perspectives. Art Attaché is built by the community, for the community, therefore openness and accessibility is central to our ethos.
U: Finally, what are your ambitions for the future of Art Attaché ?
RS: I want to see Art Attaché advance the cause of art as a universal visual language, a digital database of perspectives, ideas and narratives, where participants from all parts of the world can come together to have open discussions about art. My greatest desire is to offer people that traditionally would not have had an opportunity to learn about various art topics and most importantly provide them with an enriching space to interact with the global art community. The next few months are looking exciting for Art Attaché. With a wonderful team in place now, we are going to be able to achieve our goals at a global level having a presence in the UK, Canada and Europe. Our goal for this year is to build our community by integrating with various university and high school Arts departments. We will continue to provide critical and engaging content, courses and articles and we look forward to seeing all the user creations.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, we can’t wait to see how Art Attaché develops!
You can explore Art Attaché through their intuitive new website here.
Stay up-to-date on their Instagram @art_attache and on Facebook @artattache2020.