Sci & Tech

Supporting Arts, One Click at a Time

Auto & Tech Desk
Supporting Arts,  One Click at a Time
Supporting Arts,  One Click at a Time

Not long ago in May, Tehran's consumer-driven market was temporarily shell shocked when all advertising posters vanished overnight.

The capital's billboards were stripped of all hoopla surrounding sunny shampoos to fancy watches, and tempting bank offers to the latest contraptions. Instead they featured major works of art, turning T ehran into a giant gallery for 10 days.

Coming as a fresh breath of air, timeless works by world-renowned artists Paul Cezanne, Hokusai and Pablo Picasso, along with works by esteemed Iranian artists, adorned the city.

The project, which was a joint effort of Tehran Municipality and Tehran’s Museum of Modern Arts, turned out to be a huge success. It received widespread international coverage; The Guardian, The New York Times and Huffington Post all covered the refreshing development.

Tapping in on the zeitgeist, Iran's largest private Internet service provider also recently launched an innovative project to support young Iranian artists.

One does not have to be a billionaire or the city municipality to show support; all it takes is a click on the new campaign by local Internet provider Pars Online.

The company's public relations push includes dozens of paintings and other works of mixed media.

On the company's website is a selection of 70 paintings created by emerging Iranian artists in several genres incorporating diverse subjects and techniques. By clicking on the paintings, users can vote for their favorite pieces, pitting each artist against others.

  Social Mission

"Supporting the arts is now part of Pars Online's corporate social responsibility program," Amir Pilehvar, the company's advertisement manager told Financial Tribune.

"Given the extensive success of the art project launched by the municipality, we started thinking up a unique art-centered project of our own with the help of Navand Advertising Agency."

One of the company's owners, Reza Fateh, is an avid art collector and many art pieces hang on the walls of Pars Online’s offices.

According to Pilehvar, this has changed the working environment for the better as they help lift "the employees' morale".

“We believe our campaign can bring the same positive impact on the spirit of the society,” he explained.

  How It Started

Late in July, after having consulted several gallery owners and artists, Pars Online first released a submission notification via social media, put up posters at art universities and printed ads in major art magazines.

Artists under 35 were given two weeks to submit three paintings during which time over 800 enthusiasts sent in their works. Once the deadline was over, the jurors began selecting 70 of the 2,500 submissions.

Saeed Ravanbakhsh, managing director at Charsoo Honar Cultural, Artistic and Publishing Center, Ali Zakeri, member of Iran's Painters' Association, Behnam Kamrani and Jamal Arabzadeh university professors at Art University were among the members of the board of jurors.  

Public voting began August 1 and will continue until August 21.

  The Winners

Once the results are out, works that garner the most public votes, as well as a few selected by the jurors, will be showcased on billboards across the city.      

Up to five artists selected by the judges will receive a fellowship. They will be provided with a studio to work at, the equipment and material needed as well as mentorship.

What’s more, two artists will be sent on an educational trip to Italy. One will be named by the judges and the other will be determined by the public vote.

Unlike most sectors, Iran's thriving art scene was not significantly affected by the crippling western-imposed sanctions. Last year, Tehran Art Auction raised $5.1 million from the auction of works by Iranian artists, while the Christie's-style auction fetched $6.4 million earlier this year.

Budding Iranian talents have caught the eye of the government and Iranian companies, and support for these artists is expected to increase.

Corporate social responsibility is beginning to play a far larger role in major local corporations. The sector is relatively new in the context of local companies, but brands like Samsung have endeavored to promote themselves in the wider context by creating events like the audio library project for visually-impaired children across the country.

Users can vote for their favorite works via