The interview with ”The Skateroom”
How did the idea of The Skateroom come up?
It all started with an art gallery owned by Charles-Antoine Bodson in Brussels. Charles had a collection of around 4,000 skateboard decks and at some point he met Oliver Percovich — the founder of the award winning NGO Skateistan. Oliver told Charles about his project of empowering youth through skateboarding and education in Afghanistan. At that time, Skateistan was looking for funding to build its second skatepark – its first in Cambodia. Charles decided to sell a part of this collection in order to help Skateistan. He donated around $50,000 to the NGO helping them build the skatepark in Phnom Penh.
A few months later, Charles had the opportunity to attend the inauguration and to see the results. The way Skateistan was interacting with these children was just amazing. It all just came together and hit him hard. Charles realised that this is what he wanted to do! When Charles returned from his trip, he started The Skateroom.
· Which artists has The Skateroom collaborated with?
The Skateroom has collaborated with numerous artists over the years. From collaborations with art estates and foundations of iconic artists such as Warhol, Haring, Basquiat, Van Gogh, Magritte… to established and niche contemporary artists such as Ai WeiWei, Paul McCarthy, Jenny Holzer, Judy Chicago, JR… The Skateroom aims to collaborate with artists who understand our business model and also embrace our mission of Art For Social Impact. The full list of artists can be easily found on www.theskateroom.com.
· You have collaborated with numerous art institutions and galleries in the world, can you name a few?
The Skateroom is privileged to have collaborated with some incredible partners from all over the world. Of course, our story started very much with the support
of the MoMA and has since included other institutions such as The Louvre, The Whitney, Guggenheim, Tate, MCA Chicago, among many others. At the same time, we have been lucky to work with such an incredibly diverse range of galleries such as Hauser & Wirth or Baronian Xippas. The important thing is that each and every partner The Skateroom has been working with understands and respects our business model. Through the sales, each of these collaborations contributes to our mission and supports the fundraising for our NGO partners. These partnerships also raise awareness on the social skate projects we support and their role in empowering communities through skateboarding and education.
It is for this reason that we really appreciate the partnership with Zoumboulakis Galleries here in Greece. We love working with people who share our values and beliefs. This is truly the case with you guys!
· What are the projects you are most proud of?
That is a difficult one! We are proud of each artistic collaboration we take on and each is unique in its own way. The impact of our project is what gives meaning to everything we do and brings it full circle. Roger Ballen, one example of many, really got that and was fully committed to the social aspect of our collaboration. A few months ago, he even returned to South Africa to give Skateistan students a photography workshop. What more could you possibly ask for?
In another spirit, we are also very proud of our recent integration within the B Corp movement. This was a very big thing for The Skateroom as it was a naturel next step to our model. This year we will make sure we can keep on improving our scores on the 5 pillars that B Corp movement is focusing on: our governance, our workforce, our community, our consumers and our environmental footprint.
· What are the basic criteria under which you choose the organizations you support?
As mentioned here above, it all started with Skateistan in Afghanistan and Cambodia. Later, The Skateroom started to support the organization as a whole – including their installation in South Africa through a collaboration with Paul McCarthy back in 2015. Then – gradually – The Skateroom got the attention of other NGOs such as Concrete Jungle Foundation, Free Movement Skateboarding (amazing organization supporting refugees based here in Greece), Make Life Skate
Life, Cuba Skate… we decided to support their activities on the field in a more organic way.
Since early this year, we actually slightly changed our model of funding and are now supporting organizations based on a grant system. We found it more transparent and sustainable to start supporting them this way.
· Who is behind the projects? Introduce the team!
The Skateroom has a pretty diverse team consisting in different departments: the Artistic department, led by the Founder, Charles-Antoine Bodson and Antoine; the Production department led by Jean-Yves; the Sales and Distribution team with Bart, Julie and Danh; the Communication team with Nabil and Andréa; the Social Impact department with Clara and Aurélie; the Finance department led by Martin. Our operations are all led by our CEO Nicolas Fautré who has enabled The Skateroom to become the viable and sustainable company it is today together with Charles-Antoine. The team is pretty young and we are all sharing the passion of what we are doing!
· How are you guys handling the total lockdown in Brussels, how has this affected your projects and production?
As many other companies and businesses, The Skateroom is also impacted by this global lockdown. The measures in Belgium are somehow less restrictive than in other countries but all our team is in “smart working” since mid of March now. Luckily enough, our productions and distributions are still functioning without any problems. The aspects which are most affected are our upcoming launches which have been delayed due to the events. Instead, we are now working hard on digital releases that will occur in the coming weeks/months. So stay tuned!
· What are your latest news?
Some very exciting new releases are coming up. While we won’t give any spoilers, we know many contemporary art fans out there are going to love it. So definitely make sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our newsletter so you don’t miss it!
– What do you have to say to our recipients and the community in Greece to motivate them and spark their interest in new editions during those unprecedented times?
We recently launched a campaign with a very simple message: Leave no one behind! As you know, our NGO partners work in communities that are vulnerable and when something like this happens, they are often the first ones to be affected and overlooked. As a global community, it is our responsibility to take care of each other.
Art is often this medium that provides comfort and inspiration. In times like these, art is still capable of making a difference. We know everyone is affected by what’s happening.
Because we still want people to enjoy art from the comfort and safety of their homes, and because what happens tomorrow matters. Tomorrow starts with what we do today. It’s a matter of community, and we need your help to keep “Art for Social Impact” going for the benefit of all.
A last word would be to you and your community: Τhank you for your support in our work and keep on making an impact with us through art!