So it has the utmost admiration for anyone in the industry who can not only talk a good game when it comes to art, but is also willing to put its money where its mouth is. Enter The Abraaj Group, which in September announced the launch of a new scholarship programme that will give budding creative types from around the world the opportunity to come and study at the Royal College of Art in London.
The Abraaj RCA Innovation Scholarship Programme (to give it its full title) will allow “five outstanding individuals from across Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, Turkey and Central Asia” to “pursue [their] creative aspirations at the RCA”. What that means in practice is that they get to do a two-year Master of Arts course, with both tuition fees and living expenses thrown in. And the first five scholars have already been chosen: they come from India, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Thailand and Turkey respectively.
Now some of you may wonder why on earth a private equity group that specialises in growth markets is funding arts scholarships in London. Well, according to group Arif Naqvi, it’s all part of Abraaj’s commitment “to empowering talent and entrepreneurship to stimulate job creation in the markets in which we invest”. And believe it or not, 67 percent of RCA graduates apparently go on to start their own art or design business. Never let it be said that (more than a third of) arts students are feckless wasters.
Apparently, part of the deal is that the scholars have to be willing to go back to their home country after their course and put their new skills to good use for the cultural benefit of their local community. Which is all well and good – but who’s going to explain modernism to First Round then?