Interview with Catherine Mathys
“The great thing about our foundation is that from day one we truly had an impact on the lives of these amazing children.”
Catherine Mathys, founder of The Art of Giving Foundation
The Art of Giving Foundation is the brainchild of Catherine Mathys. The foundation sponsors organisations that support the educational path of underprivileged children in Belgium through the sale of works of art by Belgian artists.
A noble cause
‘This way we achieve a double goal: we allow young artists to show their work through a broad platform, and we free up money for children who truly need a helping hand. In our first year, we were able to raise 45,000 euros this way.’
The goal of The Art of Giving Foundation is very clearly defined: helping young people from disadvantaged families with learning difficulties. How do you reach that target group?
‘Learning difficulties are difficult obstacles for everyone. Dyslexia, dyscalculia, ADHD,… all children who have to deal with these ‘disorders’ have a hard time and need to be surrounded by good care. I am an experienced expert and know very well how complex these problems can be. Unfortunately, the much-needed good care is not always easy to find.’
‘When we suspected our daughter had some learning difficulties, the road to a diagnosis and appropriate support turned out to be far from obvious. Even when you’re part of a family with a broad network and sufficient financial resources. That made me think about underprivileged people and the extra hurdle they have to overcome just to take the first steps towards care. They often don’t know where to turn and have no means to pay for tests and counselling.’
‘Moreover, I noticed that underprivileged children, in general, need extra support (from primary school to graduation) that they cannot get at home because of the complexity of poverty. That’s what I wanted to dedicate myself to and that’s how we started the foundation.’
‘As a foundation, you need to find a source of income, and preferably one that doesn’t dry up too quickly. I am an art lover myself and know the market well enough to know that there are opportunities. Art collectors or enthusiasts are certainly prepared to pay a good price for valuable work, especially if the proceeds go to a good cause. It comes down to finding good artists, and that is something I can fully indulge in. I love approaching talented artists for our foundation.’
“The artists are paid by us for their expenses, but leave the profits from their works for the benefit of the foundation.”
The first year you managed to raise 45.000 euros. How was this amount put to use?
‘We chose to give two-thirds of the proceeds directly to two organisations. The first is Kras, an Antwerp youth work organisation that focuses explicitly on disadvantaged young people. Our financial injection is helping them to train ten people who will be deployed in homework classes held at five locations in the city. These homework classes are crucial to the school career of many children.’
‘We also work with Teach for Belgium, the Belgian branch of an international organisation that trains and coaches talented young people to work as inspiring teachers in schools with children from disadvantaged socio-economic groups. With our funds, their summer schools are strengthened so that more young people can be trained there.’
How do you see the future?
‘It is very important to make a structural difference. That’s why the foundation always commits to an organisation for three years straight. This way we can work long-term and make slightly larger and more structural interventions possible. We also expect something in return from the organisations. We want to know exactly where the money went and how we were able to contribute. This way we know for sure that we’re having a real impact.’
‘We’ve only just started, of course, and it is impossible to predict where the future will take us. But the beauty of our work is that from day one we’ve had a real impact on the lives of these children. That’s worth a lot.’