Room 13 International (www.room13international.com) is TBWA’s long-supported CSR initiative, which represents a growing network of student-run arts studios in schools and community settings worldwide. The story of Room 13 began in 1994, when a group of students established their own art studio in Room 13, Caol Primary School near Fort William, Scotland. They ran the studio as a business, raising funds to buy art materials and employ a professional Artist in Residence to work with them. Slowly and organically, Room 13 has gone on to establish a network of creative studios and a thriving community of young artists and entrepreneurial thinkers that stretches around the globe.
TBWA\Greater China has supported Room13 locally since 2008. More than 100 local children and all TBWA\Shanghai staffs are involved in Room 13. New projects are launched quarterly to fund money, connecting the children and staffs, and generating more creativity and sparks.
In October 2016, a team of volunteers from across the TBWA collective participated in SIYEZA (meaning “we are coming” in isiZulu)—a five-day photo-adventure across South Africa. TBWA teams, led by Emmanuel Andre, President, International at TBWA Worldwide, visited five different Room 13 studios to teach photography skills to Room 13 students and raise crucial funds for the studios in South Africa. In addition to his “day job,” Andre is an accomplished photographer whose portraits have been published and featured in galleries around the world.
The Room 13 exhibition included photographs featuring the young people of South African townships who participated in SIYEZA. The sessions aimed to unlock the talents of young people by giving them a rare opportunity to learn photography skills and explore their own creative intuitions.