Article by RBSA Volunteer Alfie Hancox

The RBSA Charity Auction hosted by Deutsche Bank is one of the most exciting recent additions to the Birmingham art calendar.

This year’s event will raise funds for both the RBSA and one of Deutsche Bank’s UK Charities of the Year, Cure Leukaemia.

The auction takes place on November 20 and Head of Deutsche Bank, Birmingham, Paul Anderson shared his thoughts on art and the role of Deutsche Bank in supporting the arts.

What makes art valuable for workplace environment?

“All the evidence points to people being most productive when they’re happy. There’s no single thing that’s going to make people happy, but art is part of a whole ensemble of things to make the workplace somewhere people want to go and want to think creatively.”

Is it right that you got into art by looking at paintings on the walls in Deutsche Bank’s offices?

“Yes, that’s true. I used to have weekly meetings in our Auerbach room. They’re these very thickly layered oil paintings by [Frank] Auerbach and I really liked them, and there was an exhibition on at the Royal Academy of his works, so I went along and found myself immersed in it.”

Paul Anderson (right) with 22-year-old leukaemia patient Jaymz Goodman

How important is it for Deutsche Bank to support charities?

“We have in the UK two Charities of the Year who work with the bank to put on a range of activities and events for employees. It’s partly to engage our staff in things they wouldn’t normally be doing to raise money, but it’s also about them using their skills and expertise to support the charities. For example, this summer, our technology department ran a global “Hackathon” to design an app for Cure Leukaemia, engaging over 800 employees.

Why did you choose to partner with the RBSA?

“Originally I didn’t know it was here. I’d been living in the area for a decade and never been, but just stumbled upon it one day. I’m struck by the broad spectrum of things on show. Photography, paintings, ceramics, jewellery… there’s absolutely everything and you just never know when you’re going to go around the corner and find something you really, really like.

“I got in contact with the RBSA and they put on some socials for our staff at lunchtime – art demonstrations with cake and drink. It’s undeniably right that people get away from the desk and clear their heads for a while.”

How about Cure Leukaemia?

“There are two things. Cure Leukaemia always focuses on positive stories. And it’s all about the patients. With Cure Leukaemia, it’s all about ‘how we get trials done, and how we get better outcomes for patients’ and that is frankly a breath of fresh air.”

Can you tell us a bit about the excitement of the auction?

“The artwork is all physically on display in our atrium, and you have to see the works in the flesh to really get a sense of them. What surprised me is that’s its often things you looked at in the brochure and didn’t react to that you think you don’t want to go home without.”

“The auction is a very welcoming environment where people are given plenty of time to understand the bidding process. At last year’s event, there was a massive spectrum of items ranging from a few tens of pounds to thousands of pounds so there’s something for everybody.”