ARETE – the power of story-telling to increase social awareness

by Milena Rampoldi and Denise Nanni, ProMosaik. In this interview we would like to introduce the importance of story telling, a brand-new subject for ProMosaik. ARETE tells stories that make a difference. We talked to Kate Holt to find out what ARETE is about. Would like to thank Kate for her impulses and wonderful photos.

How was founded Arete and with what aims?
Arete was formed in 2012 by photojournalist Kate Holt, who has over twenty years experience working for the international media and global humanitarian organisations. Kate has been both a journalist and photographer, covering many wars, humanitarian and natural disasters: from the conflicts in Afghanistan and Somalia, to drought in the horn of Africa and the earthquake in Haiti. Arete works throughout Africa, Afghanistan and the Middle East and has recently taken on projects in South America. Kate established Arete with the aim of using her extensive knowledge of the media and NGO industry to help organisations tell their stories better.
What are the reason that brought you to establish Arete?
Arete (Ancient Greek: ἀρετή), means excellence of any kind. In its earliest appearance in Greek, this notion of excellence was ultimately bound up with the act of living up to one’s full potential. It means “being the best you can be.” Through excellence in production and training, Arete helps its clients to tell stories that make a difference by inspiring positive social awareness.
Kate has always been committed to using local talent where possible, and through Arete has provided many locally based photographers and videographers with the opportunity to work for international clients.  Kate also believes passionately that anyone can be trained to take a photo or tell their story. A key pillar of Arete’s work is providing workshops –  for both children and adults – that empower them to tell their own stories, or those of people they work with, better.
How important is the way in which a story is told? What are the benefits of an effective story-telling?
Arete believes in the power of good story telling to promote positive social awareness. When stories are told well they are memorable – people are able to digest key messages better, and retain information long afterwards. People always remember a strong photograph, and the strength of the visual imagery in everything we produce is one of our trademarks.
Our services are based on extensive knowledge of the media industry. We help a diverse range of organisations to build customised communication strategies and cultivate effective story telling – both visually and through the written word. We also design bespoke training courses to help companies and organisations tell their own stories more effectively.
The Arete team are committed media and communication experts, all with considerable experience of working in challenging and hostile environments, as well as high profile corporate situations. We understand the importance, in these environments in particular, of organisations and businesses must get their messaging right to ensure the local population, as well as a wider audience, are supportive of programs. As people become increasingly skeptical of aid programmes and their motives this type of positive story telling is become increasingly important.