This so sums up the glorious dilemma of being The Art House. We have created a space that is safe and welcoming for people who don’t find mainstream spaces OK at all. In a lot of ways we’ve created the space that we need – different from the norm, safer, accepting, welcoming.
That’s something we have done very well for many people.
But here’s the catch, see.
The people who love and use this space also are the very ones have been so badly hit by austerity.
People with disabilities, people with mental health challenges, neurodivergent people, people with chronic conditions, younger and older people, LGBTQIA+ people, people who have been pushed to the margins of society …. these make up a lot of our people.
We are also a space for folks who just need something different from the rest of what’s out there, including folks who want wholesome, healthy organic vegan and veggie food!
Thing is, we could get busier and earn more by ramming in lots of uncomfortable seating, turning the music up, getting a loud fancy coffee machine, aggressively upselling, getting people in and out of the door quicker, buying cheap ingredients, serving meat and/or low quality fast food, paying our staff less and having zero hours contracts …. that’s what most other places do to get by.
Or we could fancy things up and raise prices.
In fact the real kicker is watching commercial places around us make profits, expand and grow using these methods. That does test my resolve on the daily, I can tell you!
This would probably attract more customers and make more money, but it would scare off the people who need us and it would be shitty and we just can’t and won’t.
So instead I am here again asking for donations to make up our shortfall in income.
No lie: I find this so hard, even though the money is not for me (I am currently not paid for my role).
I wish it wasn’t this way. I wish our people had plenty to spend, but a lot of them don’t. So I have to ask everyone to pitch in what they can, even if it’s £1 or £5
I just want us to keep going and being here for our people, and some months, including this coming month, the figures don’t add up to a happy story.
If you can help today, please do. It will make our 11th birthday very jolly 🙂