Pandemic closure update – our house to your house

It feels like a few lifetimes ago we sent out an email to say that our fundraiser had been a success. To those who have supported us and helped us reach that goal – know that your funds have been put to immediate and excellent use to help us navigate the global crisis that impacted us and everyone else in March. Some people expressed sympathy that our closure came right after our successful fundraiser, but in most ways this was perfect timing for us,

Thanks to having the reserve we’d aimed for, we were able to close as soon as government advice said to people not to gather in pubs, even though we were not given the order to close for nearly a week after that.

Thanks to having the reserve, we were able to all quarantine for a full 14 days to ensure that none of us had become ill through working with the public – we are all fine by the way.

Thanks so having the reserve, we were able to plan this next stage with plenty of regard for our own mental health, the mental health of our paid crew and we’ve been able to offer our paid crew options for whilst we are closed. Some have opted to be furloughed, one has taken early retirement and two of our crew are going to work to help us to this next stage. We also will have somebody new working with us! We’ll reveal more later 🙂 

Thanks to the reserve, we have been able to wait. To wait to see what our community needed, to wait to see what we can provide. Without the fundraiser, we would have had to close immediately – now we are re-purposing and planning to offer something new for the future (well, we did say we wanted to!). 

This past month we have continued to run some of our programme online and will keep doing this, so please do check the events out below. Watch our Facebook page for updates, as this is where we are most active,

Next week, we move towards trialling a new service – providing meals and provisions to our community. An ‘Art House to go’ so to speak. Longer term we are looking to add crafty kits and other goodies to these deliveries.

Our plan is to do these differently from commercial takeaways – for starters, we do not wish to be open for takeout collection, and we ideally do not wish to use the gig economy (Uber eats, Deliveroo) for our deliveries, as this clashes with our values.

We are exploring tiered pricing and pay-as-you-feel or pay-it-forward options to allow those who are still earning to support the more vulnerable. We are looking to eliminate many allergens from our kitchen to support those with special dietary needs who are currently struggling to access food.

Bik and I have been in preparing the space, extending the kitchen into the upstairs area so that staff can work socially distanced and safely. 

Next week is all about trying this out and not overloading ourselves, which would compromise the long term viability and safety of what we’re planning. We’ll be in touch on Monday or Tuesday with a limited number of delivery slots, open initially to our Patrons, friends, volunteer crew, regulars and people who donated to the fundraiser. If you are one of these – keep an eye out for our emails! 

Please bear with us as we adjust to this new way of working, as we are sure you are adjusting to many new things at the moment.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, we hope that whether you are off work, working from home, home educating, caring, volunteering or a keyworker, you are staying well and safe. We want to support you any way we can.

Lots of love from Jani, Bik, Zigz, Devin and the crew

About janifranck

Artist, activist, founding director of The Art House in Southampton.
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