In early 2020, before the pandemic, we held a fundraiser to allow us to step back, repurpose and redesign how we ran The Art House. You can watch us talking about this here
We raised £25K at the end of February 2020 thanks to the generous support of our community!
Before we could come up for air after all that, the public were advised to avoid spaces like ours in mid March and, to facilitate this, we took the decision to close one week before lockdown.
Since then we have been providing meals and groceries to our community, spreading the word about local and global issues relating to Covid and wider social justice, and running online events and, when allowed, socially distanced events here in the space.
In the background, we redesigned our space into the post-apocalyptic #Bunker178 performance space with the ability to continue live streaming shows from our space post lockdown.
We’re also continuing to run our community pantry and are open for community cafe social time three days a week.
Our original business model of opening full time as a veggie and then vegan cafe, providing food which was very hard to find in Southampton when we started, as a way of generating income, was not working before the pandemic. Increased provision of vegan food (which is good news and we’re pleased about it) made the market more competitive and trying to keep up was eating away at our ability to focus on the art and community events that we were set up to run.
We don’t think it is likely to have changed now, so our focus from here on will be on events, workshops, being a meeting space, running our community pantry and being a more flexible, responsive space to what is needed at any given time.
We know some folks will really miss our menu, so we have teamed up with Hampshire Vegan Catering, aka John Pellegrini, who worked for us as a chef before leaving to focus on his own business and is still based in house to provide food for some of our events, does regular pop up food events like Sunday lunches and high teas, and can also cater for your outside events. He also has a cookbook featuring some of your favourites from The Art House and more!
We will also run our own community food events from time to time, check our calendar for details.
Please watch this space as we reopen, rediscover ourselves and figure out what the future looks like for The Art House.
You can support our transformation, particularly the community pantry, and get behind the scenes updates, free access to online shows and more by joining our Patreon community here.