Our Story

It all started with a text message, one of those moments where everything changes in an instant!

In 2007, a commercial art gallery in Southampton, one which already showcased local art, was about to close.

Together, with help from friends, the four founders (Bik, Jani, Nina and Ziggy) formed a voluntary not-for-profit organisation and took over the running of the space, adding food and drink, crafts, clothing, more events and groups to what was on offer.

The aims of the organisation were (and still are!):-

To PROMOTE all the arts.
To ENHANCE our local & global community.
To ENCOURAGE positive, healthy and sustainable living.

In April 2008 The Art House became a Community Interest Company, a new type of social enterprise.

The venture took off and grew so rapidly that the space soon became too small!

In March 2009, The Art house moved to it’s current location on Above Bar Street, in the new ‘Cultural Quarter’.

Since then, The Art House has blossomed into an established arts venue, gallery, workshop and meeting space, all underpinned, and funded, by a cafe serving high quality food and drink.

Many volunteers have joined in…. from Tony who started by painting an upstairs room and now looks after much of the building maintenance (and the bread making, and teaches sign language!).  Natalie and Graham, who started as volunteers and are now paid co-ordinators for the cafe.  Jenni, who began in the cafe and now manages the secondhand clothes shop and runs sewing workshops – to name just a few of literally hundreds of people who are part of this story.

The crew share a common passion for the environment and for social justice.

Sustainability and ethical choices have always been at the heart of what The Art House does.The food is made on the premises with organic, fairtrade and locally sourced products wherever possible.

All of the menu is vegetarian, and most is vegan, to lower the environmental impact of the food and drink served here whilst keeping it utterly delicious, wholesome and satisfying.

When you visit, you will find a space that is quirky, welcoming and utterly one of a kind, just like the people who spend time here!

It’s a place where those who are looking for something a little out of the ordinary will be wonderfully surprised.  A place where each individual is welcomed warmly and respected for their own uniqueness.

There are some big ideas at work, too.  The project is just one part of a growing, global movement for social and environmental justice.

By coming in to visit, you’re not just having lunch, doing a workshop or watching some live music, you are taking part in a worldwide groundswell which is really rather life-changing.

The red butterfly on The Art House logo expresses this so well.  It’s a symbol both of the emergence of creativity and passion that happens here, the beauty of transforming our own lives to embrace our fullest potential, and the way that small actions can make a big, big difference in the world.

The Art House and her crew would like you to become part of this story by visiting soon!

If you are checking out this site and thinking you’d like to do something similar, check out Jani’ blog post on how to start your own!

We invite you to join the mailing list, to stay in touch:

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