Jani here – I’ve just been catching up on emails after being in the kitchen making soup yesterday. I wanted to share one of them with you. I have also shared the recipe for the soup to our Patreon supporters here.
Somebody who works for the local Steps to Wellbeing contacted us, asking for more details about the pantry. They said that they are getting ‘more and more clients who are struggling to live on Universal Credit now that energy prices are rising and the uplift has ended.”
Asking for more info on when the pantry is open and what we provide, they said “It might be a Godsend for some of my clients.”
We anticipate our pantry being very much needed over the winter, so thank you to every one of our supporters who enable us to keep it open and stocked up!
Quick #Covid update: we have never dropped masking or social distancing in our space, so we will continue to limit numbers, keep performance times short with ventilation breaks and encourage masking and lateral flow testing. We are keeping an eye on the local situation to decide how we run events this winter, but anticipate keeping these measures in place until spring unless things improve unexpectedly over the coming months.
Some of our upcoming events will be more self-directed in terms of how people choose to sit / stand, rather than set tables/seating in bubbles as earlier in the year, but there will be space to stand away from others or move your seating to facilitate distancing. Where practical we have doors open front and back during events, and CO2 monitoring and extraction to make sure ventilation is good.
Jani is one of the founding directors of The Art House and has been co-running the space since we started in 2008.
It’s their birthday today and they have asked those wish to show some birthday love to do so in the form of donating the price of a card or slice of cake to our pantry. The target it to cover the £575 we just paid for our supermarket surplus deliveries until the end of November, and will give us over 1000kgs of food to share with our community.
You can pay forward here or just use our Paypal, we’ll tally it all up and report back tomorrow once Jani has enjoyed a day off for their birthday shenanigans!
If you can afford to chip a few pounds in, this would be a wonderful show of support – thank you!
Waste and purity, or practicality? On our approach to supplying vegan food in our pantry.
Each week we have a delivery of supermarket surplus food diverted from bins, which we redistribute. Although most of it is vegan, occasionally non-vegan things slip into our delivery, as the volunteers who prepare our pallets aren’t always clear on what is and is not vegan.
We have decided that it is better this non- vegan food go to folks who need food than to be thrown away.
We never buy any non-vegan ingredients or products ourselves, nor do we cook with anything non-vegan in our kitchen, however we have a pragmatic view of preventing food waste.
A great many of the street community and others who use our pantry are not vegan and are happy to use non-vegan food when we get it, so if you see the occasional non-vegan item in the pantry, this is why!
Our community pantry and community cafe events have become very important services locally since the start of the pandemic. We anticipate that, with the end of the furlough scheme, drop in Universal Credit and rising prices of energy, fuel and food, our community are going to need these services more than ever over the coming year.
We are lucky to currently have 46 Patreon supporters, as well as regular supporters via PayPal and direct to our bank account. We have made the decision to focus all of our Patreon fundraising on keeping the pantry and community cafe events financially viable.
Each level has the same rewards – in keeping with our values of making what we do as accessible as possible – and each level directly supports the pantry in very tangible ways.
If you are a supporter, you do not need to do anything, your regular amount remains the same!
We are introducing access to our live music events online for all Patreon supporters and those who support with regular payments through other channels and will be adding other benefits as time goes on, as well as keeping you updated with Patreon-only posts, videos and lives in our private patrons Facebook group. Whatever amount you give each month, you will have this access.
The levels of support start at £2.50 per month, with amounts to suit all budgets.
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.
One year ago, we had our first delivery of surplus food diverted from waste and set up a stall outside our space, which was still closed due to the first lockdown.
Since then we have redistributed more than 12 tonnes of food to hundreds of people. Thanks to donations from our community of £1712, £4155 from our Patreon supporters and a Lottery grant of £10,000 we have been able to run the pantry three days a week, buy equipment needed like fridges and spread the word out what we’re doing.
Thank you so much if you are one of our Patreon supporters or somebody who has paid forward pantry items.
Other ways you can help:
We are looking for donations of clean, empty reusable water bottles (not empty single use bottles) so we can give out water, also sun hats and sunscreen please!
You can pop these in when we are open, please don’t leave anything outside when we are closed as we could get into trouble for things left on the pavement.
If you can’t make it in, we’re taking donations online to support our pantry and help us to continue running this facility, you can donate here. During the heatwave we’ll be using ‘paid forward hot drinks’ to fund water bottles and toiletries donations to buy sunscreen (we’ll update the online shop to reflect this soon, please bear with us!).
Vee, Gill, Jani, Ziggy, Jessica, David, Alys, Salma – and Devin and Graham behind the scenes/admin crew.