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.
Our community pantry makes a difference every week during these difficult times.
Since last summer, we’ve been sourcing good quality, in-date food that would otherwise go to waste and redistributing it to our local community via our pantry.
The pantry is for anyone – whether somebody is short of cash that week for groceries, could use a little easing on their finances, wants to stop food going to waste or support our project by paying-what-you-feel for food.
We don’t ask people intrusive questions or require any proof of need, the pantry is just like any other shop you can just walk into – we also always place food outside for people who might be too shy to come in, also to enable folks avoiding indoor spaces to still use the pantry.
The whole project works in the spirit of mutual aid rather than charity, and many people who use the pantry when things are rough will make donations when money is less tight, creating a lovely ecosystem of kindness.
Although the food is diverted surplus, we still have to pay a fee to access it and have it delivered to us. We also need to pay crew to open and run the pantry, do the admin – and of course there’s the rent and bills on top of that.
We were lucky to access funding for six months, which helped cover a lot of the costs, but that funding has now run out.
You are able to support the pantry and make a real difference by:
You can transfer money to our bank account or set up a regular standing order:
The Art House Southampton Sort code 089299 Account no. 65287334, (The Co-operative Bank)
You can make a donation when you visit us, cash or card.
We also do regular shout outs for directed donations, which enable you to pay forward coffees, chilled meals, groceries or toiletries to people using our pantry here.
You can also drop in date, unopened toiletries in to us any time the pantry is open. These are very much appreciated by our regulars, as toiletries can put a real dent in a already stretched budget.
The pandemic can often make us feel helpless, the sheer scale of it, but we believe that small acts of solidarity and generosity can make a big difference. It isn’t just about the money saved or the food not going in the bin, but the sense that people still look out for one another in this crisis.
Thanks for reading and for your support and encouragement, it means a lot!
Being a (at least partly) trans-run venue, we were very excited to hear that our regular performer The Travelling Talesman had been commissioned for an LGBTQ+ event to tell a set of stories featuring Genderfluid Gods!
Needless to say persuasion was applied for him to bring this to us via our virtual events and we are really looking forward to it.
8pm Saturday 15 May 2021, on Zoom (link will be sent when you book) Tickets are by donation, pay what you can
We have been asked to help find volunteer marshals to assist with the vaccination programme in the SO16 area for a period of at least three months.PPE will be supplied and a full health risk assessment.
Tea and coffee provided, plus breaks.
This role is to support Solent NHS Trust and the COVID Vaccine Programme by providing support to the community by directing cars through a one-way system to a parking space, ensuring the flow of traffic is moving at a safe pace.
Further marshals will direct and guide visitors safely (on foot) around the course, into the vaccine centre. The marshals are there to be a visible presence, offering clear direction, guidance and reassurance to visitors attending the centre, with help to exit the car park promptly.
If you are interested in helping, please phone or email:
We will be closing our community pantry and meal service for 2 weeks from Monday 21 December to Wednesday 6 January, so that our crew can take a much needed break.Our current plan is to reopen the pantry on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 12.30 – 4pm for groceries and chilled meals, and the cafe for takeaway drinks and cakes only for at least all of January, as the uncertainty about infection rates makes us prefer to err on the side of caution and stick to the strictest Tier rules for now.
Keep an eye our for our online events:Saturday 2 January – The Travelling Talesman will be seeing in the new year with a selection of stories ‘Start as we mean to go on’ (ticket link and details coming soon).
Wednesday 2 – 3.30pm from 6/1/21 we’ll have crafty cafe sessions, drop in online and craft with company!
Our community pantry is open to all and provides by-donation vegan (and occasionally veggie) food each week.
We believe that access to healthy food is a basic human right and our pantry is an act of solidarity, not charity.
🧺 No proof of ‘need’ or explaination is required and we don’t make judgements on who ‘should’ use the service or why.
💰Donations are invited in exchange for your shopping, but there is no pressure and you can donate online at a later date if you need to and ‘pay it forward’ to somebody else.
📷 We do not take and share photographs of people visiting the space without clear and enthusiastic consent.
😀 Our friendly crew are on hand to help and offer advice on unfamiliar ingredients, but you are not obliged to chat if you don’t want to – we usually put some of the stock outside or in our entryway to make visiting even simpler.
This service is run by people who have experienced food poverty, financial insecurity and living as vulnerable people for a number of reasons. We understand the need for privacy, safety and dignity.