Let’s fool the robbas (again!)

Well, there is never a dull moment at The Art House, that’s for certain.

As you may know, we had a break-in on 8 March with a great deal of damage done by the two men who broke in and were looking for things to steal – they managed to steal very little indeed, but caused a lot of mess including a hole in the wall which we have been having fun with ever since, because silliness and creativity are always the best response to adversity!

On Monday 17 April, we had another break-in (which may well be linked to the first but
appeared to be a different person).

The good news is that the person who broke in this time was caught (hiding behind a manikin in our attic!) due to very rapid police response.  He has pleaded guilty and will be sentenced later this week.

Here is the policeman who caught the robba!  Of course, we had to get him to pose thru the hole to add to our collection.

As you can imagine, all of the police who arrived here that night (there were a lot of them, and a helicopter – most dramatic!) were grinning ear to ear at having made an arrest, as they seldom manage to get somebody red-handed.

We hope that, having been caught, the robba chooses a better future ahead of him than whatever happened in his past to lead him to carry out such a nasty act.

Although one person who attempted to steal from us has now been caught, the sad truth is that our building needs extra security to keep us safer in future, as all small businesses are very vulnerable to crime and we are no exception.

Insurance covers the basic repairs, but it won’t cover the upgrades we need.  It also does not cover the disruption, extra work arranging repairs and claims, stress and the focus it takes to recover from an event like this.

We are already feeling a major financial impact from these events and, with summer coming up and in these uncertain times, this puts the future of The Art House at very real risk.

There are a few ways you can help us, if you want to!

Donate via PayPal, either as a one-off or, by checking the ‘make this a recurring donation’ box, give us a small amount regularly (so helpful!)

We also urgently need volunteers at the moment!  Easter is a time we lose a lot of our regular student crew and we are short handed on all shifts at the moment.

If you are able to volunteer at least twice a month, either a regular time or ad hoc to fit around your other commitments, in the cafe or kitchen, we would love to hear from you….. and of course, the best thing you can always do is to come in and enjoy lunch, a snack, a drink, supper or some of our famous cake!  We are open 10.30am – 10pm Tuesday – Saturday and 12 – 5pm on Sundays.   Enjoy one of our many events

We also urgently need volunteers at the moment!  Easter is a time we lose a lot of our regular student crew and we are short handed on all shifts at the moment.  Find out more here

If you are able to volunteer at least twice a month, either a regular time or ad hoc to fit around your other commitments, in the cafe or kitchen, we would love to hear from you.

…. and of course, the best thing you can always do is to come in and enjoy lunch, a snack, a drink, supper or some of our famous cake!  We are open 10.30am – 10pm Tuesday – Saturday and 12 – 5pm on Sundays.   Enjoy one of our many events

As always, we rely on the support of our customers, our patrons, our supporters, our volunteers and our community to keep us going.  As long as you are there, we will be here for you to enjoy – and we thank you so much.

Love, peace and cake,

Jani, Bik, Zigz, Graham, Joanne, Duncan, Devin, Alex, Henry, Sam, Dave and Jacqui – The Art House co-ordinators, and all our volunteers

 

Posted in Behind the scenes

Do you ever think about the energy efficiency of your food?

Do you ever think about the energy efficiency of your food? Serving mostly vegan food, we are going to have a go at working out our GHG (Greenhouse Gas) emission savings over the past year, based on the data from our till. – Roughly 150 ‘meals’ per week (takes cake into account.)

http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/EI167.1

“..An important albeit often overlooked personal choice of substantial GHG emission consequences is one’s diet. Evaluating the implications of dietary choices to one’s planetary footprint (narrowly defined here as total personal GHG emissions) and comparing those implications to the ones associated with personal transportation choices are the purposes of the current paper.”

“In 2003, U.S. methane emissions from agriculture totaled 182.8 × 106 tonne CO2-eq, of which 172.2 × 106 tonne CO2-eq are directly due to livestock (U.S. Department of Energy 2004b).  With 291 million Americans in 2003, this amounts to 800 kg CO2-eq per capita annually in excess of the emissions associated with a vegan diet.”

“Meat production requires 6 to 17 times as much land as soy. (Reijnders and Soret, 2003)”

“The available evidence suggests that plant-based diets are safe, and are probably nutritionally superior to mixed diets deriving a large fraction of their calories from animals.”

Animal-based burden is 1500kg CO2-eq per person per year, or 4.1kg per day!  Three meals a day, makes this 1.37kg per meal.  We serve about 150 meals per week.  150 x 1.37kg = 205kg per week or 10,000 tonnes of CO2-eq per year!!

The average footprint for a person in the UK was 8.5 tonnes and in the US was 17.5 tonnes in 2008, so we have cancelled out the carbon footprint of 1176 UK and 571 US residents!

(We haven’t taken into account the reduction of CO2 through cooking en-masse as opposed to people staying at home and cooking for themselves, but we reckon that is cancelled out by the transport to get to us.)

[This post has been reproduced from a blog written in 2011]

Posted in Uncategorized

URGENT! Summer volunteers needed!

Summer really feels like it is coming and here at The Art House we are gearing up for a season on dairy free sundaes, picnics in the park, gorgeous seasonal salads and of course many, many events!

As usual at this time of year, some of our crew who are students go into exam time and (after that) summer holidays, meaning we need to recruit new volunteers!

Volunteering is a great way to get ‘behind the scenes’ here and really feel a part of the work we do.  It’s also a fab way to make new friends, gain confidence, learn new skills and …. well …. just have fun whilst contributing to something you believe in!

Did you know:

* You can volunteer as little as twice a month
* You can choose a regular shift, or ad-hoc to suit your other commitments
* Our opening hours mean you can volunteer weekdays, evenings or weekends
* After a qualifying period you get a privilege card which gives you a juicy DISCOUNT
* You can use your work at The Art House to enhance your CV and we even give references to crew who complete the training period
* Our crew are all ages with so many different interests.  You don’t have to be an artist / hippy / vegan – you just have to have an open heart and a willingness to muck in!

We do hope you will consider helping out at this time, when we really do need support!

Find out all about volunteering and apply here.

Click to share this with your Facebook friends – even if you are not in position to help, perhaps somebody you know may love to join our crew?

Click here to share this on Twitter

 

Posted in Uncategorized

What my Dad finally learned at the end

18498_983868801647724_3608939451678657302_n

Bik’s Dad Keith, was a volunteer for four years and brought in organic produce from his allotment!

So, as many of you will know, the last twelve months have been especially difficult for me, Jani, my Sister and all at The Art House, where my Dad, our oldest volunteer, who worked here once a week, was diagnosed about a year ago, with Pancreatic Cancer. Next week would have been his 84th birthday. At his first consultation, given his age, he was offered no treatment, but with his insistence, some influence from my Sister, Wendy (she is the head of the Human Genetics Unit for the Medical Research Council) and his obvious general good health, he was put on a fairly radical regime of chemotherapy. Although there was a vanishingly small chance of any long-term recovery, he was rewarded with one more summer on his beloved organic allotment and in his award-winning wildlife garden, that he almost certainly wouldn’t have had, otherwise. We miss his surplus organic produce on our menu.

He was a stubborn old bird, and refused the help of the local hospice until it was too late, feigning independence until, in the end, when he finally couldn’t get out of bed one morning, and with the help of two brilliant paramedics, we were finally able to get him into a side-room at St Richards in Chichester, where we stayed with him round-the-clock, in shifts for nine unnecessary days of distress as he slowly vanished. He finally asked for help. But it wasn’t the kind we were able to give him, though the team their were, eventually, able to make him ‘comfortable’. It was the last thing he said. My support for assisted dying is now firmly cemented.

We can’t thank the amazing nurses and doctors enough – there were two, in particular, that we shall be forever grateful to. We had a privileged vantage point, walking the corridors of the Emergency Floor day and night, of observing all the medical staff and just how hard they work (and how tired they looked.) That is why, today, The Art House is supporting the Junior Doctor’s strike just outside in The Guildhall Square with free teas and coffee.. it’s the very least we could do.

We have some other heroes to thank – our Patrons. While we supported my Dad, they supported us with a monthly donation to The Art House. Without this regular income, it is not over-dramatic to say, we would have had to fold the business and The Art House would be no more. In brief, we have *always* been short by about 7%, which we would normally have plugged with a funded project, but that takes time – time we didn’t have. It was nerve-wracking for us. So we did what my Dad finally learnt to do. Ask. 150 of you came forward to donate as much as as £50 each a month, and most have continued with their donations.

Of course, we could have cut corners to make up the 7%. We could have decided not to buy Fair Trade, organic, local produce. We could have decided not to keep pushing toward our staff having a proper living wage. We could have gone for easy-to-market cover bands at our gigs, instead of genre-changing artists digging deep for their art. We could have decided not to make just vegan and vegetarian food and start doing bacon butties, so that fewer people would walk away from our menu board outside without coming in. (Actually, we couldn’t have done this in practice, if we had wanted to, because we wrote it into our constitution that we would always be a vegan & vegetarian establishment.) We could have decided not to take volunteers with mental health conditions and learning disabilities under our wings, or pay to have all our recycling processed and send it to landfill instead or not buy planet-friendly cleaning products. We could have sought corporate sponsorship, like the Tate does from BP. But then, we just wouldn’t be the Art House, so we may as well have closed, anyway.

Things haven’t been easy, mind. We did only get 150 out of the 300 patrons we needed, but thanks to a large loan from my Sister, we just about made it. Just. So, if you want to continue helping us close the gap, whilst sticking to the principles that make us different from just about anywhere else, please consider making a monthly donation. Seriously, any amount is amazing. Most donations are £5 a month. As it costs about £1.25 a minute, roughly, to keep our doors open, you will be paying for a whole 4 minutes a month, or nearly 3/4 of a hour a year! We can do a lot in 45 minutes! YOUR 45 minutes!

So, if you want to keep us afloat and to keep growing and keep those artists paid and those bills covered, then please consider joining us as a Patron. You’ll find a link and more information here: https://thearthousesouthampton.org/patrons-needed/

We have decided that, although thanks aren’t necessary for most of them, that we would start inviting Patrons-only to some of our events. (Tonight we have a Patrons-only art exhibition opening, a great opportunity for those Patrons who live nearby, to come and say hello and meet some new people.)

If you can’t make a regular donation, but can give us something one-off, that also helps a lot – click here to do this!

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Jani-finally-went-off-the-deep-end-about-Southampton yesterday

Yesterday, Jani saw a post following what sounded like a great event at the new Tiger Yard, talking about what kind of city Southampton would be.  In it, the post-er of the post said The Art House was great but that we need a Gantry-like space in Southampton.  A grassroots arts centre, not just a big shiny one like the proposed new arts complex being fitted out at the moment.  We have heard this many, many times.  The Art House is great, but it’s not the Gantry.

We agree.  We set up, in a smaller premises, with the aim of trying out a way of running a grassroots arts space free from Council or other funding.  You can read more about our business model here, if you want.

The post and indeed the poster yesterday was well-intentioned, expressing a view we’d heard many times, and indeed mainly expressing nostalgia for a lost venue that we all miss, but for some reason it made something go ‘snap’ in Jani.

If you don’t know, The Gantry was a community-run, part-Council-funded arts centre which was absolutely lovely and which was closed very suddenly.

We try to stay positive.  The rule is, never admit you’re struggling, never say anything negative or controversial, but this is Jani’s take on the Gantry, and us, and why we don’t have another bigger arts centre yet.  It’s not gentle:

Confirmed by some conversations with people who saw the post, here are some realities:

The mythologically fab Gantry we’re supposedly not as quite good as and that people would go to if it was still open/replicated, struggled to get people to come to things all the time.

Struggled to make enough to survive or even keep the roof from leaking. Was 50% Council funded making it vulnerable to the plug being pulled – which is what happened.

This direct from people who were actually involved. If they’d felt massively supported, then when they lost their building they’d have started again somewhere else. Those poor folks probably felt as worn out and fed up as we often do with this city of sofa-sitting.

Why *should* Council tax revenue fund a space which won’t be fully used? So folks can sit home and feel pleased we have a ‘proper’ arts centre?

Our new arts complex will be shiny, posh, privately owned and possibly quite highbrow because those building it know that will attract a paying audience. The chains beneath it will open a year before the art happens because that’s where they know people will spend money.  Money is a reality in this situation.

Like many funded places, it’s likely to have a far sparser programme than a place which relies on being busy to stay open. Our crammed programme outstrips and outshines every ‘proper art centre’ out there.  We think that need to be busy is a strength of an unfunded space.

(To be clear:  We’re super excited about the new arts complex, we think shiny and posh has it’s place too in a local scene.  We’re excited despite the only thing being open there right now being a Nandos – but that’s a whole other blog post.)

What people are saying, quite rightly, is that the new complex appears to be heading in a less grassrootsy direction than we’d hoped.  It will not be a replacement for the Gantry, not at all.

This is Bik. This is what his face does when a gig sells out. We do not see this face often enough!

This is Bik. This is what his face does when a gig sells out. We do not see this face often enough!

So.  If we want a groovy, community sized, affordable space we are going to have to build it ourselves.

Grassroots art has to be funded by local people, by it’s very definition. It is not the Council’s job to create culture, it’s our job to make it and use it.

Here’s the rub.  We’re already doing it, on a smaller scale, and have been since 2008.  We are not at capacity, not even close.

If there was enough support for such a place, The Art House would be heaving all the time.  Our gigs would sell out, our groups would be full, our classes packed.  We’d be making a surplus right now…. guess what we’d do with that?

We’d have a nest egg growing to purchase or lease a building in a few years and create something still small but with studio space, separate workshop spaces, a garden, a 100 seater performance/film space and more for this community.

That was our big dream. Southampton didn’t have to wait for funding. Southampton don’t have to wait at all. The spirit of the Gantry is alive and well with us and it was from day 1.

Instead, when our lease runs out in just over three years, if we are making a slight loss as we did last year (and a few others years) or just breaking even as we are this year, we may not even be able to stay as we are or where we are – especially not if our rent increases.

We don’t want to close.  We have no plans to close.  But we can only stay open if people need us.  Really – as in coming out and using the space – need us.  

Not sitting at home thinking we’re great need us.  That doesn’t work.

We set ourselves a target for 300 people to support us regularly to help with the up and down income which causes us to struggle each summer. 130 people have generously signed up – we’re so grateful and happy they have!  Some of those folks are folks who genuinely can’t get out – we have Patrons who are disabled, single parents, ill, carers or just live too far away.

But despite baring our souls, sharing our finances and even discussing our private family situation to fully explain the need for this support the remaining 170 have failed to appear. So when Bik’s Dad gets sicker, which he eventually will, or when some other slump or crisis hits, we’ll still be at risk.

We’re the lucky ones – many haven’t even made it this far and breaking even is a triumph compared to many places we’ve lost. The Bent Brief being one recent and notable loss, it’s windows boarded up and it’s dedicated landlord and lady left with not a penny for the 15 years they ran that lovely music venue.  That’s not OK, Southampton.

So we are lucky and we know we are.

But we certainly cannot dream of buying somewhere with no capital and a very up-and-down audience base, many of whom who vanish every time the weather’s a bit warm or there’s something good on telly, or whenever something new pops up elsewhere.

We can’t grow our dream on Facebook likes.

This. This is how you do it - walk through the doors!

This. This is how you do it – walk through the doors!

We can’t grow it on ‘I keep meaning to come in’ and ‘I would but I’m hardly ever in town’ (if I had a penny for every time I heard that, we’d pay the rent easily each quarter!)

Our place is amazing. Use it.

Maybe it’s not quite what you’d want?  Cool.

If you want it to be different, volunteer – our volunteers shape our future plans directly.

If you want to see something happening here, come in and run it.  If you want better art on the walls or different music, point artists in our direction.

We’re responsive to our community, we’re not some fixed edifice.  Sure, we have values (strong ones) and won’t change completely to suit ‘the masses’, but we’re open to local artists and active citizens getting stuck in to making us what we will be next year, and the one after that.

We have a gorgeous base of regulars who we appreciate more than words can say, and to build our dream we need many more of the same.

This city is blessed with many heroes creating art – Southampton Chamber of Arts, aspace Arts Gods House Tower Project, unit11 studios, SoCo MusicProject, Red Hot Press, K6 gallery, Tiger Yard, Art Asia …. to name but a handful (if we’ve left you out it’s because there are too many of you to list here, not because we value you any less that the ones we listed – please pop yourself in the comments).

Not to mention the music venues we are privileged to have.

Every time you say ‘this city is devoid of culture’ you snub the efforts of all those people.

Rude! Go out and support them instead.

If you’re living in Southampton and reading this then yes, I do mean you. Once every three to six months is not often enough to come out. Not if you really want to change this city. Don’t know what’s on? If you are on the Book of Face, check out our Hubbub What’s On guide which we will try and keep as up to date as possible.

Consistent support.  Leave the flippin’ house.  Often.

Lose your fascination with shiny new things, lose your nostalgia for things past, switch Netflix OFF, stop spending all your weekends at festivals and in other cities and give your energy, money and time to what exists now. Regularly.

So – I no longer want to hear how great the Gantry was or how great a fictitious new space would be from people who hardly ever come to us, hardly ever visit any other local venues and probably hardly ever went there, either.

Southampton will get exactly the arts centre it deserves, in my opinion.  It’s kind of up to you.

Signed with a loving kick up the jacksy,

Jani

A tired Art House Director

Posted in Community news & views

Weekend volunteers needed! A special request

12049511_10153862703945769_7768604758384464611_nAs you may already know, most of the people who work here at The Art House are volunteers.

We are particularly in need of weekend and evening volunteers in the cafe at the moment, as well as people who are happy to help set up the upstairs space for gigs, check tickets and pack down at the end in the evenings (which has the added perk of getting to see the acts we put on here!).

It’s a great way to enjoy our space at it’s liveliest and best, so if you have two or more four-hour slots in your month that you could offer us, take a look here to find out more.

Our current volunteers say that they make new friends and connections, learn new skills, have a lot of fun here – whilst also contributing to The Art House in a very real way.

We are always open to applications from people who can help at any of the times we are open in the cafe and kitchen, too.

Most of our roles are very hands-on rather than creative.  We need people to make the bit that funds us (mostly food and drinks!) work, so that we can provide a space for local creativity.

Whether you can give a regular weekly few hours, or need to be more flexible – as long as you are available about twice a month on average, love what we do and are willing to muck in with the tasks we need, we’d love to hear from you.

Click here for an application form and more info!

I hope to meet you behind the scenes 🙂

If you can’t volunteer, perhaps you could lend a hand by sharing this on Facebook or Twitter!

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Posted in Getting involved

A quick financial update from Jani

As we put out a call for Patrons earlier in the year, being very transparent with our finances, I thought it was time for an update on how that’s going.

The Art House will cost an estimated £188000 this year to run, in total.

Around £97,000 of that is fixed costs we need to have a building, services, basic staffing, licences and all the other things which are required to open the doors to the public.

The remaining costs are what it costs to run the cafe side of things, which also happens to be where most of the income comes from.

So, we couldn’t cover that £97,000 with ticket sales and donations alone, and have to run a cafe to generate the money needed to be here.  

Also, having a cafe means more people come in – honestly it just makes sense to be a cafe rather than just a gallery, workshop and performance space.  Food and drink are the solid foundation of our community, as well as the way it’s all paid for.

Which works well, for the most part, but consistently leaves us with a shortfall of around 7 – 8% each year, caused for the most part by us going quieter in the summer whilst many of our regulars are away, but also factors like the roadworks we currently have outside!

The catering industry is notoriously unprofitable, unless one is a large chain.  Ask any small businessperson and they will tell you it’s a constant tightrope walk between staying open and going under.

So, earlier this year we asked our community to join together and help.

We did this this year particularly because, Bik and I are also supporting Bik’s Dad through cancer treatment, and our time and energy (which us usually ploughed into heroic measures to keep The Art House going when the income drops) have been split between work and family.

We’ve had a lovely, lovely response.

Our current Patrons are now contributing around £700 per month to help meet our running costs, helping us to plug a shortfall we were anticipating through the summer, as we do every year.

Most of these lovely folks are giving just £5 a month, some have expressed regret that it isn’t more but, as you can see, it all adds up to a nice figure!  £5 a month is plenty, so generous and so appreciated.

The good news is, the ‘summer slump’ was less slumpy than usual this year.  The bad news is – in the current financial year, we are running around an average of £300 a week short in our cafe income, needing an extra top-up to meet all of the costs of running the space.

The donations and Patrons have helped a lot with this, quite literally keeping the wolf from the door these past few months.

But costs keep rising and we must keep working to get that income flowing in consistently, without putting our prices out of reach of so many of the people who use us.

We also are working to bring all of our crew to the living wage by April 2016 – which means a series of increases so it doesn’t all hit at once.  It seems impossible to run an ethical business when our paid workers, however dedicated and willing, are paid below the National Living (as opposed to minimum) wage – a wage calculated on actual living costs – and we can’t keep doing this.

Our target for Patrons is to get 300 people giving an average of £5 per month, which is £1500 monthly income we don’t have to count on cake sales for.  This will cover both our current shortfall and the increase in wages, and most of all give us the secure footing we need to keep going, growing and adding to what we do.

Honestly?  We need those extra 170 people.  You could be one of them.

130 have signed up so far, and it’s helping immensely.

It’s so hard to say ‘but we need the other 170’ without sounding churlish and ungrateful for the generous 130 we have now.

We are SO very appreciative of every penny anyone spends or donates here.  We are so committed to delivering the very best value for every one of those pennies, encouraging creativity and making a space where people can truly spread their wings and change their lives for the better.

In order for this to be viable, long term,  as a space which is led by our hearts and not our bank balance, we need that extra income from Patrons.

We have tried everything else we can think of, trust us, but staying ethical, affordable and financially viable takes some extra, imaginative effort.

It’s also hard to say ‘it costs more to work our way’ without sounding like we are criticising our neighbours and the fellow venues and cafes around Southampton – many of whom are dear friends.

But the truth is:  commercial venues operate differently to The Art House.  

To run ethically and choose our suppliers and services with more than money saving in mind  – well, it costs more.  That’s why other places can’t do it and still be profitable, not unless they’re only serving the richer people in our community.  

That’s why we set up as a not-for-profit and are supported by volunteers alongside some paid crew.

That’s why we ask for your help.

If you do want to make a regular donation every month please click here.

If you have anything you can donate one-off right now, please click here

If you (like me!) are short of cash but not short of support, please share this here on Twitter or here on on Facebook.


A little note to anyone who is now picking through the above figures and wondering why we can’t just pay our own flippin’ bills without asking for money from you:

I hope this makes sense to you anyway, even if you don’t wish to help.  I hope you can respect our right to ask, and your equally valid right to say ‘no’.

It’s tricky to convey the complexities of our business model, costs and income in one blog post (our accountant takes £120 per hour to do it for us so it’s impossible to present every nuance to you!), but I think I’ve been as clear and honest as I can be.  

This may not resonate with you.  It’s a vulnerable (unbelievably vulnerable) thing to share one’s finances.  Honestly, if you think it’s none of your concern if The Art House is not making enough money that’s totally OK – but if you can’t help, share or encourage, please do go peacefully on your way, with our very best wishes.


The support – financial and otherwise – we’ve had this summer as been tremendous.  We couldn’t still be here without it.

Thank you so much.

Posted in Behind the scenes, Future plans, Getting involved

A bit of a turn for the worse

An update by Bik on our current family situation (if you haven’t been following our posts this summer, please click here for details)

My Pops is made of sterling stuff, but his chemotherapy / uninvited guest, are taking their toll.

Waiting again with my Dad - aka 'The Feet'

Waiting again with my Dad – aka ‘The Feet’

Most of yesterday was spent sat with him in examination rooms and waiting rooms at St Richards after he woke up on Sunday with a swollen arm and hand which were an alarming shade of blue. Ultrasound revealed a whopping great clot in his shoulder which can’t be cleared unless the chemo stops, so there’s a decision to be made later this week. Anyway,he’s out mowing his lawn today, regardless. We’ll keep you posted of the outcome.

It’s been a trying weekend for a number of reasons and through all this, our crew have been an inspiration, juggling to keep all the plates spinning. But I’m behind on my tasks, mostly on booking gigs for this month and November (October is pretty full!) so we’re now facing a drop in income that’s growing steadily, and we’re having to dip into our reserves (of money AND energy.)

The Magnificent Patrons who have signed up to donate a fiver a month (and more) have helped to take the strain, and although we now have 130+ it’s well short of or 300 target. If you think you can help us out with a regular donation of just £1.25 a week, you’ll help ensure we can keep going while our family crisis plays out. Thanks for reading, and hope to see you all soon!

Bik

“So what’s all this about then, and where can I sign up?! ..   click here

A quick financial update from Jani:

Our current Patrons are contributing around £700 per month to help meet our running costs, helping us to plug a shortfall we were anticipating through the summer, as we do every year.

The good news is, the ‘summer slump’ was less slumpy than usual this year.  The bad news is – in the current financial year, we are running around an average of £300 a week short in our cafe income, needing an extra top-up to meet all of the costs of running the space.

The donations and Patrons have helped a lot with this, quite literally keeping the wolf from the door these past few months.

But costs keep rising and we must keep working to get that income flowing in consistently.

We also are working to bring all of our crew to the living wage by April 2016 – which means a series of increases so it doesn’t all hit at once.  It seems impossible to run an ethical business when our paid workers, however dedicated and willing, are paid below the National Living (as opposed to minimum) wage – a wage calculated on actual living costs – and we can’t keep doing this.

Our target for Patrons is to get 300 people giving an average of £5 per month, which is £1500.  This will cover both our current shortfall and the increase in wages.

Honestly?  We need those extra 170 people.  130 have signed up so far, and it’s helping immensely.  It’s so hard to say ‘but we need the other 170’ without sounding churlish and ungrateful.

We are SO very appreciative of every penny anyone spends or donates here.  We are so committed to delivering the very best value for every one of those pennies, encouraging creativity and making a space where people can truly spread their wings and change their lives for the better.

In order for this to be viable, long term, we need that extra income from Patrons.  We have tried everything else, but staying ethical, affordable and financially viable takes some extra, imaginative effort.

If you can help out with a regular, small donation every month please click here

If you have anything you can donate one-off right now, please click here

If you (like me!) are short of cash but not short of support, please share this here on Twitter or here on on Facebook

Thanks so much for reading!

Posted in Uncategorized

We have 130 Patrons!

A quick fundraising update from our appeal for 300 Patrons to stablise the income of The Art House and ensure our future.

Huge thanks to all who have contributed so far!

If you would like to find out more about becoming a Patron, click here.

Posted in Behind the scenes, Future plans, Getting involved, Our crew

Transfusions (Two different kinds.)

(By Bik)

As you may know by now, my Dad has an uninvited guest growing on his pancreas which was spotted fairly early, fortunately.  You may have read about it when we put out our call for Patrons at the start of the summer.

He is undergoing a pounding by some petty potent chemotherapy that isn’t commonly used for this in the UK, especially for an 83 year old. The result of his half-way scan is that it appears to be under arrest (well it’s the same size and when he started, which is a good thing!) I thought the photo, attached, would be appropriate .. we found his old policeman’s helmet in a cupboard!

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It’s pretty tough going for someone so active as he, as the drug is known to cause increasing fatigue. So Dad’s had to give up one of his three beloved organic allotment plots that he’s tended for 40 years and maybe another soon. Hopefully he’ll hang on to the one with the apple tree and fruit bushes.

I’d never thought about donated blood being used to help people on chemo until he was offered two units recently to help him get some energy back. This transfusion will hopefully help get him through the summer and his second round of treatments at QA. I’m so eternally grateful to the stranger/s who went out of there way one day to give blood to someone they didn’t know. A pure and selfless act. (You can join the blood donor register here:http://www.blood.co.uk/)

During all of this, The Art House has also been receiving a transfusion, this time of money, in the form of monthly donations of between £5 and £50 from around 130 of you.. some people we know very well and some, relative strangers, people who have told us they would like to visit more often if they could, but can’t, but like that we’re here anyway and want us to stay that way and to continue being a business that makes choices with our hearts first, and the balance sheet second.

Click here if you are interested in become a Patron

This summer we would normally be running a funded project to help people less fortunate access the arts, and the funding would close our annual £7k ‘hole’ that we always seem to have after the summer downturn. But my Dad has taken priority this year which is why we have turned to our friends and asked for help; and you have responded amazingly.. but we still need more. The donations so far have helped us out of some scrapes already, but there are some pretty hefty bills looming, so if you think you can find a spare £1.25 a week to help us out, you have no idea how much of a relief that would be right now.

You can find out a little more about why we need funding, and a link to get you set up, here:

If you are interested in more background to the reasons why our costs are considerably higher than most businesses of a similar nature, we have written about this here

Don’t worry if you can’t afford to commit to making donations right now. There are lots of other ways you can help (maybe you could write a TripAdvisorreview, consider volunteering, share our events on your timeline or just come and visit sometime.)

Posted in Uncategorized