An update: we are going to have food to collect next Saturday! A step towards letting people back in, we are still proceeding cautiously for the safety of our crew, volunteers and customers but moving towards opening our doors once more.
Good news about funding for arts organisations including smal venues, we are working with the Music Venue Trust to apply for support to allow us to run socially distanced gigs with live streaming, a kind of hybrid between what we did before and during lockdown. We also are waiting on government guidelines on setting up our space for audiences and performers.
Lots going on behind the scenes to rearrange, clear out old things we don’t need and plan for the future.
These times are uncertain and we know a lot of you are still shielding, self isolating and staying home (thank you!) so whatever we do, we want to support that and not push or rush to open for the sake of it.
We do really miss you though. Take care, stay well and safe – lots of love from all of us ❤️
Last week was a good chance for a proper clear out – thanks Devin for rehoming furniture and crockery/kitchenware to folks who needed it and John for sorting the basement and kitchen! We feel ready for a new month and a new start now 🙂
Good news last night about funding for arts venues has lifted our spirits. We are waiting on safety guidelines and dates for reopening venues now, in the meantime food deliveries are go for this week and we’re starting food collections next weekend 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻
Keeping on keeping on folks. Sending you all love ❤️❤️❤️
Although pubs, cafes etc have been given the go-ahead to open from 4 July, we will continue with our delivery service and online events for the time being.
We are primarily a performance venue and community meeting space and neither of these activities are permitted under the new guidelines, which prohibit performances and don’t allow groups from different households to sit together.
Our aim continues to be to support people to #stayhome as much as possible with our food to go and online events.
We are reviewing our ‘Art House To Go’ menu next week and planning a collection service from mid July so you can drop by and fetch food to take away, no contact and outside only for now.
Summer is traditionally a quieter time for us, so we want to take the next 6-8 weeks to repurpose and remodel The Art House.
That was our plan at the end of our fundraiser back in February, so we are going to go ahead and re-vision! Our community is going to need our space in the months and years ahead, especially given the ongoing pandemic, and we want to be here for you.
You can support The Art House during this phase of our story by……
Ordering Art House To Go or paying forward some food for other people:
Just had a long term supporter of The Art House say he’s not supporting us any more because I was visibly angry at a TERF on one of our posts a few days back (and I was angry, very). Here is my reply, I doubt it will make any difference to him but maybe it will reach somebody else out there who is having some kind of feels about angry trans people:
I can understand how you feel but please take a moment to reflect that transphobia directly impacts two of our directors and many, many of our staff and volunteers. It is unreasonable to expect people under attack to be polite and nice. Trans people are hurting right now and what look like ‘innocent’ remarks to you are anything but – those attacking our community are very skilled at appearing reasonable (much as racists have learnt to hide behind politeness).
I did get very angry at the ridiculous backlash to that post (I hid most of the comments, there were quite a few more and I didn’t have the energy to tackle every one of them).
I have reflected on how I reacted. I don’t think I made our space unsafe for anyone who doesn’t make it unsafe for me or my staff. I’m sorry you can’t see that and I’m learning all the time how to fight these battles in the best way. A true ally honours the hurt and anger a community feel, you don’t abandon us the moment we don’t fit your ideas of ‘kindness’ toward those who are coming at us. That’s called tone policing and it isn’t supportive.
The reason JK Rowling is a particularly clever person for these groups to have recruited – and recruited her they most certainly have – is because she is a ‘nice white lady’ of the best kind. Many (including you) relate to her and will want to defend her. It seems to have worked in your case and probably in many others.
What you can’t see is that today the Times has leaked government plans to roll back trans rights, including laws to prevent trans women using women’s toilets. Can you imagine? JK Rowling has played a part in setting the stage for that and I can’t forgive her, I am furious, I don’t know how I can feel any other way.
(name redacted), you need to support LGBTQ+ people not only when we’re having a fun rainbow pride party, but when we are at the pointy end, the messy end, the bit where tempers flare and feelings run high. Pride started at Stonewall. It was a riot, they threw things, they were angry, I don’t think you would have liked it.
But that’s how we won the rights we have. It isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always Lady Gaga tributes and rainbow flags.
I’m glad you enjoyed Pride. Shame you can’t stick around for this next bit – because we intend to win and make a better world for absolutely everyone. Yourself included.
The Art House doors won’t be opening again until it is safe to open.
Our aim at the present moment is to empower and support people to #stayhome as much as possible by bringing meals, entertainment and connection from our house to yours.
We are exploring ways of running a food collection service in the future and of streaming live streaming gigs from our premises. We are part of a campaign to pedestrianise Above Bar Street so we could perhaps have tables outside with social distancing.
We do none of this without careful planning and thought and we will not be rushed. We do not want to play any part in a resurgence of this virus, so any steps towards reopening will be done with our crew (some of whom are medically vulnerable) and our community safety as the leading priority.
We long to reopen, we miss you all so much, when we reopen we want everyone to be alive and well to return to us – that means waiting for now. The virus is still out there, there is no vaccine, there is no reliable treatment, people are still dying and some people are very poorly.
Looking ahead, the feedback we have had on how online gigs and deliveries have reached people not usually able to access The Art House has really made us think about how we extend beyond our four walls (if we still have them) when all social distancing measures are no longer needed.
Our future planning will include live streams and food to go. We also want to keep the tiered pricing / pay it forward / pay as you feel aspect of our lockdown phase.
We want to let this pandemic change us in good ways to serve our community better. “Something good will come of this” – as our friend Henry Baroche sings.
You can support The Art House during this phase of our story by……
Ordering Art House To Go or paying forward some food for other people:
A little reminder that we aren’t just a café, that we exist as a place to promote grassroots art and positive social change and we’re always going to speak up on important issues, justice, oppression, the rise of the far right, climate change, racism, homophobia, ableism, transphobia and quite a lot else.
We are not party political (our crew members support a number of political parties and some support none of them), but we are not apolitical, because we believe that to be ‘neutral’ in the current climate is a political statement in itself.
To be silent is to say we agree things should stay as they are. We don’t.
We don’t think the current system is the best option for human health, happiness and security.
We don’t think the current system maximises human potential.
We don’t think the current system is viable for our planet’s overall health or for our own health, mental and physical.
We recognise that the current system unfairly privileges some and deliberately oppresses, harms and marginalises others. We believe this reality to be harmful to all members of society, but in particular to those most pushed to the edges.
We don’t think the current system is just or fair to non-human animals or to ecosystems.
We want things to change.
We exist to use art and coming together as a community around creativity and food to facilitate that change.
We’re not just about complaining about the current state of things but about modelling and exploring new ways of being.
We stand at an important crossroads in history and even a little place like ours has a part to play. Even a little place like ours has a duty to use our platform to share information, to encourage and support, to call out wrongdoing.
Even in the middle of this pandemic, we continue to push ourselves to operate in a more just, open and radical way. Even when it is hard (it is) and even when we get flack for doing so (we do).
Look folks. There are places you can just go and enjoy a coffee and not engage with larger social and environmental matters. We are not such a place. We’ve never been such a place.
We hope to be able to gather in person again soon, but for now we’re using our voice on social media to continue our mission, we’re bringing people together in online events and we’re bringing food to people in our community each week in the most accessible way we can manage.
If you want to be a part of us lighting up our little corner of the world, you can support us in a number of ways to help ensure we reopen at the end of lockdown:
Well one benefit to Lockdown has been that i’ve really been able to put some quality time into the plot this year – spending between 90 mins and 2 hours here 3 sometimes 4 times a week. My heart sings when i see the tulips and iris i planted last year pop up and bloom…ive kept a patch on the pond clear for pond skaters to maraud up and down on, the weeds are well managed, and there are so many strawbs 🙂
I must confess its been a bit of a task keeping the paths weed free (as per Allotment Rules) as my plot neighbour at no 8 is absent again this year (and the plot holder on 7 is nowhere in sight 😦 plus the plot holder on the plot directly at the end of mine.. i havent seen since last year… i am hoping its cos of shielding or self-isolation etc.
Anyhoo. A lovely packet of seeds arrived from Dobies today – containing such treasures as purple tomatillo, Borlotto beans, sweetcorn, salsify, rainbow chard, and brussels sprouts ‘rubine’ have helped me to refocus on what i can achieve and never mind what anyone else is or is not doing.
Off again tomorrow to finish sorting out the pathway at the end of the plot, and marking out where my plot ends. The extensive clearing John and I have done at the bottom end of the plot has resulted in at least another 6ft x 3ft patch of growing space, which is not to be sniffed at. 🙂
And Friday John has promised to fix the shed door 🙂 yay!
It feels like a few lifetimes ago we sent out an email to say that our fundraiser had been a success. To those who have supported us and helped us reach that goal – know that your funds have been put to immediate and excellent use to help us navigate the global crisis that impacted us and everyone else in March. Some people expressed sympathy that our closure came right after our successful fundraiser, but in most ways this was perfect timing for us,
Thanks to having the reserve we’d aimed for, we were able to close as soon as government advice said to people not to gather in pubs, even though we were not given the order to close for nearly a week after that.
Thanks to having the reserve, we were able to all quarantine for a full 14 days to ensure that none of us had become ill through working with the public – we are all fine by the way.
Thanks so having the reserve, we were able to plan this next stage with plenty of regard for our own mental health, the mental health of our paid crew and we’ve been able to offer our paid crew options for whilst we are closed. Some have opted to be furloughed, one has taken early retirement and two of our crew are going to work to help us to this next stage. We also will have somebody new working with us! We’ll reveal more later 🙂
Thanks to the reserve, we have been able to wait. To wait to see what our community needed, to wait to see what we can provide. Without the fundraiser, we would have had to close immediately – now we are re-purposing and planning to offer something new for the future (well, we did say we wanted to!).
This past month we have continued to run some of our programme online and will keep doing this, so please do check the events out below. Watch our Facebook page for updates, as this is where we are most active,
Next week, we move towards trialling a new service – providing meals and provisions to our community. An ‘Art House to go’ so to speak. Longer term we are looking to add crafty kits and other goodies to these deliveries.
Our plan is to do these differently from commercial takeaways – for starters, we do not wish to be open for takeout collection, and we ideally do not wish to use the gig economy (Uber eats, Deliveroo) for our deliveries, as this clashes with our values.
We are exploring tiered pricing and pay-as-you-feel or pay-it-forward options to allow those who are still earning to support the more vulnerable. We are looking to eliminate many allergens from our kitchen to support those with special dietary needs who are currently struggling to access food.
Bik and I have been in preparing the space, extending the kitchen into the upstairs area so that staff can work socially distanced and safely.
Next week is all about trying this out and not overloading ourselves, which would compromise the long term viability and safety of what we’re planning. We’ll be in touch on Monday or Tuesday with a limited number of delivery slots, open initially to our Patrons, friends, volunteer crew, regulars and people who donated to the fundraiser. If you are one of these – keep an eye out for our emails!
Please bear with us as we adjust to this new way of working, as we are sure you are adjusting to many new things at the moment.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, we hope that whether you are off work, working from home, home educating, caring, volunteering or a keyworker, you are staying well and safe. We want to support you any way we can.
Lots of love from Jani, Bik, Zigz, Devin and the crew
WE DID IT! In February 2020 we raised an amazing £25000 to meet our shortfall for 2019-20 and save our venue, plus give us breathing room for making changes to our business model and secure our future.
A big part of that model will be community support just like the fundraiser – in the form of regular donations via PayPal or Patreon, in-person donations, fundraising gigs and other measures to raise the money it costs to open our venue.
This week highlighted how vulnerable and unsustainable our previous model of relying on café income to fund our space is, with a huge drop in customers due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This looks likely to impact us and many other venues for some time to come.
We will be holding an online art auction, a raffle and are looking at online events we could run to keep providing art and connection to our community whilst all of this is going on.
A lot is uncertain and evolving all the time.
What we do know is that, without the generosity of our community in February, we would be facing a serious crisis right now. Our hand-to-mouth existence would have meant we needed to make up a shortfall for this week alone and for weeks or months to come .
So, we continue to ask our community to support us in any way you can, be it a small one-off donation or a regular contribution.