(Not?) The Last Art House Fundraiser

Call it a day or make one last big push?

Since 2008, The Art House Southampton CIC (“a Community Interest Company is a business with social objectives whose surpluses are reinvested for that purpose rather than profits for shareholders and owners”) has been a vibrant grassroots hub of creativity in the city serving the community and providing a fertile ecosystem for world-changing ideas. We’ve hosted thousands of events, exhibitions, meetups, groups and workshops covering everything from swapping seeds to musical theatre to drawing.

So after twelve years of joy, stress, inspiration and a large helping of “WTF?”, The Art House finds itself at a crossroads. We are, first and foremost, a venue for the arts – rarely a profitable option – too small to attract most arts funding. When we set out in 2008, our model was to self-fund through sales from our café, topped up with donations from our community and by volunteers doing some of the roles.


thermometer (6)

For 10 years, 85% café income and 15% income from donations worked. Last year, things looked different. Despite the generosity of many of you, last year’s fundraising fell £10k short of target. Alongside this, the upsurge in cafes in our area and the increased availability of vegan food meant our café did not do as well as it needed to.

This brings us to our current hard choice. *Call it a day* or make *one last big push* for donations along with a restructuring of the business, with less emphasis on being a place to eat and more focus on what we’re all about – the art, the creative writing, theatre and community, campaign groups and music.

We don’t want to close our doors during times like these when we must pull together in our little communities to protect the vulnerable, to keep the flame of hope and creativity alive. We don’t want to close the café side, either, but it needs to work better and be simpler to give us time to run more of what we know you, our community, really need – accessible, affordable arts events in a space that is inclusive and safer than most places. 

So here’s what we need from you. If we can give our income at the start of 2020 an extra boost and implement our new venue and events-centered business plan, then we can take The Art House to the next stage, reorganise and reinvigorate the project and keep running.

¦¦¦ We need to raise £25.000 by the end of February 2020 ¦¦¦

  • Make a one-off donation with PayPal.
  • Support us regularly for as little as £2 a month by joining our Patreon community
  • Switch your energy provider to Ecotricity who will donate up to £70 back to us.
  • Go old skool with BACS:

    The Art House Southampton
    Sort code 089299
    Account no. 65287334, (The Co-operative Bank)

Most of all, hard as it has been sometimes, we know how much love the city has for this place, and how important we’re been in many people’s lives – perhaps we’ve made a difference in your lifeOn a personal level, the directors also need to rediscover the excitement and pleasure running this project brought us in the early days, and not being able to dynamically shift what we focus on has been preventing us from doing that.

If you agree that this space still has a lot to offer the city, please consider either a one-off contribution or a regular monthly donation. Every single penny will be put to work right away, and we hope the past 12 years of art, weirdness and joy that you’ve experienced here is proof of that.

The funds raised will help cover our basic running costs like rent, rates, utilities, and insurance … as well as keeping us in good repair.


More about why we fundraise.

Many of the people who find our space a vital oasis and sanctuary in these times have been hit by austerity and do not have a lot of money to spend – which is why we ask for donations to top up our income from the cafe and ticket sales. We’ll let a young person who uses our space tell you what it means to them, as they put it so much better than we can:

“This has always been a safe place for me.

Socialising is hard for myself and coming even if I’m not meeting anyone in particular is a joy as it feels like home and I can be myself and relax. Not to mention great food! Never fails to impress, to joining in at crafty cafe with the fabulous Gill to drawing and being at the clothes swap this year had such a wonderful atmosphere everyone was so happy and open!

I came here 4 years ago 2019 will be my fifth wow time does fly, money is pretty tight at the moment so I will give when I can. Thank you for everything everyone and to our lovely Art House.”


Donations are used very quickly and directly to keep our doors open – they enable us to cover our running costs, promote our events, improve our space and keep going so that we are here for those who need us.

The Art House does things differently.  We have high standards of quality and ethics in our food and drink, right from the start of the supply chain to the way things are prepared on-site.

We offer organic, fair trade, and locally sourced produce as much as possible – not just a few token items for marketing purposes but almost everything meets these standards. Basically, if there is an ethical choice, we choose it. To ensure growers are properly paid, our food supplies cost 80 – 100% more than most cafes and restaurants.

At the same time, we want to be accessible to as many people as possible. We believe that it’s not radical or revolutionary to open our doors only to those who are relatively well-off and many of the people to whom we are a lifeline don’t have a large income to spend here. So our prices are comparable with other places that do not hold to the same standards we do.

In order to afford to do this, we also have a team of volunteers who help in the cafe and kitchen.  This helps to enable us to offer quality food and drink for a comparable price to any other local cafe.  We also allow groups to use the space for events, meetings, workshops and performances for a reduced rate – in some cases by donation.

We receive little funding from Government or The Arts Council (or anyone else) for our day-to-day running costs.  It costs us about £1.25 per minute to stay open and almost ALL of that money comes from you, the people who use us, topped up by donations.

Patrons and people making one-off donations aren’t just an optional extra for us. They are part of our business plan, and without this support, The Art House cannot exist.


Can you show your support with a donation?  You’d be surprised the difference it can make.

  • £40 would pay our rent for today
  • £20 would pay for our recycling and other waste collection this week
    (We pay extra to recycle more than any other cafe business in our area.)
  • £15 would pay our electricity bill for today (we use Ecotricity by the way.)
  • £10 would cover our phone bill for this week (we use The Phone Co-op.)

We know that many of the people who love us aren’t wealthy, but we believe in the power of lots of small acts of generosity – just £1 helps! Your donations = love and your love is what keeps our doors open. We don’t get funding for our running costs from anyone but you, the people who support us.

  • Make a one-off donation with PayPal.
  • Support us regularly for as little as £2 a month by joining our Patreon community
  • Switch your energy provider to Ecotricity who will donate up to £70 back to us.
  • Go old skool with BACS:

    The Art House Southampton
    Sort code 089299
    Account no. 65287334, (The Co-operative Bank)

Thank you from the Directors, Jani, Devin, Bik and Ziggy.

The Art House is not-for-profit and all the income we make goes back into meeting our aims.   There are no owners or shareholders taking a cut, it all goes back into the necessities of keeping us open.

1 Response to (Not?) The Last Art House Fundraiser

  1. Pingback: Local writer Nazneen Ahmed shares why she is supporting our Fundraiser | The Art House

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