Community rallies round for crowdfunder to keep free art gallery sessions open
FAMILIES showed their support for a crowdfunding campaign to raise £4,500 to keep a free art workshop running every week.
With funds dwindling, bosses at the Aspex gallery at Gunwharf Quays, in Old Portsmouth, called on the community to show their support to maintain the venue’s popular Family Saturdays programme – one of the only free activities for children to do in the city.
The free sessions led by local artists have welcomed thousands of visitors of all ages since it was launched in 2016 – with the aim of introducing art to the masses.
In that time more than 3,000 children and their parents have been been able to express their creative side through the power of art, set in the magnificent gallery.
Speaking at the launch of the hub’s month-long crowdfunding campaign, which runs for 27 days, donors will get the chance to win rewards such as bespoke pieces of art from city talents.
Aspex director Joanne Bushnell said: ‘This is the first time we’ve done anything like this to raise funds. We are optimistic about raising the money we need to keep the gallery running for free.
‘The place is mobbed with people who have turned out in support for the crowdfunding launch but it is busy every week. If everyone who has used the gallery since we launched in 2016 put in £1 we will be able to stay open for free for the next year without a problem.
‘We offer free art activities which is something that is valued by a lot of people. We are an inclusive charity and it’s good to offer people something that is free for everyone.’
The event was supported by a number of organisations including the Kings Theatre, Parenting Network, Pontoon and Portsmouth Pride.
Financial contributions made toward Aspex’s campaign will go twice as far as they are set to be match-funded by Arts Council England, through its Catalyst: Evolve drive.
Lord mayor of Portsmouth, councillor Lee Mason, was also on hand to greet visitors and see the project in action.
Parents enjoyed the occasion. Katie and James Buckley said: ‘It’s been really fun. It’s great to have something like this for free that helps kids learn new skills and improve their creativity.
‘It’s a good idea for single parents as well with it being very sociable and a great place to meet other parents.’
Mum Elena Olesak said: ‘It’s amazing, my children love it here. We come every week. I hope it stays free but I would pay to come here.’
Parent Anna Leimeter added: ‘My son looks forward to coming here every week. They do so many fun things and it’s different every week.’
The crowdfunder for Family Saturdays will close at 10am on Saturday, May 25.
The social media hashtag #SaveFamilySaturdays can be used to harness ongoing discussion about the event online, as well as the campaign to save it.