Brighton’s contemporary art gallery Fabrica has launched a crowdfunding appeal #KEEPFABRICA in the wake of funding cuts.
The charity needs to raise £20,000 by March 8. It is offering a host of rewards in return for support, including original artwork and the opportunity to host a private screening in its 200-year-old Regency building.
Despite launching just days ago the #KEEPFABRICA crowdfunding page has already received a huge amount of support.
“We have just been absolutely overwhelmed by the responses that we have had,” said Anne Rupert from Fabrica.
“We are just so bowled over and buoyed up by the success of the campaign.
“It has been absolutely wonderful and even though it was really hard work to get the campaign together, seeing the reaction has been so worth it.”
Until last year Fabrica received a £20,000 regular grant from Brighton & Hove City Council.
However, in January 2017 it was told a bid to renew the grant had been unsuccessful.
Despite cutting costs, the charity is facing a gap in finances. Now it is calling on art lovers to help keep the invaluable facility open.
Director Liz Whitehead said: “In previous years, a £20,000 gap would not have been such a big deal.
“But like many other arts organisations we’ve really felt the impact of austerity on our fundraising over the past year – it’s become so much more competitive and fewer of our bids have been successful.
“We’ve cut our staffing bill but due to associated redundancy costs the full impact of this won’t be felt until April 2018.
“Although we’re raising much more profit from commercial activities like venue hire, we haven’t been able to raise enough income to make up for the loss of our council grant.
“Our reserves simply can’t take a £20,000 hit this financial year so if our appeal is unsuccessful, we will be forced to cut our programmes and we might lose some of the activities that people can access for free or at low cost.
“This really saddens me because Fabrica is all about reducing barriers to contemporary art – and if you’re on a low income, cost is a major barrier.”
Draw-A-Thon and Writers’ Relay
A sponsored Draw-A-Thon and Writers’ Relay will be held at the gallery on February 24 to help raise funds.
Organised by poet Jackie Wills and artist Jane Fordham, it will see around 40 artists drawing non-stop for five hours while up to 30 writers take part in relays of 30 minutes each.
Everyone taking part has committed to raising at least £100 in sponsorship.
The idea was inspired by Jackie’s 2016 Poem-A-Thon which raised £30,000 for the Refugee Council.
“There was no way we were going to be able to put something as complex as that on in the time we had,” she said.
“But we wanted to do some kind of ‘thon’.
“It was Jane who first came up with the idea of artists drawing non-stop but we wondered how we could include writers. We didn’t think it would be feasible for writers to write non-stop but then we came up with the idea for the relay.
“Although it is a visual arts gallery, Fabrica has had writers in residence and exhibited written word pieces so we wanted to incorporate that.”
Jane describes Fabrica as a ‘portal’ between Brighton and amazing visual arts projects from around the world and said any cuts to its programmes would be a huge loss to the city.
“Fabrica is just unique, I say that as an artist and as a member of the audience,” she said.
“Fabrica works with artists in a way that I have never come across in any other gallery anywhere. The whole purpose of it is to explore art and philosophy and life.”
She believes having an experimental space, exploring themes which others leave untouched, is hugely important to the artistic community.
Writing as a performance
Writers taking part in the Draw-A-Thon and Writers’ Relay will create around three themes – Brighton People, The Gift and Drawing the Line.
Each will write live for 30 minutes with their work projected live above them.
“I am hoping that it is going to be really exciting but also creatively challenging,” said Jackie.
Participants include former Brighton mayor Bill Randall, historians, creative writers and journalists.
“Writers are solitary beings, writers do not write in public,” said Jackie.
“Even if you are in a café you are still in your own little world and nobody can see what you are writing.
“The fun of this is the public can wander in and see what someone is writing live, spelling and grammatical mistakes and all.
“I think that is an exciting part of it because it turns writing into a performance just for the day.”
Every artist taking part on the day has agreed to create for the entire five hours.
They will only be allowed to use graphite and will have one piece of paper to work with.
Artists working on collaborative projects will have larger pieces of paper.
“They are only going to be able to use restricted materials because there are so many people in the room and also I wanted to level the playing field and give everyone a challenge,” said Jane.
Two models and a selection of still-life objects will be available for inspiration.
“It is going to be amazing seeing the different artists’ approaches,” said Jane.
“It is a challenge but I am hoping the artists will really enjoy it because it is not often you get a day dedicated to something like this.”
Jane hopes it will be ‘an incredible event’.
“Most of the people coming work in their studios alone, not many sit down and work next to or collaboratively with other artists and they definitely don’t do it with people watching.”
The Draw-A-Thon and Writers’ Relay will take at Fabrica on Saturday, February 24, from 11am to 4pm. Anyone is welcome to go along to watch the artists and writers at work.
There are still a limited number of places for writers to take part in the relay. Anyone who is interested should email firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.
To sponsor any of the writers or artists, visit www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/fabrica/fabricamarathon2018
More than a gallery
Fabrica has been at the heart of the Brighton community for 22 years.
Started in 1996 by four artists, including present director Liz Whitehead, it is an integral part of the city’s art scene.
Every year it presents three major contemporary installations. Past exhibitions include work by Anish Kapoor, Martin Parr, Brian Eno and Janet Cardiff.
Alongside this it also delivers a range of community outreach activities for some of the city’s most vulnerable people.
The arts charity set up Brighton’s Men’s Shed in 2017 as part of the city’s suicide prevention framework.
It regularly hosts Chomp, a free lunch and arts club for low-income families.
It provides opportunities for 200 volunteers every year, more than 20 per cent of whom have a disability.
Although Fabrica receives regular funding from Arts Council England this covers less than half its expenditure.
Funding levels have also stayed the same since 2012 meaning arts organisations are facing real-terms year-on-year cuts.
Combined with the loss of the Brighton grant, this has put the charity’s future in an uncertain position.
Liz said: “Because of our depleted reserves, our board may decide that it is too risky to keep the organisation afloat if we end the year with a deficit.
“This would be a massive loss and we’re determined not to let this happen.”
You can donate to the #KEEPFABRICA campaign online here.
Artists, publishers, writers and businesses have donated rewards for anyone donating to the campaign.
Pledge £40 and you will can claim a Fabrica Art Pack. Pledge £400 and enjoy a private film screening in the gallery for you and up to 30 friends.
A full list of rewards is on the #KEEPFABRICA page.
Spectrum Photographic is donating the printing for the fundraising campaign. If you pledge £100 you can choose from one of four A3 Fabrica exhibition archive images printed by Spectrum.
“We have enjoyed working with Fabrica for many years and wanted to do whatever we could to support the #KEEPFABRICA campaign,” said co-owner Klair Bird.
“The gallery is a huge part of Brighton’s vibrant art community, important not just to established artists but people who might otherwise struggle to access the arts.
“It is great to see that community coming together now to support the gallery.”
To learn more about the gallery and its community outreach work visit www.fabrica.org.uk.
Main image: The Blue Route by Kaarina Kaikkonen
Copy by Sheena Campbell