Arts Impact Fund The loan will allow the organisation to grow…
Arts Impact Fund
The art-focused community cafe will use the loan to expand its offer across two new sites.
Ever fancied seeing some painting or sculpture happening at the same time as you sip your cappuccino? If you’re intrigued by this prospect, head on down to the artFix cafe on bustling Powis Street in Woolwich. Started by solicitor-turned-entrepreneur George Neris in 2009 in Athens, artFix is now a rapidly growing venture that’s arrived in South East London via Oxford Street.
artFix’s core business is good coffee – a cafe where artworks by local professional and amateur artists are displayed and can be bought, and the artists themselves can demonstrate what it’s like to make their work. In the evenings, the space is also used for live music and poetry readings, so the venture is very much about making artistic activities more accessible to everyday people on the high street.
Exhibition, meeting and workspaces are also key to artFix. These can be hired out by artists, sole-traders and local groups – for free where there’s no ability to pay, or for a small fee when there is. Activities hosted include art classes, film-screenings, capoeira and yoga. Between 2017-2019, over half of its events its events and workshops have been either free or less than £5 to attend.
Beyond making everyday arts accessible, artFix is also about creating inclusive and participatory spaces that engage local communities and give voice to vulnerable social groups through collaborative programming and community arts projects. A Day in the Life is one such project that’s been delivered by artFix funded through a small grant from Greenwich Borough Council. The project engaged six artists across different disciplines (creative writing, poetry, visual arts, printmaking) to facilitate workshops for groups and individuals from the area to create an artistic representation of what it is like to live and work in Woolwich, culminating in a community showcase.
Beyond making everyday arts accessible, artFix is also about creating inclusive and participatory spaces that engage local communities and give voice to vulnerable social groups through collaborative programming and community arts projects.
With artFix’s work being recognised by the local council as well as property developers interested in building communities within their residential sites, a number of expansion opportunities arose for the business. Capital was needed to fund the start-up costs of potential new sites and manage cashflows for the first few months of trading. After scrutinising the business viability of the existing site and financial projections, the Arts Impact Fund offered a loan of £200,000 to expand into two new sites. The finance will pay for fit-out, purchase of equipment and provide working capital as the new outposts get up to speed.
Because so much of the business’s success to date has been dependent on its founder George, we invited him to meet and take questions from the Arts Impact Fund’s investment committee – something that we don’t always do. The committee was particularly interested in the steps that will be taken to demonstrate the venture’s social impact – over the lifetime of the investment, steps will be taken to more accurately map out specific benefits of artFix on its users, as well as a framework for tracking progress to the outcomes. In this way, the business will be better able to articulate the value that it brings to both corporate and community stakeholders.