Croydon café crowdsources funds for new arts space

Pic courtesy of Saif Bonar

Croydon’s flagging arts scene could be rescued with funding crowdsourced by a local business. Matthews Yard, a café and workspace in the centre of Croydon, is using crowdfunding website Kickstarter to raise money for a new arts space on their premises.

There has been a huge void in the Croydon cultural scene since shows stopped at the Warehouse Theatre in May 2012.

Anyone aged over 18 is able to donate on the website, with pledges starting at £1. Contributors to the project will be named on a supporters’ wall in the new venue.

Saif Bonar, founder of Matthews Yard, has set an initial target of £5,000. That sum would fund a basic stage, green room and cover the installation of audiovisual equipment. Should that goal be achieved, Bonar will aim at raising a further £20,000 to fund a professional-standard theatre space.

He spoke to Eastlondonlines about the importance of community projects in the face of austerity: “While government budgets for arts and theatre are being slashed on a national and local level, communities need to come together through initiatives like this to fill the void that is left and ensure we don’t lose what makes Britain great – our creativity.”

Matthews Yard, found just off Surrey Street Market, already serves as a café and working space, allowing startups, entrepreneurs and freelancers to work at a low cost. Bonar envisages the cultural space working in much the same way.

Bonar said: “We hope to make the space more viable for Croydon’s theatre and community groups by not charging them for use, nor taking a cut of ticket sales. Our money will be made on the sale of food and drink only. This is a very different business model for theatre and should provide a more equitable and mutually beneficial relationship for all parties”.

Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform that has been running since 2009, focusing on individuals and businesses who are looking to secure funds for creative projects. It only became operational in the UK in October 2012, and in its first month alone raised over £2 million.

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