The Arts Lodge is a great little cafe & arts resource in Victoria Park in the centre of Portsmouth, that has for a long time been both a place people can grab something to eat and enjoy the park and also a home for arts exhibitions, music events, workshops and more. Run by Art & Soul Traders cooperative (the guys behind the large mural on The Strand in Southsea), the arts venue turned a run down building and corner of the park in to a hive of creative activity throughout their 16 years years, all run as a not-for-profit social enterprise. You can read an in depth interview with Mark Lewis about the history of the Arts Lodge, from 2015 over on the Go On Go Out website, to find out more.
Late last week word quickly went around on social media that the Arts Lodge was now under threat, with Portsmouth City Council aiming to terminate their lease as the contract approaches a five-year break clause, giving 8 months notice to leave. PCC wish to continue as a café with an arts facility, run by adults with learning disabilities as a social enterprise giving them the opportunity to learn new skills.
In a matter of days a petition on Change.org has amassed over 4,000 signatures asking for PCC to review this decision and allow the Arts Lodge to continue. Mark Lewis has since been interviewed by BBC radio and Solent TV and is set to have a meeting with Portsmouth City Council at 1pm this Friday, to discuss the issue. There are plans for a peaceful rally to show support for the Arts Lodge, at the Guildhall Square from 12:15pm, where people will also be collecting signatures and raising awareness. You can also get involved from 11am in helping make banners, etc.
The Change.org online petition is HERE but there is talk about issues regarding the submission of Change.org petitions in regards to council decisions, so an alternative has been created HERE too (currently just under 200 signatures).
We should point out that at the same time as this news came out, we had just launched the final report for the Creative Census, which actually includes within it analysis and statements that actually show a need for more arts based locations, like the Arts Lodge, in the city:
Page 42: “When asked whether Portsmouth required any ‘additional resources’ for business, 66% of respondents replied that it did…involving the provision of space, a further 30% mentioned the need for more ‘exhibition/retail/performance space’. In particular, better quality physical spaces from which to exhibit and sell their work was thought to be essential amongst these respondents. ”
If you want to find out more about what the Arts Lodge is all about and what events and activities they have running, then visit:
(Photo from www.socialenterprise.org.uk)