The Cafe Art 2017 MyLondon calendar is a social enterprise initiative for London homelessness art groups and individuals who have been affected by homelessness.
In July this year, at St Paul’s Cathedral, 105 FujiFilm single-use cameras were handed out to people affected by homelessness, with the theme "My London". Training on how to use the cameras was given by The Royal Photographic Society [The RPS] in June, and again on the day of the handout.
It's a follow-up to the successful 2016 calendar that went viral last year. It resulted in partnerships with projects around the world. As well as running MinhaSao Paulo in Brazil in November with With One Voice, we are helping several other cities including MySydney, MyBudapest, MyNew Orleans who are all doing calendars this year and MyToronto which will launch in 2017. All projects are grass-roots run and funded locally, and we encourage people to support them too!
Last year we aimed to raise £4,500 to pay for the first instalment of the printing and production costs. Thanks to the success we were able to raise £17,500 which covered the printing costs and exhibition framing costs in full. We know that going viral at the right time was a huge help, and we don't take anything for granted so we have set our Kickstarter goal at £5,000 this year.
Photography mentoring for the photographers
Because of the success, in London we we were able to launch a photography mentoring program for the photographers. The group meets in the Qbic Hotel in East London with mentoring from volunteers from The Royal Photographic Society every two weeks and they are able to learn how to use digital photography with cameras donated by FujiFilm. This success in setting up new photography training is a direct result of The RPS, especially Neil Cordell, and FujiFilm, but it was helped by last year's successful Kickstarter project in a huge way, which allowed us to focus on the participants affected by homelessness and how we can improve the project.
Cafe Art has several goals:
• To empower people affected by homelessness, not only through photography and art, but through connecting with the public.
• To tell the stories of individuals who are affected by homelessness,
• To raise awareness in the general public about issues from the participant’s personal perspective.
Since 2012 sales of calendars have raised more than £45,000 for art groups, artists and vendors, and to sustain the project itself. Last year's Kickstarter for the 2016 calendar went viral worldwide and enabled us to print the calendar, frame the exhibition and reimburse the photographers.
This year we want to do it again but, first, we have to print the 2017 calendar and to do that we need your support.
My London is a quality product - a real art calendar, with FSC certified paper and designed for free by top London graphic firm, Carter Wong Design. The contributors to the calendar - the winning photographers - all wrote or edited their own stories.
More than 2,400 votes were received for the top 20 photos at Spitalfields Arts Market in the first week of August 2016, with the public being asked to choose the best photos for the 2017 My London calendar.
The 2017 MyLondon calendar photos
The calendar is still in the production stage. Here are the 13 photographs chosen by public vote in Spitalfields Arts Market in early August.
Non calendar exhibition photos
The following 7 photos were chosen for the exhibition, but are not in the calendar. You can still order them as rewards. Like the other photos, 50% of the profit will go to the photographers (£8.50 per photo) with the rest going back to cover project costs.
From the 99 cameras returned to us in July, more than 5,000 photos were developed in black & white and colour. From these, 20 photos were chosen by the selection panel which included representatives from Amateur Photographer magazine, Christie’s, FujiFilm, The London Photo Festival, The Royal Photographic Society. Last year's People's Choice winner David Tovey decided not to compete in the contest this year and was asked to be a judge. Another new judge was renowned photographer Ken Lennox.
When the calendar is printed, we sell it for £9.99 in Spitalfields Market with the photographers and other people affected by homelessness who would like to gain work experience. The market table space is donated by Spitalfields E1 (this is the same market where we hold the pop-up exhibition in August and October).
Vendors who complete some basic sales training are given their first calendar and when they have sold it for £9.99 they can buy more for £5. This way they manage their own micro-business. They can sell calendars on their own, or join the supported environment of the MyLondon table in the market from October to January. The £5 received by Cafe Art goes directly to paying our remaining printing costs and towards other expenses.
Where does the money go?
It will cost us £12,000 to print 6,000 calendars. This is due in three instalments in October, November and December. We want to put the money raised on Kickstarter towards the first payment to the printer in October, as well as covering other launch costs (paying the photographers, framing the exhibition and mailing the Kickstarter rewards).
The calendar will be produced by PrintHouse Corporation, a London firm. This will support the local economy and will also reduce the environmental impact caused by shipping product from an overseas printer.
The project is self-funding from calendar sales only, and receives no government money. We are supported in kind by The RPS and FujiFilm and endorsed by Homeless Link, the umbrella organisation for homelessness charities and organisations.
All the money raised goes back into the project, either to pay for the printing of the photographs and calendar, rewarding the winning photographers, providing art materials for art groups affected by homelessness or helping individuals attend art courses.
Art is seen as a major way for people to recover from the trauma of being homeless.
Risks and challenges
This is the fourth My London calendar we have produced, so we are experienced in the process of writing, editing and printing the calendar. We know we need it ready for the week-long exhibition in Spitalfields Arts Market (10-16 October) so we have a fixed deadline for the launch. However we need to reach our Kickstarter target to confirm the final amount printed.
A challenge we have after we print the calendar is the same as the past three years: selling the remaining calendars in arts markets while providing work experience to people who have been and are homeless.
The challenge will be to increase the sales on last year when we sold 6,000 calendars. Last year's total was up from 4,500 sold in 2014 (33% increase).
This year we have decided to keep our goals modest: if we sell all 6,000 calendars, mostly for £10 each in the markets, we will equal last year's record. Last year, because we went "viral" online, we sold an extra 1,000 calendars. While we will approach all the previous buyers, we are not taking any support for granted. If this Kickstarter goes really well we will increase the print run to more than 6,000.
Last year we had a problem with calendars sent by surface mail to the USA and other countries. This year we will only send by airmail to every country.
Last year we received feedback that buyers wanted the calendar to be more protected than just a plastic wrapping: we are ordering strong cardboard envelopes this year.
Vendors affected by homelessness who want to sell the calendar for themselves will still be able to do so through the vendors programme: buying the calendar for £5 and selling it for £9.99.
The calendar revenue in the markets will go towards project expenses (the rest of the printing bill, food and transport costs for the vendors) and framing art by homeless people for cafes which is Cafe Art's main focus.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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