The Cafe Art 2020 MyLondon calendar is a social enterprise initiative for London homelessness art groups and individuals who have been affected by homelessness.
We are selling a beautiful quality wall calendar, printed in London. This year we're piloting a new desktop version. The prices are very affordable (£10/€10.90/US$12.20 for one calendar), in line with quality calendars sold in the UK. If you need it shipped, the price will be £14 to the UK, only about €17.50 to the EU and only about $22.50 to the US including shipping costs. The exchange rate will of course vary day to day.
The photographers (the participants) are contacted through London homeless charities, including Crisis, 240 Project, St Mungo's, SHP, C4WS Homeless Project, Barons Court Project, The Spires, The Passage, The One Housing, Pritchard's Road Day Centre and more. We rely heavily on the support workers in these projects.
In May this year, at St Paul’s Cathedral, 100 Fujifilm single-use cameras were handed out with the theme of the project being "My London". This is not a project about what homelessness looks like - it's a about what the photographers love about London.
Training on how to use the cameras was given by The Royal Photographic Society [The RPS] in April and again on the day of the handout.
We got back 88 cameras, had the film developed, and 20 of the photos were chosen by a selection panel for the exhibition. The selection panel was made up a mix of professional photographers and people who are involved with the homelessness sector, including Amateur Photographer magazine editor Ailsa McWhinnie, The Royal Photographic Society London chair Judy Hicks, The Royal Photographic Society volunteering manager Naomi Galliford, Jessops manager Viktor Vrab, Fujifilm UK photo imaging marketing executive Katie Coulson, Homeless Link head of member services Kate Alaway and former rough sleeper and now employee of Cafe Art James Gray. Of the 20 photos the panel chose, the 13 with the highest votes made it into the 2020 MyLondon calendar.
Many people discovered us when we went viral four years ago. MyLondon's Kickstarter success in 2015 and 2016 blew us away. This resulted in the project not only growing in London, but partnerships with projects around the world have also become possible. As well as running MinhaSao Paulo in Brazil in November 2015 with With One Voice, we are partner with several other cities including MySydney, MyBudapest run by the Budapest Bike Mafia, MyNew Orleans and MyToronto run by Ve'ahavta.
We don't spend money on the cameras as they were donated by Fujifilm UK. The film was processed and photos developed by Jessops for free. The calendar is being designed by CarterWong at no charge. From September we are allowed to help people affected by homelessness sell the calendar (in the same way as Big Issue vendors work for themselves) in Spitalfields E1 Arts Market from September to February.
We will use the profits from the Kickstarter to pay for the printing and postage of the rewards. More than 50% of the profits from the photo rewards will go to the individual photographers. The top 20 photographers all win £50 from taking part in this project, plus a copy of their winning photo (all 88 participants received their photos and were offered the chance to choose three photos for the exhibition). The photographers in the calendar win an additional £50 each, with two winners earning an additional £100 each (the judges' choice and the people's choice photos). All of the prize money comes from the sale for the calendar in the self-sustaining project.
2020 MyLondon calendars
The theme "MyLondon" is not what homelessness looks like - it's what the people taking the photos love about London.
As well as the traditional wall calendar, you can order the new desktop calendar.
The wall calendar page size is the standard 12" x 12" (300mm x 300mm). The new desktop version is 8" x 8" (200mm x 200mm).
Environmentally friendly (100% Plastic-free)
We will not use any single-use plastic to cover the calendars. We will supply strong cardboard envelopes to protect them when mailed. If you would like your calendar sent by surface mail (not airmail) just let us know.
This year we are printing the covers with a varnish cover, replacing a thin plastic coating that we have used in previous years.
The calendar months have a photo of the actual photographer. By introducing the photographers who have experienced homelessness, we are addressing the issue of homelessness in a subtle but positive way.
This year we decided to use the calendar layout used on computers and smart phones, with the weekend days of Saturday and Sunday at the end of the week. This design is standard in European countries. Many printed calendars in the UK and the US now use it. We have shaded the weekend to make the new layout more clear.
The new desktop design will be exactly the same, only 33% smaller. While the text will be proportionally smaller, it will still be very readable.
Please note our Cafe Art logo on UK bank (public) holidays: the coffee stain! You can add your own special days yourself.
The main photographs on each month of the calendar are accompanied by descriptions by the photographers. All have been affected by homelessness. They have had broken relationships, lost jobs and had mental health issues. If they feel comfortable speaking about what they have gone through they tell their story in the calendar. However, we always focus on the future - asking about what they are doing now or planning to do in the future.
Mohammad Hasan's story
What is your experience of homelessness? “It was a very difficult situation. I struggled a lot. It’s very difficult to explain the situation of homelessness because you are living on the street or if you don’t have any place to live then you can’t think [through] anything normally... It’s a very difficult situation to come back from this kind of problem. I’m struggling."
What are you focusing on now? “I’m focusing to get out of this situation.”
Do you have a place to live right now? “I’m living in temporary accommodation but it’s not fixed because of my mental health issue.” Is it shared housing? “Yeah shared housing – it’s a temporary base because of my mental health problem. So I’m trying to get out, to get involved.”
Lui Saatchi's story
"I became homeless because the landlord wanted to refurbish the place and he kicked me out. I went to the County Court and they gave me a notice. I became homeless – sofa surfing for a few weeks. After that I ended up in a hostel in west London. I was working but still I couldn’t find a place to live so I was staying in the hostel for seven years until they offered me a place."
"Homelessness is not an easy thing. We’re people – with talents, with abilities, and it’s places like this that lets the world out there know that you may have forgotten us but there are still people who haven’t. So hats off to this organisation for what they do." Peter Nathan (September photographer)
Risks and challenges
This is the 7th annual MyLondon calendar we have produced, so we are experienced in the process of writing, editing and printing the calendar. However this year is a tough year for the UK. Because of the uncertainty of the Brexit trade negotiations with the EU, the economic climate is more uncertain than ever, and we don't take anything for granted.
We know we need it ready for a September launch. However, we need to reach our Kickstarter target to be able to confirm the final amount printed (7,000 calendars).
Something that is always a challenge is successfully selling all of the calendars printed in arts markets while providing work experience to people who have been or are homeless. This year we are focusing on giving the vendors more independence to work on their own, either in the market or on the street.
Vendors affected by homelessness who want to sell the calendar for themselves on the streets or to friends will still be able to do so through the vendors programme: buying the calendars for £5.50 each and selling them for £10.99 (i.e they earn 50% of the sale price).
Any additional calendar revenue made 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
- (30 days)