When funding cuts threatened the future of an iconic Liverpool building, its supporters turned to Crowdfunder to ensure it would not be lost to the city.
St Luke’s Church, known locally as the Bombed Out Church, is a much-loved Liverpool landmark. Having lain empty for decades after it was bombed in the Second World War, over the past few years it has been turned into a very special venue, hosting an array of arts and community events.
After losing funding in April this year the people behind its new life were determined to save it for future generations, and Crowdfunder seemed like the perfect way to raise crucial money and support.
“It makes sense for people to back it because they love it so much,” says Ambrose Reynolds, curator of the church. “We had something like 600 pledges, most with quite small amounts of money, but they make a difference. It’s by the people, of the people, for the people. I think that’s really the whole thing about crowdsourcing – if something’s positive and people love it they can support it in more ways than just volunteering – they can put their hands in their pockets. Crowdfunding seemed like the most logical way to do it – it’s people power.”
The Bombed Out Church campaign ran in August this year and was hugely successful, exceeding its original target of £18,000. As someone who’s not naturally internet-savvy, Ambrose says running the online campaign was a steep learning curve. But he found the key was to access as many networks as possible.
“One was a nightclub promoter, Club Freeze, who hold nights in here a couple of times a year. Once we got on their network, which is huge, it all seemed to blossom from there. It’s all about getting the word out.”
The Bombed Out Church is also lucky enough to have some pretty high-profile supporters. Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney praised the work being done at the church, and urged local people to support it, saying “It would be a terrible shame if we lost this cultural icon”. John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono – who has exhibited at the church in the past – has also backed the campaign to save it. And The Liverpool Echo ran a number of stories on the Crowdfunder campaign.
Having received so much financial support through Crowdfunder, Ambrose says they are being very careful with how they spend the money in order to make the best use of it.
“We’ve built a bistro bar inside the church – we’re prioritising things that make money because people have invested in us, so our investments have to be wise. Every pound really counts.”
They have also spent some money on a CCTV system and fire exit signs, and later in the year plan to buy a PA system. Other work will include essential maintenance and the creation of an indoor space for classes and sessions to take place in bad weather.
The venue plays host to more than 500 people a week, either enjoying its varied programme of arts events, exploring its history or just looking for somewhere peaceful to sit and reflect. And Ambrose and other supporters are passionate about making sure it can continue to hold this unique role for the community.
“It’s like a symbol of Liverpool’s determination to survive,” he explains. “People feel an affection for the space and really like what we’re doing with it, bringing the space back to life through the arts. It inspires not only the people who perform here but also the people who visit.”
“It’s started something else to raise the really big amounts of money. Without us receiving the crowdfunding we wouldn’t have been able to do this.”
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