Sketchy Beats - arts café and event space.

A Community project Leith, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

A space where the local community can come together to sketch to a beat. A café offering high quality and nutritious sandwiches and salads.

Project aim

A space where the local community can come together to sketch to a beat. A café offering high quality and nutritious sandwiches and salads.

About the project

Sicilian Influence

My name is Cosima. In 2011 I went to live in Sicily for a year, as part of an Erasmus exchange with Catania University. I was blown away by the quality and value of the food over there. It was then I decided I wanted to open a café, to bring this incredible mentality towards food back home.

Valvona & Crolla

When I moved back to Edinburgh I started working for Valvona & Crolla, Scotland’s oldest Italian delicatessen. After a year I was put in charge of their new start-up – a small coffee shop on Rose Street. This taught me how to get customers into a new place and turn them into regulars. I also learned how to make good Italian coffee and how to run a small café.

Through this job and my circle of friends I came to realize that I was surrounded by creative people who worked in non-creative jobs and rarely had a chance to express themselves artistically.  

Sketchy Beats

This gave me the idea of setting up a monthly arts event, Sketchy Beats, in the basement of Yellow Bench on Leith walk. The event has been going as a pop-up for eight months now.

Sketchy Beats aims to challenge conventional forms of life drawing by fusing the traditional discipline with live music, live DJ sets and improvisational dance. For the first hour we draw a musician, then we do some shorter sketches of a dancer, then for the third hour we sketch a nude model.

These events have been a success and have sparked in me the dream of merging my passions: good Italian coffee, delicious and affordable food and a space for creative expression. And so my idea for an arts café was born.

The Café

My plan is to open a café which will sell real Italian coffee, sandwiches made with freshly baked bread from a local bakery and interesting and nutritious salads. I will also griddle vegetables such as asparagus, sliced courgette and aubergine which can be eaten in a Sicilian antipasti style. My aim to create high quality, healthy food at a reasonable price which can be enjoyed throughout the day or as an ‘aperitivo’ with a drink in the evening. The café will be BYOB initially but in the future I would like to stock some local craft beers and Sicilian wines.

Arts Events

A few evenings a week I will organize arts events, spanning a variety of different arts forms. These will include life drawing, improvisational dance, jam sessions, open mic poetry, writing workshops, craft workshops, DJ tutorials, film screenings and more.

People will also have the opportunity to sketch during the day – there will always be sketch books and art materials available for people to use and a display of interesting still life objects which people can sketch, if they wish, as they sit in the café.


By putting on these arts events and creating an open and inclusive atmosphere, I want to give local creatives the confidence to pursue their talents and share their work with the public. I hope to create a support network for local creatives and a space which can be used for exhibitions, events and workshops for aspiring artists of every kind.


The £4,000 I am asking for will go towards covering the costs of starting up my café. I already have the premises from the 1st October, now I just need the funds to turn it into an arts café. Here are some of the things that your investment will go towards:

Start-up Fees

First month’s lease


Insurance for the year


First month's bills

Start-up Equipment

First month’s rent for coffee machine

Deposit for coffee machine

Other coffee making equipment

Display fridge

Cash register

Cleaning Equipment and bins


Shop sign

A-boards and blackboard paint

Concrete paint for outside area


Crockery and cutlery

Start-up Other

Coffee beans



Salad and sandwich ingredients

Sketch books and art materials

Money to pay life models




I have added up the lowest and highest possible costs of all these things and the minimum I need to start-up is £4,000.

If my campaign overfunds then I will be able to get more comfortable furniture and pay for an alcohol licence, which will allow me to sell craft beers and wine. I will also be able to afford a greater variety of ingredients to make the menu more interesting.

I would also like to put a hatch in one of windows on the shop front, allowing me to serve takeaway coffees to customers waiting at the bus stop without them having to come inside.


Testimonials and Recommendations


Sketchy Beats is a community. A chemist sits alongside a public sector consultant, a town planner, a nanny and a classicist. Cosima has a unique ability to bring together different people and different ideas and make something special in a way that is natural and life affirming for all involved. Since the start I have wanted to introduce everyone I know to Sketchy Beats but limited space means it remains a special, but sadly unshared, night. Give it the space so rightly deserves and let it grow.

Lewis Fenton


I went to Sketchy for the second time yesterday, I just find it brilliant! Love the atmosphere, the people, the DJ set and YB's food. Also the fact that both dancer and model were different from my last time is a plus as it gives the possibility to sketch different figures! I'll definitely be there again and keep supporting this initiative. Thanks a lot guys :))

Lu Paternò Castello


Through all seven sessions I have seen Sketchy Beats grow and develop. As the DJ for this diverse and unique event, I am offered the opportunity to work with many new styles of music which aim to simultaneously intrigue and guide those sketching and modelling. From talking to various people at each event, it seems the environment created by Sketchy Beats makes everyone feel at home while the variety of artistic platforms inspire and satisfy everyone involved.

Christian Keating


 Sketchy Beats gave me the ability to break out of my bubble and truly perform as if no one else was watching. I think Cosima's concept of Sketchy Beats does just that, it encourages people to feel confident and comfortable exploring their inner artist. Cosima is a driven and creative individual who has decided to make her dreams reality. She certainly has inspired me to begin to take action on my own dreams and aspirations.

 Pilar Jasmine