We need your help!
Ridhi and Josie started Ort Cafe in 2011, a community cafe serving low cost drinks and healthy food to local residents and hosting exhibitions by local artists. It quickly became a venue for independent music acts from across the country. The cafe served as a hub for the community in a deprived neighbourhood lacking cultural activity. People from all walks of life felt safe to come to Ort Cafe and spend time there. We passed the baton to Jenna in 2015 who has been running the cafe ever since adding her own spice but keeping the community feel of the space alive.
Out of the cafe Ort Gallery was born in 2012, a community interest company with the mission to facilitate dialogue in the community. We are proud to have become an organisation that genuinely brings residents from all ethnic, social and faith backgrounds together through art workshops, discussion groups and other cultural activity. By supporting locals to meet and talk to new people we break down stereotypes about communities and individuals and help make our society a fairer and better place to live in.
Ort Gallery organises ambitious exhibitions that ask difficult questions about diversity, migration, sexuality, identity and Britishness. We are proud to represent Black and Brown artists, artists from the LGBT+ community, disabled artists, artists with mental health issues and artists from working class backgrounds. We feel these voices are underrepresented in our city and in the art world in general and we will always keep supporting these voices because they are the ones who have a story to tell. Highlights over the past few years have been Janet Mendelsohn’s pictures of Balsall Heath, Realism in Rawiya and Eca Eps’ ‘From Chibok to Calais’ (amongst many other great projects: http://ortgallery.co.uk/exhibitions/).
We have been lucky to have been supported by the Arts Council, Birmingham City Council, Big Lottery and Near Neighbours helping us to reinvest into our organisation, our city and paying artists a proper wage for their expertise. We now find ourselves in funding limbo - between funding bids unable to cover our base costs (£3000 a month which covers rent, bills, 1 full-time and 1 part-time member of staff). We are looking to raise £6000 to help us remain open for 2 months until the end of 2018, after which point we hope we will have another successful funding bid for another exciting two year programme. It’s too early to share concrete details of our plans for the 2019-2020 programme but we already know that our exhibitions will include: a photography project by a Palestinian artist on Arab women, literacy and education; a project looking at mental health and access and a Rwandan Photographer proposing a project about local politics and the community drawing links to our community in Balsall Heath.
What are we going to do with the money?
As explained above, the full funding target will help us remain open throughout our funding limbo and keeps our staff in employment. But we won’t stop there. We will organise an exhibition by and for local artist suffering with mental health issues. The exhibition will represent artists at the fringe of society suffering from social isolation and create a space for them to share their work. We have met many artists who use their artistic practice to help and support their mental wellbeing and will open our doors to many more. The exhibition will bring these talented individuals into our space and give them much needed exhibition opportunity in our city. Moreover, we will support the individuals with professional opportunities, such as help with proposal or funding bid writing to further their careers, critical feedback and networking opportunities. We will also support them with wellbeing services and sign-post them to existing support in the area.
What do others say about us?
"Great organisation that values Artists!” - Local Artist
"Efficient, well spoken, diplomatic, precise, no nonsense approach. They deliver.” - Local Artist
"It's a fantastic asset for the community! Keep up the good work!” - Resident
“Ort Gallery has created and enabled a series of innovative participatory activities, brokering new partnerships and offering developmental opportunities for local artists as well as bringing artists from outside into the Balsall Heath community to better develop the skills and talents of local artists and community members.” - Consultant
I don’t have any money - how else can I help?
- You can share this crowdfunder online and through word of mouth, help us spread our message!
- Come and see our exhibitions and take part in our events! And then spread the word about it!
- Volunteer with us by helping to set up exhibitions (technical help), help with online promotion & marketing, with invigilation and during events
- If you have experience of working with people with mental health issues please let us know if you are interested in supporting this exhibition in a pastoral capacity
- If you have fundraising experience and time to help us with future bids, please let us know!
- If you think you can help in any other way please just get in touch, we don’t bite :)