Words by Smiley Team
A much-loved community hub in Bristol has launched an urgent fundraiser to buy their building and save the space.
The Zion Community Art Space – a nonprofit creative space for the community to use – is hoping to raise a minimum of £249,300 to secure their host building and ensure the space is protected in the future.
For more than 11 years, the hub has provided a place to chat over a cup of tea or lunch, a place to meet friends, learn something new, find a support group or to enjoy comedy, music, theatre and more.
“Every person is greeted by name," says L. Lawrence, one of the many visitors to the art space. "People aren’t walking into a café, they are walking into a community. It has been a truly beautiful thing to observe.”
If successful, the Community Share Offer will mean Zion – the building and all that goes on inside it – is owned by the community and will remain so for future generations.
In 2011, Bristol resident Jess Wright purchased an empty Methodist chapel with a loan from Triodos Bank. Once a focus for the local community of Bedminster Down, this historic chapel had been left derelict after the congregation could no longer afford to sustain it.
Jess wanted to create a much-needed community centre in a residential area with few social or cultural venues, where people of all ages and backgrounds (especially those who were isolated or excluded) could meet. Jess, her own money, and a small team of volunteers turned the building into a small-scale café, offering creative sessions and film nights.
Over the past 11 years, Zion Community Art Space has become more popular and now attracts 15,000 people a year.
Now, the community has the opportunity to purchase this privately-owned building and save the space for future community use, opening up more opportunities, more input from the community and access to funding.
If the building is not purchased by the community, it will be put onto the private market and the art space will most likely close.
The fundraiser has already had £50,000 worth of donations, with many locals pitching in to save the space.
“Just moved to the area and already love this place,: says Piers, one donator. "I know it'll go from strength to strength if we can get it funded."
“Zion is so important to us - bemmie down wouldn't be such a lovely place to live if it wasn't on our doorstep," another wrote. "You bring so much fun and support to our community and we're excited for what's to come."
The team behind the community centre have until June 10th to try and raise the money to secure the future of the venue, and are hopeful for the future of the Zion Community Art Space.
DONATE: You can support the art space by donating to the crowdfunder – find out more.