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Keep Outhouse Open

Image courtesy of artist Thelma Mansfield

All artworks are donated in a collective effort to raise much needed funds to sustain Outhouse as a safe space for the LGBT+ community and allies.

Arthouse is showcasing a diverse range of affordable and investment artworks including original paintings, limited edition prints and sculpture. Arthouse is not possible without the unyielding support of the Irish artistic community. Their generous donations are an incredible gesture during such uncertain times for both communities. Collectable artworks by renowned artists such as Leah Hewson, Martin McCann, Thelma Mansfield and Cian McLoughlin will be up for auction in addition to many more covetable works.

After weathering over a decade of austere funding cuts due to the 2008 recession, the artistic community is once again facing an insecure future. Arthouse Online Art Auction will offer the opportunity for all contributing artists to avail of 50 percent of the hammer price for their respective artworks. Artists have the option to pledge 100 percent of the hammer price to Outhouse. Our core belief is that we must all rally together and support one another during these precarious times.

Like many other community centres and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, Outhouse closed the doors to our building on March 12, in line with Government recommendations. In an instant all the income from our social enterprise ceased completely and it has been near zero ever since as we have had minimum opportunity to keep the centre open.

For every month that Outhouse remains closed we lose significant income. The vast majority of this income pays the costs associated with running our centre, some of which keep coming in whether or not the centre is open.

In June 1997 Outhouse opened its doors for the first time on South William Street, and in May 2001 we moved to 105 Capel Street. When Outhouse opened at South William Street, the NLGF/GCN was a core tenant that contributed to its quickly becoming a thriving community hub, with a rapid increase in community groups and individual users. Many groups were formed and fostered in Outhouse, some of which, like TENI and BeLonG To, have become significant advocacy forces in Ireland. Making a real difference at the individual level is what has inspired and motivated the many volunteers and staff over the years. Our central principles of elevating diversity, community, inclusion and respect are alive within our walls.

52,450 people used our centre in 2019, demonstrating that it is a vital service to the LGBT+ community providing a ‘safe space’ for people to meet, build friendships, and develop support networks and interest groups within a stated and practiced ethos of respect.

Thankfully, the centre receives some funding from the HSE and Pobal to pay staff costs, which has been of great assistance, especially in these trying times. However, Outhouse normally runs on a social enterprise model which also receives income from the successful Café and Venue, which covers every other cost associated with our running. For these reasons we have never had to run a substantial fundraising campaign for the centre. We have never had to go to our community and ask for their financial support.

Outhouse Staff and Board are doing everything we can to Keep Outhouse Open for our community. However this is just the first step in a long battle for us. Our income will continue to be decimated even if Outhouse does reopen, as reopening in line with National Public Health Advice and social distancing will severely affect what income we can generate. The ability of our centre to operate at full capacity with three meeting spaces, a full café, signposting service, six offices all active at one time with a few hundred members of our community in one safe space is some way off in the future.

Reopening will bring increased costs for us with minimal income to offset these costs. However we are determined to do this. We will take every step possible to reopen the doors to Outhouse and keep them open but we will need your help. For the first time in 24 years we are directly asking you, our community for help.

We welcome all practicing LGBT+ artists and allies to be part of Arthouse, please email artauction@outhouse.ie for further information.

The Arthouse auction will take place the weekend of November 7 and 8, 2020.

Arthouse Online Art Auction will be available on the Invaluable live bidding auction platform. In order to view or bid in this auction please visit www.invaluable.com

This article appears in the 364 Issue of GCN

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This article appears in the 364 Issue of GCN