Axe hangs over arts café unless new sponsors come forward

Aidan Luck, 10, and volunteer Henry Allport, 19, take part in a Saturday art session at The Studio in Bicester. PNL-140904-165006001
Aidan Luck, 10, and volunteer Henry Allport, 19, take part in a Saturday art session at The Studio in Bicester. PNL-140904-165006001

An arts café project which is organised by young people for young people faces closure if new sponsors cannot be found.

The Studio youth arts café was set up in Bicester last October, following the formation of Youth of Bicester (YoBs), with support from OYAP Trust.

The café received initial sponsorship from Sainsburys, which lets them use the space at Crown Walk at a peppercorn rent, and Sanctuary Housing who help to finance art materials, equipment and professional artists to demontrate and hold workshops.

Now they need £10,000 sponsorship to add to £15,000 from national funding and councils, to keep the café open for the coming year.

General manager Caroline Tress said: “We have had 1,800 through the doors since the cafe opened. The point of it is that young people decide what goes on in there and we help them to make it happen. It gives them a sense of achievement and pride.”

The café has hosted manga art sessions, a street art workshop, clay sculpture lessons, and a dance flash mob. There are fortnightly showcases for young musicians and weekly activies which young people can ‘drop-in’ to. YoBs’ motto is ‘young people inspiring and being inspired’ and by inviting professional artists into the café it is hoped they will mentor and encourage emerging young talents.

Grants from the Chill Out Fund and cash from private donors also help to set up this project. Bicester Village helps with marketing the space and developing the logos.

Mrs Tress continued: “Currently there is no other space in Bicester that is just for young people. Where young people can do something positive that they have total control over. If the café closed they would lose the opportunity to do that. It has the power to change lives.”

The café is open every day after school during term time and throughout the day during holidays. It costs £85 a day to run the café and upwards of £250 to hold special art sessions. A team of volunteers, some of which are YoBs, also help to maintain The Studio’s work.

If you have a business which would like to support the project or if you would like to donate as an individual contact youth projects intern April Hatcher at april@OYAP.org.uk