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Vegan

Community Cafe

Friends January 2024

As we enter a new year, at Art&Soul we are facing some important challenges and decisions.

The last year, whilst we have managed to continue trading and have seen an 9% increase in our sales turnover, our costs have increased by much more than this.

Since the pandemic, businesses like ours have had to begin to pay back loans and debts incurred during the time when we were closed or unable to generate income. When we all hoped levels of business would return to pre-pandemic levels, we were all then dealt a blow of huge inflationary rises and economic pressures. What this has meant is that although we have increased the number of our transactions, the value of each of these has not increased as fewer people are, for example, buying hot food options than previously.

The demise of so much of the High Street since the pandemic has, it would seem, meant that folk in St Neots are not coming out to places like ours as often as before and when they do, they spend less. This is understandable of course. St Neots may take quite a while to recover.

We have continued to develop other aspects of Art&Soul - the performing arts and events side of the venue with regular Jazz nights, concerts, other events and parties but this takes a lot of time and energy to build up. We have lots more ideas, as you might imagine.

When we think about the impact that Art&Soul has in the community, we know that it is well loved and we have lost count of the stories of people who have found us, loved us and enjoyed the restful friendly atmosphere. People tell us what this place means to them. This was always our vision. We would love to continue this and reach more people.

Our lease in our quirky and loveable premises has a break clause this year and we need to decide if we should continue with it. If we do, we are going to need to invest money and energy as the building needs important refurbishment both with some external issues (roofing and windows) and internally with updating the tired décor and providing some better fixtures, fittings and equipment for performances. All of course in line with our sustainable ethos of upcycling wherever we can.

We need your help.

We need to raise £30,000 to open a new Community Interest Company and this will look to take over the running of the events. We hope to keep the brand name of Art&Soul.

We want to invite our community to be part of this through investing and volunteering. If we see there is good interest, we can pursue this as a route forwards. We don’t want to commit to the next 4 years of our lease if we don’t have the support of the community, particularly in the light of what has been happening on St Neots High Street over recent months.

If you would like to respond, please let us know (somehow) in which of the following ways you might be willing and able to help. You can contact us by sending an email to hello@artandsoul.cafe

1. I can invest some funds and would like details of how to do this.

2. I can offer time and energy and would like to volunteer in some way.

3. I would like to be involved in a formal way as part of the new CIC.

4. I am behind you but at this stage I cannot offer much by way of tangible support.

Whatever the outcome, we want to say thanks for your support over these past 5 years. It’s been quite a journey.

Lots of love

Caroline, Tim and the staff team at Art&Soul

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