Cupola Gallery in Sheffield launches £40,000 crowdfunding bid

Founder and director Karen Sherwood is launching a crowdfunding campaign to secure the long-term future of the Cupola Gallery in Hillsborough.

Tuesday, 13th August 2019, 1:29 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th August 2019, 7:47 am
Karen Sherwood with a piece by Rebeka Sara Szigethy. Picture: Chris Etchells

Under a campaign slogan of CPR - Cupola Preserve and Rescue – they are seeking to raise £40,000 for essential repairs to the building.

Cupola Contemporary Art’s gallery and framing workshop occupy two adjoining shop units on Middlewood Road dating back to around 1918 and in need of significant repair work.

“I have been quoted £20k alone to repair the floor of the framing department. Apparently steel beams are required to make it safe,” explains Karen Sherwood. “A lot of other work needs doing so I have set a target of £40,000.”

The crowdfunding will be augmented by other fund-raising initiatives. One idea is for a Secret Postcard Show in the mould of the Royal College of Art’s annual fundraising exhibition and sale which features over 1,000 postcard-sized artistic creations by a range of people from celebrated artists and designers to students.

“We would invite artists, celebrities, students and children to contribute and sell for a fixed price. People buy them on face value and then only see the name of the person on the back. One of our artists, Tim Rose, took part in one and found he had bought one by Helen Mirren no less.”

When the Cupola opened 28 years ago the gallery replaced a launderette. Then when they wanted to expand the framing service from a back room they had to take over a place across the road because next door was still in use as a betting shop. When that closed they put the frame shop on the ground floor and an extended gallery space upstairs.

“I survived the awful disruption of building Supertram, not to mention the recent closure for maintenance, the recession, the perpetual roadworks around Hillsborough, and burglaries,” she continues. In April thieves smashed down the front door and stole two ceramic sculptures and only last week a sneak thief ran off with their donations box.

“Fortunately for us and disappointingly for them, there was not a huge amount in it and mostly in 2p and 1p pieces. Must have been a desperate individual,” observes the Curator director.

“Essentially I would like to feel that I could secure the future of the building in time for the 30th anniversary of the gallery in 2021

“Basically I am appealing to anybody who thinks the gallery is worth keeping. I am uncomfortable about asking for help. People will question that you have been running for 28 years and still asking for support. “ But I am responsible for repairs under the terms of the lease. The idea of spending that kind of money on a building that doesn’t belong to me is a bit galling.”

To that end she is hoping separately to take on a mortgage to acquire “One of my landlords is happy to sell one of the buildings I rent and in order to secure the future of the gallery it would make a lot of sense to buy it. Rare and Racy and Bank Street Art have gone and we hope people would want to ensure that we could continue to show work by artists and makers both local and national.

“We have become part of the community, even if some people refer to it as an art shop rather than an exhibition space. I want people to value art and our purpose is to display art which otherwise would struggle to have any visibility.”