Sunday, 26 October 2014

Craft Club

No cards today but a bit of a story instead, feel free to skip it:

For over ten years now I've run a craft club, 99% card-making because that's what my members wanted to do. At one point I had two clubs plus a healthy waiting list.

Fast forward a few years and we had people leave, once the novelty had worn off I guess, unfortunately some others left due to ill health; their own or their spouses.
I made the difficult decision to close my evening club, members did not want to come out once the nights started pulling in or the weather turned. The biggest issue I faced was that members usually came with their friends or relatives or neighbours; if one of them decided not to attend one week then more often than not their 'pack' did not come with them. One member down is not a problem on a week-to-week basis but five or six at a time means a real struggle to cover costs.

So, I had one daytime club, we had a lovely venue and a really nice bunch of ladies attending every week. The venue was seven miles from where I live and they appreciated I wasn't making profit as such, the fact that I was providing something for their community, and so the care-taker let us pay a very reduced rent.
Two years ago, with hardly any notice, we were told the venue was closing down completely, I was on holiday at the time so it was all a bit of a panic.

I needed somewhere close to the old venue but it's not an area I am familiar with really. Anyway we found a community centre and agreed to rent it every Thursday for two hours.
Our rent had now trebled and also within weeks a couple of members stopped coming. A few more months in and we lost a couple more, then another two.

What I was facing was that if every member came every week, or thereabouts, I could cover the running costs, I think that only happened about twice in two years! I advertised in the community centre, the local media, and on-line. We just couldn't get anyone else to join.

At the start of this month, after another phone call; "Sorry I'm not coming to club this week" I sat down and properly looked at the problem. Covering the rent was hard but not impossible but the price of materials has gone up year on year, then there was the refreshments and a few smaller costs. I calculated that just driving the seven miles there and back every week was costing me £100 annually in fuel, there's nothing else for me in that part of town so the only reason I was going there was the club.

Having people tell you they aren't coming next week, then another, then another...anyone who runs any kind of group or club or class will tell you; it is soul destroying. The only thing that kept me plodding on with it for at least the last year was the thought of disappointing my ladies, but realistically it could not carry on.

Because so many community centres have lost their government funding it is a real problem finding somewhere suitable with affordable rents. You can't keep putting up your weekly subs because people will just stop coming if it's too expensive.

A couple of weeks ago I was told about a new venue, a mile from my house, plenty of free car-parking, even free tea and coffee. And the best bit? no rent to pay!
How amazing is that?

There is a cost and that is you have to pay for and organise your own Public Liability Insurance. I've just paid that and it's less than one-tenth of the annual rent we paid at the previous place. 
Organising the new venue felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders :)
The only (big) downside is that some of my ladies are unwilling to travel to the new place which is fair enough. I know how much hassle it's been for me driving across town for the last nine years so I don't blame them for not wanting to do the same in reverse on public transport.

The thing was it was either move to somewhere nearer my home or just shut the club permanently. I will just have to advertise the new one and fingers crossed we get a few newbies.

The name of my new venue?
As in the supermarket.

There are around fifty (I think) Tesco stores across the country that provide a community room for not-for-profit groups just like mine. Not surprisingly they are very popular and we are so lucky to have grabbed one of the last weekly daytime slots in ours.
Free rent, free car-parking, free tea and coffee, we don't even have to carry our equipment in; just put it all in a shopping trolley and wheel it through the store!
I am so grateful to Tesco for providing us with this fabulous opportunity. If anyone has a group like mine and your local superstore is being renovated get in there quick and get your name down.

The pile of ribbon and glitter card here? that's actually from Tesco, children's craft section.
Ten sheets of A4 glitter card £3, twenty lengths of bright satin ribbon £1.20
No need for us to run out of stash, we can just nip out of the room and buy some :)

Now I just need a couple more ladies (or gents) to come along and craft with us, fingers crossed, our first session this week...

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