Brighton’s only glass blowing school launches Crowdfunder after council denies grant

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Local glass blowing business and teaching studio, Brighton Glass, has launched a Crowdfunder in an effort to keep the business alive after receiving no financial support from the Government during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Gordon Kay, the founder of Brighton Glass, says Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC), decided that his studio does not qualify as a “unique business”, despite being the only glass blowing school in the city and surrounding area. Their decision meant that he did not receive the £10K Discretionary grant he applied for, leaving him struggling to save his business.

As the studio relied on people being in close quarters and involved tool sharing, there was no concievable way for Brighton Glass to continue operating in line with the Government’s Covid-19 restrictions.

What is Brighton Glass all about?

Brighton Glass is a local arts studio that offers rentable space, practice equipment, and lessons for those interested in the art of glass blowing, who don’t have their own kit or the space to practice elsewhere.

“We work with borosilicate glass on torches which allows the for the creation of very detailed & colourful artworks. This makes it ideal for creating everything from jewellery to kitchenware & anything else you can think of,” says Kay.

He explains why this art form could be widely beneficial if it were more accessible:

“Personally, I find glassblowing a very mindful activity, I believe from my own experience that it is very good for mental health & i also think it could be a real benefit to the community if made more available.”

After falling in love with glassblowing from the first time he tried it, Kay decided there needed to be a space for people to learn. Before Covid-19, Gordon accommodated 1-to-1 and group classes, on top of creating stunning glass pieces for his customers, to help spread his love for the unique craft.

“Building the studio, teaching students & seeing their progression really is rewarding in a way I never anticipated & is just another reason why I’m asking for your help to be able to continue being able to offer that to people.”

 

What has BHCC said about denying Brighton Glass’ grant?

Brighton Journal reached out to BHCC for more information regarding why Brighton Glass and many other local businesses have been left without financial support.

A spokesperson shared the approach taken by the council in choosing successful applicants:

“The Discretionary grant process was based on the relevance of applications to the council’s Economic Strategy and Corporate Strategy, as outlined in the guidance for local authorities from central government around discretionary grants.”

They then explained that the council recieved over 900 applications in the nine days that the online portal was open, with requests that amounted to over £10m.

“Unfortunately, the council was only allocated £3.67million by the government which meant that there was a shortfall of over £6million, we subsequently lobbied the government to be able to spend the unspent money from the small business grant fund originally allocated to the council, but this request was rejected.” 

This decision left around 600 of the 900 applicants without any financial support, including Brighton Glass.

What will donations go towards?

After being denied the £10K Discretionary grant, Kay has now launched a crowdfunding page from which he is hoping to raise £5K to keep his studio open and safe in the age of Covid-19.

£1K will go directly towards adapting his studio for coronavirus protection. This would include purchasing PPE, replica sets of tools and torches for students so sharing is no longer necessary, hand sanitiser, screens, and other forms of protection for himself and his students and customers.

The remaining £4K would go towards more cost efficient and environmentally sustainable oxygen equipment needed for glass blowing.

Kay explains that oxygen is his next biggest expenditure after rent, because it usually comes in costly rented tanks which must be delivered and picked up. These expensive deliveries can be unreliable and leave him without the equipment he needs to do his work and teach his students.

For these reasons, the money would be spent on oxygen making system that would allow Kay to produce it on site and therefore become oxygen independent.

He explains why spending in these areas could help him cut longterm costs and keep the community safe:

“These 2 investments I believe would go a long way towards securing the future of the studio by lowering one of my main over heads & making things more manageable for teaching.

“It would ultimately mean that I would be able to continue till we get through this tough time. 

“Hopefully giving more confidence to people to come back & discover the amazing world of glass art.”

Where can I donate, and what’s in it for me?

If you want to help keep Brighton’s only glass blowing school open, you can donate via the Crowdfunder.

While you’re there, you can also find additional information about Gordon’s business, including several testimonials from customers and students.

He promises that there’s also something in it for you if you donate:

“I’m not asking for something for nothing and I truly appreciate any help I get so it must be reciprocated.”

From a virtual high five to custom pieces and free lessons, each donation amount offers it’s own unique reward for you to select.

To learn more, head to Brighton Glass’ website, and/or Crowdfunder.

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