A Wimborne mum, who received a hamper from her local foodbank, is just one of the many beneficiaries from the Designs For Humanity Fund, which local artist Stuart Semple set up with the Dorset Community Foundation (DCF).
Stuart, 40, who owns the GIANT gallery in Bournemouth, set up the fund using profits from the sales of thousands of special edition Christmas art tins through his Culture Hussle website.
At Christmas the fund donated £20,000 to provide 352 Christmas hampers, toy vouchers and other goodies to 352 families through Christchurch, Poole and Wimborne foodbanks and Citygate Church in Bournemouth.
Mr Semple, said: “We had originally thought of setting up our own charity but being a partner with Dorset Community Foundation made it so easy and we were able to get the fund up and running really quickly.”
He met the community foundation through its sponsorship of the Dorset Art Prize at Bournemouth and Poole College, where he first studied art.
Mr Semple said: “The reality of it is telling people in poverty ‘here’s art’ when they are thinking ‘I need nappies and I can’t get to work because I have no petrol’. So art comes a lot later in the process because you have to deal with the direct need.
“There needs to be some understanding of how we can help families in poverty, what they need and what a route out of poverty looks like. Is it about raising aspirations of what’s possible?”
He also plans to use his new gallery to encourage the next generation of artists, just as he was when he studied at Poole.
“We are thinking about an education programme and how we can integrate the community and also how we can bring bigger, more inspiring and challenging work to Bournemouth,” he said.
“It seems to me that people need a way into art, there’s an apprehension about it so we are looking at being an encouragement to get them in the door and interacting with it and not making it scary or elitist or weird. I don’t know how we get there but we will.”
Dorset Community Foundation director Grant Robson said: “Stuart is an inspiration not just to lovers of art but to all of us in the voluntary sector because his passion for helping people is so strong.
“We are delighted to work with him on Designs For Humanity and really excited to see where his energy takes it next.”
To find out more about Designs For Humanity or about setting up a fund with the community foundation, go to dorsetcommunityfoundation.org.
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