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Frequently Asked Questions

What is so unique about Café Art?

Café Art is a social enterprise which welcomes anyone who has been homeless, or is currently homeless, with a goal of helping them exhibit and hopefully earn money from their art.


Most, if not all, homeless charities hold their own special art exhibitions annually or during their Open Days. These are great events that help showcase the marvellous artworks created. Cafe Art hopes to complement this by enabling the artworks to be exhibited to a much wider audience at more varied locations throughout the capital, all year round!

Not only that, we aim to show more artworks as we are not limited by space of a single venue. We hope that by doing so, we are giving more opportunities to even more artists to display their talents through a changing landscape of artworks at the Cafes for the public to enjoy, appreciate and celebrate.

Where do you get these wonderful artworks from?

We try our best to work with as many homeless organisations as possible. We don't discriminate the quality of work and will exhibit as many as we can - we are limited only by the number of cafes, wall spaces available and man power! We leave it to our partners - the cafes and offices - to choose and select the ones they wish to represent their organisation.

The artworks can range from drawings, paintings, sketches, photography to poems - so you are well spoilt for choice by these talented artists!

So which homeless organisations do you work with?

Please see our Partners page. We welcome more organisations to join us - so please feel free to contact us here if you wish to participate with other charities in celebrating your clients' talents and creativities in this unique and positive way!

What about the Cafés?

The cafés are the other 'stars' in this initiative. They have been selected so as to give a fairly even spread of artworks across the capital. Unfortunately because of Covid-19 the cafés have been closed in 2020 and early 2021 but we hope to expand our network next year so that there will be an even better spread of cafés all over London!

Most of the cafés are hard-working independent Cafes who have unselfishly agreed to put up these artworks on their walls for NOTHING in return. So if any Café owners wish to do their bit for the homeless, then do drop us a line here asap. We love to have you on our list!

The café list is by no means exhaustive as new cafés are signed on regularly. So please do keep coming back to check - there might be a partner Cafe even closer to you than you think! And if you want your favourite café to do their bit for the homeless, then just get in touch with us.

How are you funded, and do the cafés pay you etc?

Café Art was started by unpaid volunteers. The initial purchase of frames, website design/development & hosting etc was paid for through small, private donations from friends & families.  The cafés do not pay us anything too, and any profits of paintings goes to the artist.


We are a social enterprise and since November 2013 we have been registered as a Community Interest Company (CIC). CICs are companies limited by guarantee, but they are asset-locked. We can never sell the company and all the assets have to be donated if we ever wind up the company (our designated charity should this ever happen is Homeless Link). Currently our only assets are two laptops, and several hundred picture frames. As a social enterprise we are committed to raising money to empower people affected by homelessness and all our profits go toward this cause.

Since 2017 we began applying for grants to fund some of our projects. However we are a social enterprise and the majority of our income comes from the sale of the MyLondon calendar after we have paid the main costs: the printing of the calendar, framing of the exhibition and paying the photographers and calendar vendors. Photographers and calendar vendors affected by homelessness have earned more than £150,000 since we started this project.


How often do you change the artworks?


It is up to the cafés - from a couple weeks to several months.


So who are the main benefactors of this project?


Everyone! The homeless people (artists) gain self-confidence, pride and fulfilment from having their artworks exhibited and enjoyed by a wider audience. The project further helps to disseminate the problems and issues of homelessness for the charities. The cafe owners should hopefully gain more custom to their business, and the general public gets to view some amazing artworks for free while enjoying a fresh, tasting cup of coffee. And for Café Art, as long as the above equation holds, then our efforts have been worthwhile.

FAQ about MyLondon

How are the MyLondon participants selected for this project/competition?

Anyone who has experienced sleeping rough qualifies for a free QuickSnap camera at the annual MyLondon Photo Project handout, with the exception of people who have already appeared in more then two of the annual MyLondon calendars. The criteria has had to be changed from any vulnerable person who is in danger of homelessness so that we can focus more on the issue of rough sleeping, although many of the participants have already been rehoused.

When and where will the cameras be handed out to participants?

The cameras are one-time-use ("disposable") Fujifilm Quicksnap cameras (400ASA). Beofre 2020 they were handed out to 100 participants at St Paul's Cathedral. In 2021 we hope to have smaller socially-distanced handouts in late July or early August.

Can you tell us more about the camera?

The camera, a Fujifilm Quicksnap, comes with a built-in flash. The range of the flash is usually up to 3 metres. There are 27 exposures on the film. The film is colour, but we develop it in colour and in black and white.

What training in the use of the camera, if any, is provided to participants?

We visit art groups run by homelessness sector organisations in the weeks leading up to the camera handout and give basic training in how to use the camera. On the day of the camera handout we also give some training to the participants. In 2021 this will be done if possible in July - socially distanced because of the Covid-19 pandemic.


Are participants given copies of prints of the photos taken with their camera?


Because of Covid-19, most of our activities were cancelled in 2020. Normally participants are given a set of colour and a set of black and white photos. They can pick them up from the Crypt of St Paul's Cathedral on the day we choose five photos each for the exhibition.


Will the developed negatives be returned to the participants?


The participants are offered the negatives but if they don't want them we will store them in a locked storeroom. Participants can ask for their negatives back at any time.


Who owns the copyright of the photos submitted by the participants?


Copyright of the photos and images is owned by the participants. However if an image is already published or a copy of it sold it can't be taken off that publication (for example the annual MyLondon calendar).


How is the income from the sale of the photos distributed between the photographer and Cafe Art?


When the certificates are handed out £2,000 in prize money is shared between the 20 winning photographers. If photos are sold on the website, the photographer earns 50% of the profit after the printing and postage costs are taken out (£10 per photo sold). 


How is the income from the sale of the calendars distributed between the photographers and Café Art?


The calendar is sold on the same basis as The Big Issue magazine, with those selling the calendar earning money from calendars sold. If they work in the market on an official MyLondon table they can earn £5.50 per calendar sold. If they want to sell for themselves, they can buy the calendars for £5.50 and sell for £10.99. Many of the vendors who are involved with this project are the photographers, but not all photographers choose to sell. Likewise, many people who sell are not winning photographers.


Where, when and how will the selected photos be displayed ?


Everyone who participates in the project can choose three photos to be exhibited in the exhibition which will be hung in Spitalfields Arts Market or somewhere outdoors in the last half of 2021. Twenty photos will be chosen by the judges, featuring representatives from Fujifilm, The Royal Photographic Society, Homeless Link, Amateur Photographer and a formerly homeless photographer. All previous top 20 selections are on this website.


When, where and how will the calendar be sold?


The 2021 calendars, greeting cards and photographs are being be sold on our website. 


Is there a written contract between the participants and Café Art setting out the terms and conditions of the project/competition - including items like prize money, ownership of the camera, ownership of the developed film negative and prints, ownership of the photo copyright, rights to income from the sale of the photos and the calendar, etc.?


Yes, there is a detailed release form that the participants sign when they pick up the camera.


Lastly, help spread the talents of these artists and the work of Café Art by sending an email to your friend(s) here.




Lastly, if you wish to copy, replicate or reproduce any of the artworks and/or photographs shown either at the cafes, online or in any of the publicity materials, please respect the copyright of the artists by asking permission from us first and we shall pass your request to the relevant artist or photographer for permission.

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