In partnership with Joshua Coombes, founder of the #DoSomethingForNothing campaign, TOMS held a four city pop-up art exhibition. The goal was to amplify the stories of people experiencing homelessness via multi-media art, and the team worked with Storefront to secure its Amsterdam and Paris pop-up spaces, each for a day-long event.
TOMS, who supports these Light & Noise exhibitions, spoke to us about the concept, the value of this partnership, and what it hopes to achieve with these pop-up exhibits.
Storefront: Can you explain the idea behind these pop-up exhibits?
TOMS: This pop-up art exhibit art exhibition is very special. It is part of a meaningful partnership with UK-based hairdresser and #DoSomethingForNothing founder Joshua Coombes to create increased awareness and inspire change on the growing issue of homelessness across Europe.
We have been working together with local NGOs to create a joint community art show, as part of his existing platform Light & Noise, that is being exhibited across four major European cities in March (Manchester, Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin).
The show shines a light on the lives and stories of isolated people in these cities, through visual art and multimedia content.
Storefront: Why did you choose these specific pop-up spaces on Storefront?
TOMS: For the Amsterdam and Paris spaces, we were looking specifically at “galleries” or gallery-feeling spaces on Storefront. I discovered Storefront when I looked for “galleries to rent” on Google. It was that simple. For Amsterdam, it was truly love at first sight. We only visited one space. It was in a historical monument, with very bright lights from the outside and when we shared with Joshua Coombes and Jamie Morrison, they also approved.
For Paris, I visited multiple spaces but the one we ended up choosing had a perfect location in a quiet street, in the middle of Le Marais and had been renovated not long ago.
We had to make sure we could host about 150 people and have enough walls for the different pieces of arts. Both spaces had sort of two rooms, making it great for the purpose of the exhibit which had multiple artists’ works represented.
How did TOMS select these four cities for the pop-up tour?
These 4 cities are very representative of the issue of homelessness. For example, in Paris alone, social emergency service accommodated 22,000 people each night in February 2019. Capital cities usually are the epicenter of such issues and we want to challenge the way people see homelessness and ignite compassion and share stories with dignity.
What do you hope to achieve with these pop-up exhibits?
We hope to bring together communities to shine a light and make some noise around the important issue of homelessness, as well as invest in programs that are having long-term impact on the issue. We also hope the pop-up exhibition may even inspire people to create change themselves around an issue they stand for.
How are you bringing awareness to this campaign?
This partnership is all about community – the local communities in each city and the vibrant, growing communities around TOMS and #DoSomethingForNothing. Our goal since the beginning has been to bring these communities together, to have important conversations, and hopefully inspire new connections and collective action. With that as the starting point, we’ve leveraged social media to share the event, which we hosted on Eventbrite, with the communities of TOMS, Joshua Coombes, and each local NGO.
It was important to us that each event be open to anyone from the public to join, so we also pushed the event through PR – including local event listings and features. Outside the space, we made sure that the exhibit was visible with a sandwich-board, welcoming anyone passing by to join.
What will happen inside the pop-up space?
During the exhibition, the format of each space will be consistent across all cities: alongside the works of Light + Noise, in each location we partnered with local artists and a local homelessness organization – to whom we will make a financial contribution, supporting their art programs for isolated people in the local community.
In Amsterdam we partnered with De Regenboog Groep, in Paris La rue Tourne, in Manchester Centrepoint, and in Berlin Give Something Back to Berlin. Visitors will have the opportunity to contribute through the purchase of limited-edition prints of the works, where all proceeds will be donated to the local organization.
How will you measure the success of this pop-up tour?
There were no strict KPIs to these events. The goal was to bring awareness on the issue of homelessness in our local communities, bring compassion and tell stories of people, through art.
They are actual human beings that have so much to teach us and if only one person has been inspired to take action, no matter how small, whether that’s deciding to start volunteering tomorrow or even starting their own project, I think we can say that it was a success.
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