Can you do it?

The Soapbox Community Print Shop and Zine Library is opening a new 4,500 square foot community book arts and printmaking studio and we need your support!

The Soapbox is a nonprofit community print shop, book and zine making center, and library of 2,000 rare handmade publications - one of three such spaces in the country that combines zine, book arts, and poetry chapbook worlds in one location. Since 2011, we have been offering affordable workshops, equipment access, art exhibits, readings, a reading room, and edible printing events out of a small rowhouse in West Philadelphia. We are excited to be outgrowing our space as we’ve added more equipment to our letterpress, screenprinting, etching/relief printing, and digital printing areas.

This winter, we plan to open a new 4,500 sf community studio in a renovated Furness and Evans Company church at 4700 Kingsessing, two blocks west of Clark Park and eight blocks from our current location, easily accessible by public transportation. In the new space, The Soapbox will expand its equipment offerings and open hours, as well as offering private artist studios and keyholder/24-7 memberships. Your support will also enable us to expand community programming such as initiating youth programming in partnership with Mighty Writers West, establishing an Artist-in-Residence position to teach printing and bookmaking to young writers.

Our member artists work in a range of media, including letterpress, screenprint, relief printing, bookbinding, and papermaking. Our larger space will make room for exciting equipment offerings such as a Vandercook and offset or risograph press possible. We will increase work tables, allowing us to accommodate more artists and larger workshops, as well as add a second etching press and a large fabric printing table to our offerings. We will build a separate room for screen cleaning and paper pulp machines, to isolate the noisiest activities of our shop and protect your hearing.

We will also have increased space for shelving and perusing our ever-growing collection of handmade publications, now the largest DIY zine library in Philly. This space will allow us to have a truly public community letterpress and bookmaking studio - the only space of its kind in Philadelphia.

The Soapbox wants to help you make your voice heard. We support the community in recording and sharing its stories in a compelling way, using the tactile and visual arts of printed matter to grab attention with something authentic and handmade in today's digital age. By preserving the crafts of the book and letterpress printing, we are also maintaining Philadelphia's long and important history in printing, pamphleteering, and activism. Our library of handmade publications archives these stories and practices, preserving stories outside mainstream media and publishing. Further, our community programming will use visual and tactile arts to promote literacy through our interdisciplinary practice. We can do all of this better in a public space - and we'll be able to help fill a neighborhood need for artist studio space.

Funds will go to space improvements, such as building out a dark room for screen coating and a paper beater room, installing sinks, partitioning private artist studios, and painting and furnishing this unfinished space, as well as going towards costs of moving and insurance in the new space. We need to be sure we can pay rent and utilities while we improve the space and build our membership. Your money will also support our new youth programming in partnership with Mighty Writers West.

$5,000 build walls to finish and partition select areas of raw space
$ 500 for paint and cleaning supplies
$1,000 for insurance costs
$ 500 in moving costs
$6,000 for 6 months of rent and utilities
$1,000 for furniture to allow more people to work in the space such as work tables, storage lockers, flat files, chairs
$1,000 to support one Work Exchange member who will implement youth programming
= $15,000.00

Rewards for supporting this exciting and game changing growth for The Soapbox include: printed matter created at The Soapbox by members and friends, blank books created with old Soapbox floor boards, discounts on workshops, memberships, exclusive papermaking parties, and more. You will get a valuable community resource where you can read and create with unique resources for your use. Most importantly, by donating to The Soapbox, a 501(c)3 organization, you will be directly supporting and preserving the voices and creative skills of our community.

If you support us in reaching our goal by December 18, we can spring into action on our three- year plan. We anticipate getting our keys to the space on January 1, and madly space improving and moving in January. In February, we plan to invite you into the space. Memberships will begin then. Soapbox notebooks and zine packs will be ready to pick up or ship in February/March (please get in touch, though, with any special holiday requests). Expect VIP Sketchbooks in June. Papermaking parties can be scheduled once the space is open. Our workshop schedule (other than member orientations) will resume in early spring.

The Soapbox has a nearly five year history of delivering programming and community access. We have been working with a business consultant as we plan our expansion. We are confident that we can bring an exciting creative space to the community. If we do not make our fundraising goal, we face a slower transition into the new space and it will take us longer to be able to add equipment such as the much requested Risograph to our offerings. We may lose opportunities for donated labor, increasing long term costs for a shoestring nonprofit. We may not be able to initiate the youth programming outlined until grant funds are secured in subsequent years. With your support, we can be the community space we'd all like to spend time.

Our thanks to, Steve Merkel, and Jule Maurer for their contributions to our video!

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