The social enterprise that matches struggling artists with temporarily empty properties

Tom Lawson

Matching up London’s struggling artists with the empty properties of holidaying homeowners, social enterprise Launch Pad is seeking its first applicants. It’s ‘house-sitting for creative folk,’ they say

Describing itself as ‘house-sitting for creative folk who need a space to think, dream, and make,’ Launch Pad aims to help artists who want to make the most London’s creative opportunities but struggle to afford the city’s sky-high rent prices.

The organisation offers those who own ‘inspiring’ homes across London someone to look after their property at times when they’re away, while emerging artists, writers, designers and other creatives receive a temporary space to live and work rent-free.

I had the space to create, to dream, to breathe, to do, to be

Launch Pad founder and artist Matt Weatherall (pictured) moved to London five years ago and has since lived in warehouses, backpackers’ hostels, and a boat. He got the idea after his mentor invited him to check out of the hostel where he was staying, and move into his flat while he went on holiday.

“If London was one massive hotel, I’d just been upgraded to the penthouse suite after sleeping in the revolving door,” said Weatherall. “I had the space to create, to dream, to breathe, to do, to be.

“I shared the idea on Facebook at the beginning of April. Since then, five people have given me the keys to their pad while they’re away so that I can focus on building Launch Pad.”

If London was one massive hotel, I’d just been upgraded to the penthouse suite after sleeping in the revolving door

Hosts choose their resident from a list of applicants and are encouraged to feed their house-sitter’s creativity by pointing out the most interesting aspects of their home: favourite paintings, must-read books, or the light quality in a particular room. In return for helping them find their feet, residents leave their hosts something they have been working on during their stay.

Residencies last anything from a few days to several weeks. Applications are currently open to both hosts and residents for three match-ups in July, with a deadline of 4 July. One house is already on offer: the home of an art gallery manager and a social entrepreneur in Walthamstow, complete with desk space and garden.

All images: LaunchPad


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