AN £18,000 Crowdfunder campaign has been launched in a bid to secure the future of St Luke's bombed-out church as a community arts space.
It follows some sighs of relief last week when Mayor Joe Anderson announced that, following an "exhausive survey" on the building, he had earmarked £150,000 which would help make the Leece Street landmark safe.
'A retired stonemason wandered past. We got talking and I asked him how he though he could help. He said: 'I need to pass on my skills to young people starting out. Allow me to do it or they will die with me. That's how I can help this building
The Mayor also pledged that the church would stay in council ownership, following a decree from his office in March that it would be sold for redevelopment - for as little as £1. Plans to turn it into a wedding venue were later thrown out.
The idea is that a community interest company or social enterprise should be put in charge of its day-to-day running.
Step in Ambrose Reynolds, ex of Urban Strawberry Lunch, who has been doing exactly that for the last seven years. In response to April's "churches-for-£1" bombshell, he and a group of volunteers have set up a charity which aims to see the church become a self sustaining arts and cultural venue "as well as place for remembering and celebrating the lives of those lost that the church stands as a memorial for".
Reynolds has tirelessly driven the revival of St Luke's since 2007, curating events as diverse as tai chi, yoga, cinema screenings, art exhibitions - including one featuring the work of Yoko Ono - rock, pop, and classical music performances.
He says: "There is a lot of confusion here. People think that because Mayor Anderson has committed £150,00 to propping the building up that that is the end of it. They want to know why are we fundraising for another £18,000.
"We are likening it to a car. You can have the most prestigious model in the world with the fastest, biggest engine, but without the battery it won't start. The £18,000 is the absolutely vital spark that will set things moving."
The money raised, he says, will be used for the installation of a workshop space on the first floor, a cafe made from up-cycled materials and the development of an overhead rain shelter which can be erected when required and allow events to go ahead. They also plan to install a PA and running mains water on site and undertake "much needed structural maintenance and enhancements".
But surely Mayor Joe's £150k has already paid for that? Well to a large degree, says Reynolds who, after discussions with English Heritage and Property Asset Management, believes £450,000 would be nearer the mark.
"We are extremely grateful for that pledge from the Mayor," he told Liverpool Confidential, "especially in these difficult financial times for the city. But that £150k is absolutely just the start, not the end, and the reality is St Luke's needs much more money than that."
Reynolds says his team intend to start run an ongoing, long-term apprenticeship scheme, perhaps with City and Guilds qualifications, where the expertise of practised professionals in the building trades can be passed onto a new generation "so that the church is giving back to the community in the same way she has for many years now."
He added: "Just last week a retired stonemason wandered past, who had worked on buildings like this all his life. I was putting posters up outisde. We got talking and I asked him how he though he could help. He said: 'I need to pass on my skills to young people starting out. Allow me to do that or they will die with me. That is how I can help this building.'"
The Crowdfunder appeal has already hit £5,000 at time of writing. Pledges start from £2 to £9,000 and incentives include "I helped save the Bombed Out Church"bracelets and canvas bags, name plaques on the actual walls, personal tours of its hidden bits and invites to the launch party.
Reynolds said: "The only source of income for the church is through the daily donations on open days, as well as the income generated from events. At the current rate this is not sustainable to handle the costs of the structural repairs necessary and running costs of the venue – help us help Liverpool by keeping this special community space open for everyone by donating to our Crowdfunder. "
And if you don't, they will name a gargoyle after you. Maybe.
To donate to the St Luke's Crowdfunder appeal, go to the website here.