How Soup can save the world (a bit) | Northampton Soup

Trying to get a production off the ground? Large-scale arts funding makes you want to never do anything creative again? Soup may be the answer… Northampton Soup is a live crowd-funding event taking place every other month at The Umbrella Fair Pavilion. One of the organisers, Tamsyn Payne, tells us some of her favourite things about Soup…

At a Northampton Soup event you exchange your fiver donation at the door for a vote, take a seat and hear four local projects pitch for the funding pot. Then you ruminate while scoffing lashings of homemade soup and bread, cast your vote and see who wins! It’s a lovely community feel-good event and has started-up / helped along a whole load of great projects in the last two and a bit years.


Northampton Soup (for those who are new to the concept) is something you need to know about if you are in the business of small creative or community projects in Northampton. Forget all the pain of large funding bids, Soup is deliberately and at times belligerently, simple and quick. It’s an A4 application and a four-minute presentation followed by four questions from a (usually) friendly and interested audience. If you win, at the following event you come back and tell us how it all went. You don’t have to be a charity or a CIC in fact in many ways we’d prefer it if you weren’t, Soup’s all about the small things…

The Soup Pot


Soup is not only about funding, it’s a brilliant networking opportunity, and a platform to promote what you slave away at, to a roomful of people who are actually interested! More often than not projects come away with new supporters or collaborations in mind and the motivation that comes from the approval of a load of strangers. For example, The Woolly Crew (Northampton Yarn Bombers) will be guest-knitting on the deck of ‘Dame Joody‘ a floating community space with ambitions, following the March gathering at which they both presented (and caught each other’s eye!)


A Soup event together takes a little bit of time from a lot of people. the goodwill and ongoing donations from some great Northampton collectives (Daily Bread, Umbrella Fair and The Good Loaf) and a few pounds from a few more people (the audience!) All of these little bits of energy, time and resource go into the pot (see, see its a symbolic soup too!) and make much bigger things happen. It’s the magic of community action and it feels bloody awesome to be part of.


I am a committed foodie and the process of choosing the ingredients from Daily Bread and coming up with the recipes for each event, trying to keep it seasonal and always vegan-friendly (whilst tasty enough to sate the carnivores) is a real pleasure. We spend a day concocting together in the kitchen it’s brilliant fun. Food is a great way to bring people together and we have some exciting guest chefs coming up this Summer!


Soup’s been tootling along very happily for a couple of years now, we’ve supported choirs, community cafés, cancer support, food projects… all sorts. Now we need more creative projects, the whole point of Soup is to encourage new thinking, start-ups, small acorns that have a big impact. We run light and simple and those are the sorts of projects we’d like to see coming forward. There’s no age limit, it could be a group of pensioners with a brilliant guerilla gardening plot, teenagers with a litter-pick mission, mums and tots recording studios, excluded kids’ multi-sensory daytime raves… There’s no bad ideas and ultimately on the day, the people will decide!

Tamsyn serving soup March 2018

If you want to apply for Soup funding please email The next event is on Sunday 27 May at The Umbrella Fair Pavilion (Racecourse, Kettering Road, Northampton, NN1 4LG) All the projects are in place for May’s event so you have a bit of time to formulate your plans for 22 July!

Tamsyn Payne is a Northampton-based arts freelancer and community theatre director. She’s been volunteering with Northampton Soup for the last two and a bit years.

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