Glasgow Gallery celebrates global street paper movement and its impact on homelessness
Free interactive exhibition at The Lighthouse showcases the hard work and creativity of over 10,000 vendors worldwide
Glasgow’s Lighthouse hosts the world’s first ever international street paper exhibition, to highlight the difference the International Network of Street Papers’ (INSP) has made to the lives of those affected to urban poverty.
INSP is a Glasgow-based charity which supports The Big Issue and 109 other street papers, published in 24 languages across 35 countries. According to their website it aims to give “a hand-up, not a hand out” to people facing homelessness and social exclusion.
Statistics released by INSP shows the network has supported almost 300,000 marginalised people since the first street paper was published in 1989. Today, there are approximately 10,600 vendors selling street papers at any one time earning more than 27,000 people an income.
The INSP said that 23.3 million magazines were sold across the world to over 5.8 million readers, earning a total of approximately £25 million for street vendors.
Ian Elder, Economic Development Manager with The Lighthouse, said: “The Lighthouse is delighted to have the opportunity to take part in INSP VendorWeek. The exhibition and the events celebrate the work that is delivered across the globe and coordinated from Glasgow.”
The exhibition, Uncovered: Still Homeless, Still an Issue, is being co-produced with creative ideas agency Equator and is designed to uncover the people, stories, and creativity behind the world’s street papers.
It comprises a number of art installations including the Feeling Ignored? feature, which highlights the isolation vendors often feel when trying to sell papers.
It portrays two Big Issue sellers from Glasgow looking at the camera and then looking away, followed by the question “How does it feel to be ignored?”
It also features a series of iconic INSP front covers to highlight the role unique marketing has played in helping vendors sell magazines and better their lives.
INSP claims that street papers are a powerful group of independent media outlets, as they focus on underrepresented stories and amplify marginalised voices.
As reported on The Lighthouse’s website, Chief creative officer and co-founder of Equator, James Jefferson said: “We wanted to champion the people who sell these street papers from all over the world and provide them with the recognition they deserve, but in a way that allows visitors to understand what goes into not only selling each issue, but producing them too.”
Another art installation includes quotes from various street sellers across the world about the difference INSP had made to their lives.
Daelene from Denver, Colorado said: “When I started selling Denver Voice I was sleeping under a bridge now I have a home.”
Another vendor, Yanis Varoufakis, said he viewed “street papers as a lifeline”.
The INSP stated that since its inception over 28 years ago, there have been substantial social and economic developments that continue to heighten homelessness across the globe and these changes increase the importance of INSP’s work.
Homelessness remains a global epidemic in 2017. The last time a global survey was attempted – by the United Nations in 2005 – an estimated 100 million people were homeless worldwide.
The issue of homelessness also persists in Scotland.
Jefferson echoed this sentiment and said: “This exhibition is an amazing way to highlight an issue that’s right on our doorstep. Homelessness is unfortunately still an issue in 2017.”
On the intended influence of the exhibition, Maree Aldam, chief executive of INSP told The Lighthouse: “We hope that people will leave The Lighthouse filled with pride in Glasgow and its place at the heart of a global network for social change. And – most importantly – we hope that they will be inspired to go and seek out a vendor to buy their magazine.”
The exhibition runs until 9 April.