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Wambui Collymore wades into Artcaffe’s free-coffee-for-artwork saga

Wambui Collymore, widow of the late former Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore, and the founder of The Art Space, an online art gallery, has weighed in on Artcaffe’s free coffee and exposure saga.

The city restaurant on Wednesday dominated social media in the country after launching an art competition in which they announced that they would reward the winners with a year supply of coffee and exposure.

Although Artcaffe has since amended the competition rules after Kenyans went ham on them on social media, Wambui, who is an accomplished artist, has gone ahead to offer some free advice to the restaurant chain on how to invest in art pro bono.


In Wambui’s words, art is meant to be bought and not supported.

“This is precisely why we need to stop using the words, ‘support art’. Art is made to be bought, unless the artist offers to do it for free. Refusing to buy art actually kills the industry. Exposure is refusing to buy art. We don’t need exposure. We need investment in the arts,” Wambui said.


After being bashed all day on social media, Artcaffe on Wednesday said that would instead offer cash incentives for the competition winners, but still insisted that the campaign is aimed at giving artists an opportunity and exposure.

“In light of the reaction to our competition launch we want to clarify: The prize is not coffee and we greatly value artists and designers. In this difficult time the purpose of this competition is to give artists and designer’s exposure and opportunity,” the restaurant tweeted.

On the score of giving opportunity, Wambui said she appreciates and applauds the fact that Artcaffe would like to be involved in the visual arts.

“It’s fantastic when corporates get involved. The investment just needs to be sustainable and actually create tangible impact,” she said.