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Copenhagen edging ever closer to Utopia with paint banks

Ben Hamilton
March 16th, 2023


Volunteer-run initiative ‘Paint It Forward’ hands out up to 300 kilos every week to those without a (paint) pot to piss in

Copenhagen doesn’t have food banks … it has paint banks! That’s right, the welfare state tends to be so good in these parts, they’ve moved on from food … to acrylics. 

‘Paint It Forward’, a relatively new initiative in Copenhagen, helps to distribute paint, which would have been burned otherwise, to good causes and to those who need it most.

And there you were thinking the poor and needy had no need for paint! 

But it’s logical! Painters rarely become successful during their actual lifetime. Few visits to an art exhibition end without a final disclosure that ‘so and so’ died of tuberculosis somewhere cold, penniless without a (paint) pot to piss in.

Huge demand from the public
From their distribution centre in a basement on Lundtoftegade in Nørrebro, Paint It Forward typically hands out 200 and 300 kilos of paint over the course of two hours – such is the demand, reports KøbenhavnLIV.

When the initiative started – founder Lea Moltke-Leth was inspired by a news item about a family who could not afford to pay for paint – Paint it Forward ran on a monthly basis, but that quickly increased to once a fortnight and, as of today, once every week.

The quantity on offer means there is quite a large range of colours.  KøbenhavnLIV spoke to one couple who for years have been unable to afford the paint necessary to resurrect a room with purple and yellow walls.

“The more you can give to those who have the least, the more important this project is to me. We have people who come and say: ‘I haven’t painted for 10 years’ because they haven’t had the money for it, and they get so crazy happy about this offer,” enthused one of the Paint it Forward volunteers, Mai Vanilli.

Donors and distributors always welcome
In total, Paint it Forward has handed out 11 tonnes of paint since its inception in collaboration with Copenhagen Municipality and Amager Resource Center.

Donations are always welcome: fill up a mason’s jar of any leftover paint you won’t be using, and take it down to either Vermlandsgade Recycling Station in Amager or Bispeengen Recycling Station in Frederiksberg. 

And it wouldn’t work without the end-user, either. Sign up for the next distribution night via Paint It Forward’s Facebook page. Or alternatively volunteer to help the cause!


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