As three Victoria arts organizations prepare to merge into a “co-operative of co-operatives,” its creators are brimming with ideas about potential.
“We could be three organizations just moving in together, and that would be an improvement,” Joey McDonald said from a small second-floor Chinatown space that is currently home of OLiO Artists and Workers Co-operative, which he co-directs.
“But the best possible outcome is we have something that is larger than the sum of its parts.”
The proposed InterArts Centre for Makers, in its most basic form, will bring Olio together with Victoria MakerSpace and Cinevic Society of Independent Filmmakers to a shared hub of artistic creation. At the moment, each operates in an independent niche: Olio specializes in screenprinting, Cinevic in film and MakerSpace as a community-operated shared workshop. Pooling their resources will give artists, designers and other creators a one-stop shop to access everything from laser cutters to film equipment.
But as MacDonald tells it, the space would have potential for much more.
“Ultimately … we’d like something that is large,” he said. “Something that benefits as many people as possible and that, in the process, has involved as many people as possible.”
In its ideal form, InterArts will operate similarly to places like Emergency Arts, a Las Vegas collective housed in a former hospital. Its website describes its vision:
“The aim is to bring working artists, writers, photographers, clothing designers, musicians, filmmakers, artisans, graphic designers, dancers, retailers, actors and start-up non-profit organizations together to synergize as a creative collective of co-ops. Visitor traffic will be fuelled by the destination of the variety of tenants, special events, exhibitions and a daytime place to have coffee and grab a bite to eat.”
The first opportunity for community input comes tonight in the Atrium courtyard (800 Yates St.), when InterArts hosts an “info party” from 7 to 10. It will be an informal opportunity to learn about the project and give feedback (and donations, if so inclined).
Big Tiny Smalls hosts, Monlitium spins, Phillips will be on tap and there will be laser-cut appetizers. Admission is free and everyone gets a free, limited-edition screenprint.
“We want to put it in [attendees’] hands and their heads and say this is what we’d like to do, this is how we think we can do it,” MacDonald said.
The overall goal of the project is to make it easier for people to engage with the arts, which includes a collaborative environment.
“People often come, at least to us and a lot of other co-ops, because they really want community, they want to be able to bounce their idea off others,” he said. “We’d like it to be a central location where community can kind of naturally form.”
Together, the three organizations serve between 300 and 500 artists, MacDonald estimates. He expects membership to grow, but said the scope of the project will be dictated by the community.
At the very least, InterArts will continue offering the services already provided by each of its member co-ops, using their current budgets but moving into about a 4,000-square-foot space. But it gets more exciting to think about a 6,000- to 10,000-square-foot space, which would allow fluid expansion — including rentable studio or office space for non-profits.
The group has about four downtown locations scoped out.
InterArts has applied for grants from the CRD, City of Victoria and others to cover start-up costs. But it also has an indiegogo campaign (indiegogo/interarts) with a $45,000 fundraising goal to move beyond the basic proposal.
“How developed the space becomes depends a lot on people. It depends a lot on how much effort and input we get,” he said.
Tonight’s free party is an opportunity to bring their ideas to the public and test the waters.
“If you can help out, that’s great; if you can’t think of a better way, we’d love to invite that,” he said. “This is going to happen. And we’d like it to happen as thoroughly as possible, which means it needs to involve more than just us.”
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