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The Co-Creative Center: “All or Nothing”

W.H.A.L.E. Development Director Amanda DeGrace with plans for the Co-Creative Center.

W.H.A.L.E. Development Director Amanda DeGrace with plans for the Co-Creative Center.

About 50 enthusiastic people came to Groundwork! on Monday evening, Oct. 3 to attend an information session and discussion regarding the coming Co-Creative Center on Union Street, New Bedford. If you haven’t heard about the project yet, here’s the quick 411:

The Co-Creative Center will be housed at 139 and 141 Union Street, two historic pre-Civil war buildings purchased by the Waterfront Area Historic League (W.H.A.L.E.) and currently undergoing renovation from a design by Studio2Sustain. When completed, many elements will come together to realize its vision. It will house two eateries, four small apartments, office space, classrooms, retail space designed for artists and artisans and a maker space. This last item was the primary focus of the meeting Monday night and will substantially define the entire project.

The goal of the information session was to solicit input from area artists, artisans and makers about what a Co-Creative Center should offer its members – and it comes at a critical moment. While primary funding for the bricks and mortar build-out have been secured, a unique opportunity currently exists to raise funds for the actual equipment that will populate the maker space.

W.H.A.L.E. explains in a press release, “In partnership with MassDevelopment and Patronicity, WHALE has launched a crowdfunding campaign for the Co-Creative Center. If the creative economy development can raise $50,000 by November 23 then MassDevelopment will match every dollar for capital equipment of the makerspace and its final build out.”

Amanda DeGrace, W.H.A.L.E.’s Development Director, noted that the chance to secure a total of $100,000 in funding was an “all or nothing” opportunity. MassDevelopment will match any donation to the Co-Creative Center only if it meets its target of $50,000 raised locally.

In order to ensure that happens, several ways to contribute have been formulated. Supporters can contribute directly to the fund via a Patroncity campaign here. On every Tuesday in October, Not Your Average Joe‘s in Dartmouth will contribute 15% of your lunch or dinner check to the project as part of their Not Your Average Cause program if you mention it to your server . And, local artists Beverly Carter and Sandy Hall will be hosting an exhibit at their Saltworks Carriage House, 115 Elm Street, South Dartmouth this weekend and also will contribute a percentage of their sales to the project. (Details on all below.)

W.H.A.L.E. Executive Director Terri Bernet at the information session for the Co-Creative Center.

W.H.A.L.E. Executive Director Terri Bernert (right) at the information session for the Co-Creative Center.

As important as raising funds for the Co-Creative Center is, as noted above the goal of Monday’s information session was much deeper. It was designed to gather the input of potential Co-Creative Center makers and patrons and begin to sketch out a working model for how it will operate. In addition to DeGrace, W.H.A.L.E.’s Executive Director Terri Bernert led the meeting and the project’s architect, Kathryn Duff was on hand to “walk” folks through the space.

In order to do justice to everything that was discussed, I’ll devote a dedicated blog post to the many ideas expressed during the information session at Groundwork! at a later date, so stay tuned. For now, here are the ways you can contribute to New Bedford’s Co-Creative Center – and also an opportunity for you to stop by and offer your input to this innovative project:

October’s Not Your Average Cause
Not Your Average Joe’s in Dartmouth
Every Tuesday in October
Whether it’s lunch, dinner or take out, you can eat at NYAJ’s and mention that you want to help the Co-Creative Center. A 15% portion of your meal’s bill will go to the project.

The Saltworks Carriage House Exhibit
115 Elm Street, South Dartmouth
Columbus Day Weekend – Friday, October 7th to Monday, October 10th
Opening Reception Friday 5:00-7:00; Saturday & Sunday 11:00-5:00; Monday 11:00-3:00
Local artists Beverly Carter and Sandy Hall are hosting an exhibit and a percentage of their sales will go to the project. Come enjoy local work housed in a treasured historic site.

WHALE and Co-Creative Center @AHA!
139 Union St., New Bedford
Thursday, October 13th, 5:00pm-7:00pm
Come check out the future home of the Maker Space and Gallery, see our plans, and learn about how to support it through an innovative social media platform. Project team on hand to answer your questions and take your input on this arts development.

Steven Froias