THUNDER BAY – Two local social entrepreneurs are “going public” with their innovative social organization The Creative Commons. After supporting the organization for a year and a half, they announced they were turning it over to the community (or else!) and based on the feedback they are getting the community has accepted the challenge.
[sws_pullquote_left] Contact: Ben Lucyk firstname.lastname@example.org THE COMMONS REVISIONED! WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4th ~ 7pm @ The Creative Commons 116 Syndicate Avenue 2nd Floor (Beside the south entrance of Victoriaville Mall) Thunder Bay [/sws_pullquote_left] Angela Gollat and Meg Sheepway founded the Thunder Bay’s Creative Commons, an innovative social organization that brings together artists of all kinds and skill levels in one physical space to create works and develop their talents side by side in a carefully nurtured environment.
Adopting the motto of “Engage, Enable, Elevate”, they took the more well known concept of a “creative commons” in which artists voluntarily waived ownership rights of their works and flipped it into a physical interpretation the Syndicate Avenue studio rented by Gollat and Sheepway voluntarily opened its doors as a community wide arts hub. Beyond just sharing the space, they crafted a community using what they note as “conscious design” and “socioecology” – attention to small details, creating an environment and community known for eliciting surprise and joy from people upon entering the space. “I always leave this space happier” says Lindsay Holmstrom, a frequent visitor.
According to Gollat, neither traditional business models nor charities fit her concept of what The Creative Commons could be. “It was difficult to explain so I felt we just had to show people” and between herself and Sheepway they covered the difference between the bills and the revenue they received from occasional space rentals. They decided against selling refreshments or accessories. The artists served tea to each other and had pot luck lunches. They intentionally mixed the audiences for their exhibits and performances and gave over the running of the open mic nights to high school students in the interest of promoting the youth’s creativity.
Eventually, after what they call “a long gestation period” they decided to let the Commons stand on its own two feet. On November 5th of this year, they announced a hope that the idea of The Commons could be carried on by members of the community, but they would be closing the Syndicate location Dec 31st.
A meeting on Wednesday December 4th is now set to chart a course for a community operated, community funded Creative Commons at a new location, and so far it seems full steam ahead. The founders have been fielding a regular stream of calls emails from individuals and organizations with offers of support. What makes the commons different? As Holmstrom also put it “[When you] Invest your time and energy in a worthwhile community, [you] feel dividends within immediately”