Why is Creative Exchange a Cooperative?
There are ways in which being cooperative is both the method and the purpose of this project. With this cooperative we aim make more space for cooperation in the arts
WHY we do it and WHAT we'll do.
A cooperative (or Co-op) is a group of people who have come together to pool resources, share in decision-making and governance, and spread out financial risk. Cooperatives operate from the knowledge that collectivity lets you accomplish more, and that the people create value for an institution should also be able to make decisions about how it operates.
Benefits of Cooperatives for Artists
It’s expensive to be an artist and cooperatives can help mitigate some of the financial burdens of creative practice. A lot of the equipment or supplies required to create art, not to mention the space in which to create it, is expensive. If you buy and own collectively, you can amass more of the supplies you need to make your work, and have a say in the ways that studio supplies are purchased and used.
Artists can also benefit from cooperatives from a marketing and sales perspective. If you are working together in a co-op, you can hold a group sale and split some percentage of the overall profits. Rising tides lift all boats and you each individually benefit from the others’ networks. If a fellow co-op member brings in their community to a sale, that’s many more eyes on your work and a higher likelihood of sales.
Cooperatives give artists a formal space to share knowledge and skills. If a piece of equipment breaks in your private home studio, you only have access to your personal network and the internet. If you have an issue with equipment, you have a number of other highly-skilled minds to help you troubleshoot – and who are invested in the problem getting solved because your equipment is their equipment, too!
But, most importantly, there is security in collectivity. By sharing ownership cooperatively, you share both risk and reward. You become less isolated, and better equipped to weather the whims of clients, contractors, buyers, and the market more generally.
Why Artist Cooperatives are Important Now
In the wake of COVID-19, we’ve seen with fresh urgency how few resources are really there for artists in a crisis. Emergency grants for individuals are necessarily limited, and government funding hasn’t been nearly enough. The structures that we have to protect us are not sufficient. We need to build our own. Supporting this is a recent local study on the Arts and Covid.
In many communities, including ours, the cost of both housing and studio space continues to soar. With the housing crisis, many artists have been renovicted and watched their studios be turned into living spaces. The problem is that artists need both - living and working spaces!
How this project helps with Housing in Nelson
Nelson has a housing crisis! The beautiful part of this project is that by cooperating with a bunch of local organizations (ie, Nelson and Area Economic Development Partnership, Community Futures, the Kootenay Coop Country Store, etc) on our acquisition of this property, we are making another parcel available for the creation of workforce housing! The property is being sold as two separate parcels, one with the building and one without. The undeveloped lot just under an acre, and there is a plan for it to be developed into workforce housing! Both projects need each other to move forward. By funding this project, you will not only be supporting the arts and culture of this town, but also helping to bring more housing to Nelson!
What Creative Exchange strives for
At Creative Exchange Cooperative we aim to work together to provide:
safe, affordable & sustainable workspace
Ensure economic and environmental sustainability of the arts community
Improve accessibility to tools and technology often impractical or unaffordable for private studios
Encourage innovation through intra- and inter-medium collaboration and skill-sharing
a creative business incubator
Provide affordable business services to artists such as marketing, sales, photography, etc.
Facilitate relationships between members and the local economy for raw supplies, labour, and customers.
Help develop, sustain, and transition the careers of artists through skill-building workshops, mentorship programs, etc
Work with community partners to fill gaps in support services for members
community & tourist engagement
Address artistic isolation by fostering a regional, peer to-peer creative community, decreasing artist isolation
Welcome locals and tourists to engage, observe, learn, and purchase directly from working artists.
Facilitate opportunities for community building, reconciliation, and equity through shared creative experiences.