At the Moseley Creative Forum meeting last night (at which I was on the panel) the chair, Steve Harding, mentioned that the Community Development Trust which owns/runs the building had secured Â£300,000 of funding to completely renovate the main ground floor space. What was interesting was what they intend to do with it. After the event (which I think went rather well – I’d encourage Moseley creative types to go) I had a quick chat with the CDT manager Tony Thapar and jotted down some notes. Bear in mind I’m blogging this before they’ve made an official announcement so I might have gotten some of the finer details wrong, but the general gist I’m comfortable with.
Firstly, the money hasn’t just been handed to them by some quango. This has been a long process gathering funds from a variety of places including local donations. The final chunk came from the European Regional Development pot the 6 month application process for which was apparently a nightmare. So I’m guessing this has been fairly well thought through.
The basic plan is to offer a “third space” for freelancers and home workers, the majority of whom in Moseley tend to be in the creative industries. Facilities will include internet access, desk space, secure lockers and the ability to hire the upstairs rooms for meetings and presentations.
More importantly the space will enable folk to mix and network giving the creative community a base which isn’t a pub/cafe or someone’s kitchen. Essentially they’re looking at developing a Co-working space, something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently.
At its heart is a desire to provide something the community can use that will keep people in the area rather than forcing them to go to Digbeth or the Jewellery Quarter, especially for those just starting out or who don’t need a city centre office. There’s also, due to the concentration of SMEs, the opportunity for the business support orgs to use it as an outreach / info spot. And Tony was also keen to stress how the centre could be used to “bridge the digital divide” by providing computer-based tools and skills to those who feel left behind by all the nonsense the likes of me spout.
The beauty of this, as I see it, is that it’s not very prescriptive. There’s a space with facilities that people can use as they see fit. Of course making sure the basic facilities are suitable is the most important thing so I hope they’ll be using all the tools available to get this right. A blog or similar detailing the plans and facilitating feedback at the very least.
But yeah, I’m usually quite cynical about such things but this looks like a good un. Moseley-types – go get involved.