Linking Ideas

Arts groups want to create a shared space

Joey MacDonald, Bryan Skinner and Vanessa Pattison are spearheading an effort by three local arts co-ops to create something out of nothing.

Arts groups want to create a shared space

Three small Victoria arts co-ops have some big ideas.

Olio Artists and Workers Cooperative, CineVic Society of Independent Filmmakers and Victoria Makerspace help their members create some incredible things with extremely limited resources. But instead of continuing to do the best they can with what they have, they want to combine forces to create endless possibilities.

The three non-profits are launching an indiegogo fundraising campaign ( to build the InterArts Community Centre for Creators, essentially a centrally located, one-stop workshop for all things that fall under the popular DIY label.

But instead of doing it yourself, as the acronym implies, the InterArts centre is more about doing things together — a centre, built by the community, for all-inclusive use and inspiration.

Something out of nothing

By combining the equipment, people and resources of each cooperative, InterArts could be an unprecedented opportunity to make almost anything, but how far the idea goes depends on the support of the community.

“We’re trying to build a large space, and we’re trying to populate that space with everything we have,” says Joey MacDonald of Olio Artists and Workers Cooperative.

When MacDonald said those words in front of a sold-out crowd at a PechaKucha Night event in late November, the idea was met with cheers and applause — a strong indication that the creative community is craving a space to come together.

Whether you’re an aspiring woodworker or blacksmith who happens to live in a condo, a printmaker or filmmaker with no access to expensive equipment, a MacGyver type, or a fan of biohacking or playing with robots, the idea of InterArts could be the best thing since sliced bread. Better still if you can slice that bread with a laser cutter.

Victoria Makerspace

In 2010, Derek Jacoby created Victoria Makerspace (, a community shared workshop in Central Saanich.

Members have access to a full woodshop fitted with a drill press, mitre saw, band saw, table saw, lathe, sanders, and more; a metalworking shop with a portable stick welder, an arc welder and mig welder, air compressors, bench grinders, etc.; a propane forge, anvils, hammers and a vice for blacksmithing; plus a 3D printer, soldering station, laser cutter and a vinyl cutter.

Vanessa Pattison heard about Victoria Makerspace through a networking group and decided to take a blacksmithing workshop. She was so impressed by the space and the organization that she became a member and has since become quite involved in marketing the organization.

As founder of the Vancouver Island Mini Maker Faire, Pattison is also connected in the maker community and has experience bringing creators together.

The benefit of InterArts, says Pattison, is the, “potential to have a go at all those things you thought were out of reach.”

For those at Victoria Makerspace, accessibility is a top concern. Their current location is hidden from the road and a 20-minute drive from downtown. Not exactly friendly to cyclists.

“It would be nice to have a proper presence downtown,” says Pattison. “Sometimes it feels a little forgotten about.”

As a keyholder member ($100/month), people can use the workshop, housed in a double garage on private land, to work on their projects at their leisure, 24/7. A level-2 membership ($50/month) buys access when the building is open or by appointment with a keyholder. Members can also drop-in ($20/day). There is an open house every Tuesday between 7-9pm.

Makerspace also offers various workshops, including introduction to the laser, Sat., Jan. 19, $50.

CineVic Society of Independent Filmmakers

For more than 20 years, CineVic ( has been helping Victorians realize their visions in the medium of film.

Whether you want to make a music video or your first feature film, CineVic will not only rent you equipment, but they’ll guide you through the process.

“Only for works of personal expression,” says executive director Bryan Skinner. “Not for commercial projects.”

In all, CineVic helps create between 50-70 individual projects each year in Victoria. Membership fluctuates between 90-120 members annually.

The artist-run coop recently stepped into the world of 4K digital cinema with the acquisition of a RED Scarlet camera.

“It’s the baby brother of the Red Epic camera they used to shoot The Hobbit,” Skinner boasts like a proud parent.

“We’re agnostics when it comes to medium. We try to support both.”

CineVic recently partnered with the Victoria Film Festival to purchase a new HD deck and projector (now at the Vic Theatre), which are available for rent  to its members.

The society also offers production insurance ($2,000,000 general liability, $187,000 equipment liability) to its top level members for $150 for 10 consecutive days, something Skinner says would cost five times more commercially. They offer numerous workshops on writing, editing, cinematography, post-production and working with actors throughout the year and host a number of community film competitions and events (including the upcoming Short Circuit Short Film Festival, which just opened its call for submissions).

Membership allows you to rent equipment, but it also provides access to a network of likeminded individuals.

“They want to help you realize your dreams because they want your help realizing theirs,” says Skinner.

Currently located in an unassuming apartment-style, 900-square-foot commercial space in Oak Bay, CineVic is looking for a way to expand and to create more of a presence in Victoria. Moving downtown into a larger space with InterArts could just be the answer.

Skinner is also excited about opportunities for inter-disciplinary collaboration that the InterArts centre could provide.

“With all the construction and fabrication, there’s a possibility for set or art direction collaboration.”

Olio Artists and Workers Cooperative

Located in a 1,000-square-foot, second-floor space in Victoria’s historic Chinatown, Olio Artists and Workers Cooperative ( is a studio gallery and printmaking cooperative offering tools, space, workshops, supplies and exhibition opportunities to local artists.

For $30 a year, members have access to printmaking equipment, textile and flatstock screenprinting shop, button makers, large format printers, textile supplies and studio facilities.

“The space has always been big enough for what we do, but never big enough for what we want to do,” says Olio director Joey MacDonald.

“When Olio started, there always was the intention to expand,” says MacDonald. “We’ve always had space and capacity limitations … we want to take what we already do and improve on it.”

On top of the printmaking equipment, Olio also owns two Chandler & Price letterpresses, a Challenge proofing press, an Exclesior platen press, a hot foil press, a type bank and a healthy lot of binding equipment, which they plan to put in the InterArts space.

Modelled after similar community arts co-ops in places like Portland, InterArts would provide Olio members with access to more equipment and to inspiration from members of the other groups.

“Makerspace has a laser cutter and we have a letterpress,” says MacDonald. “As soon as I started thinking about the possibilities working with other groups, it made less sense for us to do it on our own.”

Create and Destroy

At this point, InterArts is only an idea, how far that idea goes depends on community support and donations. The current fundraising goal is $45,000, which would allow for some pretty amazing opportunities; not only would there be a huge multidisciplinary workshop, but there’s also talk of affordable office space for other non-profits, as well as professional workshop space (with banks of computers equipped with software like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator), resident artist studios, a cafe and gallery space.

The fundraising campaign for InterArts is officially launching Sun., Jan. 20 at 7pm at The Atrium (800 Yates, courtyard).

Incentives for donating include handmade “Create and Destroy” screenprints and T-shirts, as well as custom desk lamps and furniture, all by local makers.

Contingents from each arts co-op will be in attendance with demonstrations and information about what they do. Victoria Makerspace is said to also be working on some laser-cut appies, and Monday cover photographer Casey Bennett will be ready with an interactive photobooth.

Admission is free. Donations will be accepted.

“If this idea works, it will benefit everyone,” says MacDonald. “It will benefit people who have never done art and will benefit people who do art for a living. It will make stuff easier, but I don’t think easier is what we want. I think more productive is what we want. We want more.” M

Meet Your Makers InterArts Info Party

Sun., Jan. 20 • the Atrium (Courtyard) • 800 Yates

7-10pm • Entry is free, donations accepted

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