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The foundry hackaton... short and long update..

Dear Friends...

The Foundry Hackaton happened Thursday evening from 6 to 9p at the workbar on prospect street.  The event was attend by 12 people representing different area of cambridge and expertise.  Thx to all of you for attending and helping move the Foundry project.  I would also like to mention that this was only the first of a series of Hackathon will be holding over the next couple of months.  Our goal is to have, asap, a uses and management structure we can present to the city and city council as working proposal for the Foundry.

We spend the evening defining in broad terms the mission of the Foundry, possible uses and possible management structure and ideas...


The result:

We all agreed on the name:

        The Cambridge Foundry

On the mission, I’ll let you choose:

  1. Forging community through the arts
  2. Forging community, culture and economic growth through the arts

here is the cloud of words which come up, while we brainstorm over possible mission statement :

creative community, nurture love of the arts, learning and development, a full range of arts, keeping Cambridge Cambridge, art center to complement technology, a lightening rod for arts organisations, community participation, self supporting, self sustain, fulfilling a giant need, not for profit, for the old, young and inbetween, to fulfill its namesake, a magnet for people, a place for all ages, explosive, collaborative, music, a place for making sharing and learning, a performance and rehearsal space, a civic hall, a place for business experiment, experimental, innovative, a place for unexpected things, an arts home, a destination, a community drive

We then broke into group to come up with 60 seconds elevator pitches for possible uses, here were the starting point we laid out:

        How much space needed?

        What will you do?

        How much rent will you pay?

        How will you contribute to “living foundry/culture”?

        What is community benefit?

Here you can see all except one of the pitch...:

dan from ilan levy on Vimeo.

michael from ilan levy on Vimeo

jaquith from ilan levy on Vimeo.

nadeem from ilan levy on Vimeo.

sean from ilan levy on Vimeo.

ilan from ilan levy on Vimeo.

Here is a brief of the ideas, in random order of how the sheets were when I came home:

  1. Black box theater/Performance space
  2. Spaces for artists and groups, if possible live-in, awarded every 6-12 months.
  3. Live make space: 50-60 units of viable arts businesses and services
  4. Library/Maker space mashup
  5. Multi Art Use specific rehearsal/studio space and exhibition spaces: ie Music rehearsal and performance space, visual arts studio and exhibition space, ... each manage as timeshare/zipcar, to maximize uses
  6. construction spaces for building theater sets, customs... same spirit as maker spaces.. no need for renovation it can happen now...!

The pitch session was followed by a very lively discussion about management and culture for the Foundry.  A few things we all agree on:

  1. The primary objective is for building to remain a city asset.
  2. The Foundry is dedicated to the arts
  3. The rents have to be low $10-20 per square foot.
  4. Whomever is granted full or partial use of space within the wall of the foundry will have to commit to giving back, provide services, to the foundry community, ie:
  1. a music teacher who rents rehearsal space would have to teach or render some other music related service.
  2. a theater group using space would have to do a free performance once a year, or some equivalent.
  3. a for profit selling or making something would have to teach or offer similar service for free to members of the community.
  1. The Foundry should provide space to non-profit
  2. The Foundry should be financially self sustainable
  3. Part of the space should have ‘permanent’ hosts fostering long term growth and continuity.
  4. Part of the space should have temporary hosts fostering an organic living environment/culture embracing innovation and experimentation.
  5. We agreed that the financial management portion, ie: the whom that pays the bill.. should be viewed in the long term, ie: Plan E type of idea, how ironic... :)... where either the city or a not for profit would take care of daily operations.  

Now to the very important question:  How do we do this..?

I think 2 main ideas come about:

  1. A board: a body which would review application for space and making decisions based on a set of predefine criterium.
  2. The problem: How do we set up such a board to be transparent and having our full trust?  (how many members, who should they be, how do they get to the position, ...)

  1. Some form Crowdsourcing: using the same idea as crowdfunding where project have to gain support on a number of criteria.
  2. The problem: how do we manage who can vote, ie: cantabridgians only, everyone?  How do we implement?

I think a mix of both is the better solution.

The hackathon was a great success and I think we were able to layout the foundation to build on.  I urge you to all participate, make your contribution, join us at next hackathon, comment and current ideas, tell your friends about it, but most important of all by pushing the city council to act and act now to take our voices and opinions into high consideration... lets forge the Foundry into a beacon for the arts.