The term “makerspace” is gaining some currency these days and it may be the best word to describe a new effort, Modern Studio (FB Page), being mounted by Victor Agreda, Jr., Burke Brewer and Carolyn Corley. The three have leased the former Colonial Cleaners building at 109 W. Anderson, just a couple of doors down from the intersection of Anderson and Central in the heart of Happy Holler. It promises to be one of a number of recent projects in the area promoting a different view of work, production and use of space.
The building needs a lot of love, but I’m reminded of the condition of the building which became The Central Collective and I’m imagining the same kind of new life for this building. Fox and Fogerty, who also own the Knox Tenn Rentals, will do the build-out. They’ve been very supportive, feeling this is the kind of creative project they wanted in the space, saying they wanted to “offer something really unique to the community,” according to Victor.
I met Victor and Burke to discuss the project and we immediately made the connections through the Central Street corridor that are combining work spaces in unusual ways or dedicating a space to production of some sort. Ironwood Studios has been at it a long time, of course, but there is a wave of others including Makers Donuts who joined Magpies nearby making confections. Shulz Brau recently opened their castle to share the German beer they proudly produce. Both The Hive and Central Collective are comprised of a range of various occupations being pursued under one roof, often combining efforts and providing ongoing, unique programming.
Something of a similar sort will soon happen at Modern Studio. The idea was sparked when the three realized they each needed a work space. Carolyn, born in Maryland and a project analyst in Oak Ridge by day, has been a mainstay in local theatrical productions in recent years. She’d recently formed the Knoxville Performing Arts Exchange (KPAX) in an effort to “provide a stable, affordable venue to local performing arts groups in Knoxville.” Meanwhile, Victor, long-term Knoxville resident, was searching for a home for his “multimedia production studio,” Superpixel, and Burke, a Knoxville native, was in search of a space for her Modern Seamstress business.
Three very different businesses would seem to need equally different facilities to function. A little vision, however, and a building they feel suits their needs converged to produce the idea for Modern Studio. Plans have been developed for the building, which is essentially a shell waiting to be shaped to their needs. Those plans call for separate work spaces along the sides for both Superpixel and Modern Seamstress. A stage will be placed at one end in the center, which will be suitable for simple performances – whether theatrical or musical in nature – and the remainder of the space will be used for seating for performances.
But what of that additional space in the absence of a performance? The group plans to offer the space for private events, as well as utilizing it for internally generated events. They are picturing weddings and receptions, video conferences and webinars. It’s the perfect venue for bands to record live music, stream live performances to fans and to make music videos. All the equipment will be available. Particularly, the group is interested in having the space utilized to help people learn to make their own product, whether video, musical, sartorial or something entirely different.
Artists or others in need of work space might find it here and plans include offering a retail component for those involved. A quilter has expressed interest. Others have need for a space to meet customers for their various businesses. An embroiderer will likely sell her product in the space. And there will be others. Lockers are being included in the budget so supplies may be stored for the various people operating there part-time. The goal is to have “90% of the space utilized 80% of the time.”
They plan to start the build-out as soon as possible and would like for the space to be open in September or October, with theatrical productions to begin in January. It’s an ambitious timeline for an ambitious project and related costs are easy to imagine. They hope to avoid debt and only want the model to generate money to be self-sustaining, as they each have their own businesses – which, of course, they hope to grow as a result of having a permanent, dedicated space.
And they hope to have your help. An Indiegogo campaign offers that opportunity. As is typical with such campaigns, various rewards are offered for different levels of support, and some of them, such as your own personal video or garment, are pretty cool. You can also gain a membership for life and attend any event if you donate the right amount. They’ve got a good start, but they could use a lot more help and even small donations matter. Give if you believe in this kind of project and the energy it brings to a community. If you can’t give, share the project with your friends who may be able to do so and give them a “like” on their Facebook Page.
I’ll give them the last word on the project via a video recently posted to the fundraising site: