August 24th, 2019

Eye on the Esplanade: SpaceFinder touches down in Medicine Hat

By Medicine Hat News on June 2, 2017.

When I was in Theatre School, I was involved in the creation and production of several small next-to-no-budget projects with a local theatre company. We found any available space we could and turned it into a performance space, even going so far as to spend a couple of months renovating an old department store in downtown Red Deer and transforming it into an ad hoc performance space that was used for several years. The creation and development of all types of art has been challenged for years with one major issue, space. There has always been a fundamental disconnect between artists who need to use it and the venues who want to fill it.

A new project, spearheaded by Calgary Arts Development, aims to help with just that. SpaceFinder Alberta launched in June 2016 as part of the North American SpaceFinder project developed by Fractured Atlas, a New York based non-profit that eliminates barriers for artists through the development of new technology. The program aims to connect venues, community groups, artists and the general public. Below is an excerpt from http://www.alberta.spacefinder.org that explains why the program is so vital:

Many groups in the creative, non-profit and small business communities need space for meeting, creating, rehearsing, presenting, collaborating, gathering or celebrating. They spend considerable resources trying to find suitable and affordable spaces.

On the flip side, venues spend significant resources trying to find the right renters for their spaces. These might include commercial renters to cross?subsidize non-profit rentals, or it might be renters who fit the venue’s mandate (e.g., youth and education).

SpaceFinder Alberta will strengthen the creative, non-profit and small business sectors with an online marketplace for hourly, daily, weekly and longer-term rentals. From the user’s standpoint, SpaceFinder Alberta will streamline the search for appropriate and affordable space. From the venue’s point of view, it will bring more awareness to the community about facilities.

The program originated in New York and has been expanding across North America with 20 cities and regions currently participating and another five coming online in the near future. The site boasts in excess of 5,000 sites in its catalog and services more than 500,000 searches annually.

The best part though is that use of and access to the SpaceFinder service is free for both renters and those looking for space. Thanks to Calgary Arts Development, venue owners here in Medicine Hat will have access to a summer student who will work with any interested party to put their venue data into the SpaceFinder system, putting our city “on the map and in the system.”

From audition spaces to film screenings to art exhibitions, there is a space for every artist and organization. This project aims to connect everyone in one online community allowing artists to find the space they need and venues to promote the spaces they have. Artists will be able to spend less time renovating old department stores and more time creating art.

If you are interested in learning more about SpaceFinder in Alberta please contact sfabmedicinehat@gmail.com.

Trampas Brown is director of theatre and event operations at the Esplanade.

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