Makerspaces are fantastic resources in their communities, offering classes and tools to aspiring and expert makers alike. But how do you start a space? So You Want to Make a Makerspace is a workshop, held on the World Maker Faire grounds, that explains how to get you started. Presenter Gui Cavalcanti helped found Artisan’s Asylum, one of the most successful makerspaces in the world. Attending the workshop are thirty aspiring makerspace founders including representatives from schools, libraries, and museums.
How do you measure success in a makerspace? Artisan’s Asylum sports 350 paying members, 250 student members, 240 volunteers, 150 instructors, they’ve taught 600 classes with 3,500 unique students, and member projects have raised $4 million in Kickstarter funding and $3.5 million in venture capital. One of the most intriguing aspects of the space is that they have achieved gender parity — my own space is around 90% male.
However, Gui was quick to point out that AA is a very unique situation. The demographics of Somerville, MA, is close to a lot of industry as well as big-name engineering schools. It’s also a very dense city with 77,000 people crammed into a very small area with many residents don’t having room for workspace. As such, they were able to find enough members to support a huge (40,000 sq. ft.) space, and half of the members live within one mile.
It was inspiring hearing from all the guests about their motivation for being at the event. They’re from a very diverse set of backgrounds in terms of age and geographic origin, and about half the audience is female. They all come from different kinds of institutions and mostly don’t follow the stereotypical hackerspace model of a bunch of electronics enthusiasts hanging out in a warehouse.
One key point Gui made was that the desire to make and the motivation to find tools to fulfill that desire are qualities found everywhere, and these are the core of a successful makerspace.
We’ll be livetweeting the workshop all day — look for the hashtag makeamakerspace to follow along.