Having a physical space in which to gather is an integral part of community building. However, many organizations in the non-profit and arts sectors struggle to find a home base in Alberta.
Enter Spacefinder, a free platform created by developers in New York City that was brought to Alberta by Calgary Arts Development and friends three years ago.
This platform provides informative listings for spaces available for short-term rent, simultaneously cutting down on time that organizations spend searching for a space and that managers spend answering the same questions about their space all day – allowing both parties to allocate more time to their original mandate.
“It’s like a matchmaking tool for spaces,” says Joni Carroll, Arts Spaces Consultant at Calgary Arts Development.
“We love it.”
The sheer variety of spaces available is one of Carroll’s favourite things. From libraries and community halls to religious buildings, and even a commercial kitchen inside an old folks’ home, Carroll says Spacefinder provides opportunities for these facilities to “break out of their silos,” and she stresses it’s not just for artists either.
“For example, a small food-based business could utilize that kitchen in the old folks’ home.”
Kari Watson is an integral part of the Spacefinder team at Calgary Arts Development, armed with an intimate knowledge and appreciation each listing she helps organizations find the space they need and will even sit down with people to walk them through the listing process.
Over the past year, the Calgary Arts Development team have been taking a hard look at the Spacefinder platform, and where any gaps may be. Carroll says she’d love to see more spaces based east of Deerfoot listed on the website, in addition to Indigenous-owned and operated spaces across Calgary.
“Calgary Arts Development are really strong advocates of placemaking,” she says. “And we believe that a huge part of placemaking is all the creative talent that we have in Calgary – using artists and arts organizations and their work for creative placemaking.”
“We see Spacefinder as a way for people to let the community know that they are welcome in their space.”