Arts & Cultural Vitality / 2013
Fuel LAs Creative Economy Help UNIQUE LA Build The Creative Lab!
UNIQUE LA has helped over 4000 artists/designers/entrepreneurs increase revenues and become sustainable businesses by selling their goods to the public. At the same time we've created a cultural institution and thriving community that supports local art, design, craft. It's time to take the next step in our mission of helping LA's art and design community... Our plan is to open the UNIQUE LA Creative Lab, a co-work & creative event space that would provide the much-needed tools that creative small business owners need in order to become sustainable and grow successfully. Creatives who work for themselves (artists, designers, furniture makers, freelancers, film makers, writers, etc.), are actually entrepreneurs and small business owners. They are curious, innovative and visionary... They also have to wear ALL the hats when owning a business - they are in fact their own PR firm, accounting department, marketing engine, HR manager. It's a lot to take on. They need help, guidance and a place to connect with a like-minded community so that they can thrive not just as artists but business owners. Someone who is creative should be able to be great at what they do, and make a great living doing it. UNIQUE LA’s Creative Lab will help ensure LA’s arts and culture community is growing strong, and growing smart. The Creative Lab will achieve this in two ways. First, it will provide a membership-based co-work environment, allowing people to share creative office and studio space (complete with a kitchen, board room, photo studio and more). And second, The Creative Lab will have an event space that will offer a diverse range of monthly and weekly programming, from workshops to a speaker series to parties and special events. All curated to ensure members and the public have access to continuing education, networking opportunities and inspiration. Every month we will feature a keynote speaker from world-famous artists to authors. Monthly workshops will range from “How to Find Investors” to “DIY Public Relations” to “Utilizing Social Media to Increase Profits”. Members will be invited to networking events with editors, to help them gain press attention. Trade show representatives will host How To seminars, helping designers learn how to grow by selling wholesale, instead of direct to consumer. Special events such as fashion shows will celebrate local talent and showcase new design and art. Imagine the amazing impact one space can have, when it TEACHES multiple generations how to be creative and make a living! Even better, it encourages and shows how to become a business that grows to support multiple employees! Aside from having an astounding impact on Arts & Culture in LA, The Creative Lab will actually touch on and help all eight sectors listed in the Goldhirsh Foundation’s LA2050 Report. Through programming, we will curate meaningful conversation, activities and hands-on workshops surrounding all eight areas – for instance we will host a ‘Volunteer Fair’ where local non-profits (from education to health to arts) can connect with members looking for places to volunteer. UNIQUE LA's Creative Lab is a ground-breaking new idea. The 2012 OTIS Report states "there are more artists, writers, filmmakers, actors, dancers and musicians living and working in LA than any other city at any other time in the history of civilization." It's time LA got a space designed to ensure those people - the creatives that are fueling the economy - are well-trained, inspired and ready to grow.
What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?
UNIQUE LA has created the largest buy local design show in the country - and is the only show to curate and show-off local-made talent. We have brought international attention to LA and its great makers (press mentions have included Details Magazine, Elle France, Uppercase). In four years we’ve had amazing successes and have expanded in many ways, but I think these numbers illustrate the great impact we’ve had.
- 232,000 people have attended UNIQUE shows
- We’ve provided a platform for sales and exposure for over 8000 independent designers + artists
- Occupied a total of 424,000 square feet!
- Produced shows in 3 cities, LA/NYC/SF
- An estimated $9.3 million has been spent at UNIQUE shows (all that money goes right back into the local economy)
Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.
We expect to include local designers and organizations, as well as some of our corporate partners such as West Elm and Square to help us in creating the space. We also plan to create a great Board of Directors to help mentor, assist with programming and more.
Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?
Success will be measured by how the Unique Creative Lab directly affects communities in the LA region. Indicators will be: 1) Attendance of workshops and events 2) Membership to co-work space 3) Press and media attention already engaging in Unique LA 4) Evaluation forms to hear from members and participants 5) Innovative ways to reach the public based on collaborative ideas coming from the Unique Creative Lab
How will your project benefit Los Angeles?
The Unique Creative Lab will directly impact Los Angeles is multiple ways and will benefit, and further fuel all sectors of the growing creative economy:
1) By directly increasing the amount of small business owners and entrepreneurs in the LA region.
2) By providing applicable resources for individuals, groups, organizations and communities to see their ideas to fruition.
3) By creating a diverse center of collaboration that reflects on and includes all demographics necessary in accomplishing a more creative and sustainable LA.
4) By providing curated programing to the public that will generate valuable and innovative discussion at a grassroots level.
5) By providing a co-work space available to creative professionals from across the US and the world, as allowing them to participate in the mission and goals of the Unique Creative Lab.
6) By bringing national awareness and media attention to our community and the joint mission of LA2050 and the Unique Creative Lab.
7) By becoming a successful and inspirational model of action for other communities and cities to follow.
What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?
In the year 2050 the image of “the starving artist” would no longer exist. We have grown to educate artists and creatives not just in art theory and practice, but also in business. Essentially we’ve shown creatives how to be entrepreneurs, ensuring a successful and thriving creative economy. There are more artists and also more small businesses run by artists. When asked what they’d like to be when they grow up, children give answers such as Furniture Designer and Architect just as often as Doctor and Lawyer. Our view of 2050 is that we’ve grown LA’s creative economy to be the best in the world, with bright stars and smart business owners. The Artist is no longer starving but successful and happy.