create / 2014

A Physical Space for the WCCW

A Physical Space for the WCCW

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Women's Center For Creative Work

An all-female shared creative workspace & community site for workshops, events, & conversations about contemporary feminisms.


Please describe yourself.

Proposed collaboration (we want to work with partners!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

An all-female shared creative workspace & community site for workshops, events, & conversations about contemporary feminisms.

Does your project impact Los Angeles County?

Yes (benefits a population of LA County)

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • South LA
  • San Gabriel Valley
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South Bay
  • Westside

What is your idea/project in more detail?

The WCCW has existed nomadically through events, workshops, residencies, and site-specific projects for over a year, and is looking to establish a permanent, physical home base beginning in early 2015.

Specifically, the space would house individual studios/offices, as well as a large communal workspace that would also serve as an exhibition space, workshop site, and home for shared resources like tools, printers, equipment and a library. We also hope to have a store that would sell arts, crafts, and goods made by WCCW members, supporting their individual creative practices and the WCCW at large.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

In many ways the Women’s Center for Creative Work is well underway! We have a strong community of women makers who are already attending Women’s Dinners, going to and leading workshops, taking part in our “Workers in Residence” program at our residencies, and in general giving their support to the WCCW in real life and online.

Women often have multi-faceted practices, balancing their time as producers, makers, workers, mothers and partners. The WCCW is a proposed answer to this challenge, offering a collective workspace to provide an environment of solidarity and community, a sanctuary where women with all sorts of small businesses, artistic practices, and personal projects can come get some work done within a supportive atmosphere.

To implement the next phase of the WCCW –a permanent physical location, we would need to find that right location, do the appropriate build-out and remodeling, activate our community to find women to be in residence in the studios in the space, and continue to grow our network. The LA2050 grant would make this all possible in one fell swoop, but we also have plans in place for fundraising.

If receiving this grant, The Women’s Center for Creative Work would continue to host workshops, events, and exhibitions and the like as we have already been doing throughout our research and development year. The crucial difference would be that we’d have a permanent location to hold our communal workspace and activities. Space is important in Los Angeles. Having a permanent location would allow us to foster community in a physical way and build the foundational support necessary to gr

How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to CREATE today? In 2050?

Los Angeles is a collection of nodal centers, some very spread out from each other. In order to cultivate community in this rhizomatic city one has to be very deliberate–most of us get in our cars and drive somewhere rather than walking along the street. This lack of street culture leads to a brevity of the sort of chance interactions that can be very generative, creatively and otherwise. With a permanent physical space, the WCCW could function as a gathering place and foster an environment which allows for chance meetings and conversations as well as more formalized events, exhibitions, and workshops.

We believe the best places for creation have a built in community to discuss ideas, help out with big projects, support makers physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, financially, etc…. We value both craft and high art, but are not into the hierarchy that separates them. We’re into constantly learning, sharing ideas and skills, and making it easier for women to get work done (whether this means a child care co-op, a tutorial offered on web design, or someone to help build a shipping crate). We endeavor to make visible the invisible labor that makes up a community: stacking chairs, creating spreadsheets, cooking a group meal, managing a facebook page.

We are feminists and we believe all these things, from administration to organization building, can be done from a feminist perspective. WCCW already embodies these visions and principles in its nomadic form and they would translate naturally to the physical space, making it an excellent place for women to create, foster relationships personal and professional, and participate in the cultivation of our ever-growing community.

Whom will your project benefit?

Creative women of all kinds will benefit from the space, especially those whose jobs/projects are of a more freelance nature, which is so common in this city: screenwriters, graphic designers, small business owners, stylists, comedians, landscape architects, etc… would have a place to come work within a supportive environment, proving a welcome alternative to having to take meetings at Starbucks. Through our varied activities and interests, we endeavor to make the WCCW as open and welcoming to all women as we possibly can and are particularly committed to intergenerational and cross-cultural conversations around women’s creative work.

Events, exhibitions, and educational projects would also offer anyone interested in creative production in Los Angeles, the chance to engage with the WCCW and it’s members.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

We constantly work with collaborators and partners, and inevitably there would be many involved in this project, but none that have been specifically identified yet.

How will your project impact the LA2050 “Create” metrics?

  • Employment in creative industries
  • Arts establishments per capita
  • Jobs per capita
  • Minority- and women-owned firms
  • Percentage of graduates from local higher education institutions that remain in LA County 5 years after graduating (Dream Metric)
  • Unemployment rates (and opportunities) for the formerly incarcerated (Dream Metric)

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.

The Women’s Center for Creative Work would be another exciting arts and cultural organization in Los Angeles. It would directly create jobs within the creative economy and indirectly through connections made between women through the organization. The organization is women, owned, run and operated and we endeavor to create opportunities for women of all backgrounds to become involved. We hope that by creating opportunities and community within the city, and support systems for creative practices outside of the academic systems., that graduates will stay in Los Angeles County after they graduate.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

-Sustainability of the WCCW model.

-Number of women who become members and/or use the space for their creative production, and their feedback.

-Number of people who attend workshops, events, exhibitions, etc…

-Formalized feedback from our community members who utilize the space on various levels in the form of interviews and roundtable discussions, the transcripts of which we will include in a publication about the first year of the project.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

  1. People in LA are craving physical community: The WCCW started off with a Women’s Dinner (still our signature event). That first dinner was intended to be a one-off projects, but people asked us over and over when the next one would be, and when we did the next one, questions arose about how to keep this energy going. We realized from this feedback that there is a real need for intentional community in Los Angeles. People are excited about the opportunity to connect in a space: over working, over making, over friendship. Our cultural climate has this strong sense of digital connectivity through social media, but what we’ve learned is that digital model is a bit vacant, and people are hungry for real physical community in real physical space.

  2. You can do more and do it better when you work together: The WCCW started as a collective project of Katie Bachler, Kate Johnston, and Sarah Williams, but as it grew we found we needed more helping hands. When we started to collaborate with others on a project-specific basis, like with the Feminist Reading group run by Dawn Finley, the workshops we do with Otherwild, the Feminist Storytelling parties we do with the Gal Palace, we realized how much more full and prolific the community became. We will keep expanding our network and collaborators list as we grow.

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

We would spend two months scouting out potential spaces and securing a rental. As our community is largely centered on the East Side of LA, we hope to find an open warehouse-type space near Downtown, Chinatown, or East L.A. We would spend two months building out the space into 8-10 separate studio/office spaces based on the size, and a large communal space. During this build out time, we would be in conversations with our network to make sure that the studio spaces would be filled as soon as the building was able to be occupied. We should be able to attend to the physical aspects of the space in under 6 months, and be able to spend the following 6 months building community within it via programming such as exhibitions, forums, workshops, conversations and events, as well as running the shared workspace.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

  1. Finding a suitable space that we can afford on an ongoing basis, and securing a long lease on it.

I think it may take some time to find the right place, but we have a couple friends in commercial real estate that are excited about the prospect of helping us secure a location.

  1. Figuring out how best to build out the space to maximally support what will happen within it.

We have already been thinking about a series of conversations with architects and designers about the best way to create a space that supports the kind of activities and energy we hope to fill it with. There are a few people in our network who are particularly passionate about it, and I think the “problem” of figuring out how to do this, will be a very generative process.

What resources does your project need?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)
  • Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)