Museums are entering an era of deep change in their physicality. Meant to elevate our spirit, educate us and teach about history, they are becoming economic agents of our society and ACMIX is one of the most relevant and newest examples, of a “next generation creative hub”. Last May 2016, the Australian Center of Moving Image of Melbourne launched a huge co-working space open to the public fully attached to ACMI offices to facilitate creative and innovative cooperations.
1. One of the aim of ACMI X is to become a fertile ground for creativity, but gathering people isn't always enough to connect. How do you help them really mingle and build a community?
Its not enough just to create proximity between people - particularly of different disciplines where the synergies may not be immediately obvious. We have consciously invited practitioners and businesses in that have a range of practice and output to encourage cross disciplinary conversation, to help peers to inspire each other to think about new approaches and new ways of working - and potentially to foster new collaboration.
At ACMI X we have a number of ways to find connections - not only between the tenants in the co-working space, but between the 80 ACMI staff and the 10 staff from the National Film & Sound Archive's Melbourne office which also co-locates with us. We have dedicated significant space to create a social space - it houses a well appointed kitchen (with excellent coffee machine) and a light bright area where people use for their meetings but also for having their lunch. Its has the obligatory ping pong table and some arcade video games, and also doubles as an events space, for up to 120 people.
In this space we program meet ups, show and tell sessions from ACMI X tenants, expert speakers and panellists (this week we have Julia Kaganskiy for an in conversation from New Inc), we work with a range of other partner organisations which also use the space. Interestingly the co-workers have been most consistently engaged with the skills development sessions we run - across rights issues, legal and financial systems and structures etc. That how to stuff is so important - be they are theatre company or an app developer or a youtube aggregator.
Another very important aspect of the co-working space is the partnerships with two universities - University of Melbourne and RMIT. Both institutions have taken 6 desks each - the former through their Arts & Humanities faculty, the second through Media and Design. We are in the very early stages of the partnerships, but the vision is to a) enable university students and staff to develop connection with ACMI and industry in very direct ways but b) to develop collaborative research projects over time, not only with ACMI but with practitioners.
- How do you involve curators and other ACMI staff at ACMI X?
Importantly ACMI X houses all of us together - 150 people all up - and the co-working space is part of our space, and not separated in any way. So we sit near each other every day, and talk whilst making coffee.
We are finding lots of opportunity for collaboration and this is happening quite organically. Most of the businesses or practitioners we house relate in some way to the moving image industries and therefore cross over with the work we do every day - indeed that was part of why we set up the co-working space! So recently we presented a VR day as part of Melbourne International Games Week - both VR focussed resident companies (VRTOV and Jumpgate VR) participated in talks and were able to showcase their work. On October 31 we launched our most recent commission - an adaptation of a digital theatre piece Ghost Toasts and Things Unsaid into a VR installation piece - by Sandpit (based at ACMI X) with Grumpy Sailor and Google Creative. https://www.acmi.net.au/exhibitions/ghost-toast-and-things-unsaid/
The Interaction Consortium are working on the backend of our new website, with their excellent product GLAMkit. Little Big Shots, a children film festival, is based at ACMI X and they have long been a festival we partner with and present in our cinemas.
- Is having the brains of the future of moving image in your walls initiating new collections or exhibitions opportunities?
Yes it is - we opened the co-working space in May and by October had presented our first commission. And that will continue with ACMI X members feeding into our curatorial processes as required.
- What are your 5 takeaways you can share with our museum community to be able to open a successful co-working space in a museum?
- Be open and share. There was some initial reluctance to have the co-workers in the same secure space as all of us - but having our co-workers so readily nearby as our staff is already bringing wonderful benefits to everyone and creating connection that otherwise wouldn't be possible.
- Resource it properly - it has to be adequately staffed as a project like this not only requires substantial administration but needs a dynamic creative producer focus to enable and leverage the connections and opportunities of the space. Ensure you set up a sustainable financial model that can pay for a great person to drive the show
- There are numerous successful models - and ours is still evolving. ACMI X is a co-working space with an associated industry program, Mahuki at TePapa is much more of a project driven incubator/lab based model as is New Inc at the New Museum. We are looking at developing a short term lab project alongside the ongoing co-working space - and will continue to evolve the project - but there is lots of potential funding available as governments understand the importance of the small to medium sector and the value of 'creative tech' in the start-up space...
- Why are you doing it? It’s important to be clear why you are doing it - and that philosophy will then drive the way you set up the project and how you connect it into your organisations on a daily basis but also how you connect it to you audience. For ACMI, a relatively young museum, we want to build a community of 'ownership' across the moving image industries, we want to leverage our substantial resources back into the sector, we want to illuminate the process of creation and development for our audiences, and as a State funded museum we want to align to the broader context the government's strategies.
- Make it a beautiful space to be in - that has been vital for our staff and for our tenants. Six Degrees Architects have done a wonderful job, and it’s a great space to work in that is permeable and open, yet highly focussed and productive.
And to go deeper in your understanding of creative spaces in museums, register to our webinar “Makers + Museums = Love” next 9 December at 6PM (GMT+1)!