New research! Cultural roles of makerspaces (and roles of making in cultural spaces)

15 June 2016 Dee Halligan

On Monday this week we brought 20 or so experts together for a round (well rectangular) table to test drive some of our new thinking.

Our subject was the cultural roles that makerspaces and maker related programmes are increasingly fulfilling – by which we mean pursuing interests in ideas, meaning and expression over and above a more familiar focus on innovation and skills. Having mapped over 50 of these evolving spaces we proposed a kind of segmentation, clustering them into areas of interest and behaviours, and speculating about the new typologies and models which are emerging.

It was no surprise to get a strong showing in the room from our friends and colleagues in Copenhagen who we’ve been collaborating with while Daniel is visiting professor at CODE, the co-design research lab at KADK; additionally we had representatives from London, Manchester, Toronto and even Shenzhen joining us online, critiquing our new work, sharing experiences and considering possible and probable futures.

We’re set to develop this thinking into tools to help organisations to think through and form strategy and plans based on concrete analysis. We’re intending a small work in progress publication of this work, available in the summer. If you’d like to know what you need to know – get in touch!

Here’s what the invite said:

“We’ll be looking in detail at how makerspaces and maker programmes are evolving and intersecting with cultural spaces. What is the value of this activity, to individuals, organisations and other agendas, for example learning, commercial, community or civic? We’ll be asking: when a makerspace opens up a cultural offer, what is their motivation? And what do their rewards look like? Likewise when a library or a museum or a even a shop opens a makerspace, or creates a programme based on making what are their expectations? And are those expectations justified?”