[hackerspaces] Hackerspace crisis plan

Ben Brown ben at kwartzlab.ca
Wed Jan 23 15:55:07 CET 2013

A few thoughts without reading the entire thread...

On 1/22/2013 6:08 AM, David Francos wrote:
> Hi there.
> I'm from DegeneratedLabs, Zaragoza (Spain) Hackerspace.

Dubious name if you're trying to attract any sort of non-hackers (this
includes members and potential donators). You mentioned it's usually
shortened to d-lab, you should consider using that as your official name
instead. Branding (and by extension, advertising) is important when you
need to pay the bills -- you have to get the word out and attract
members. When we started, we promoted the space on social media, put
posters up in central areas, and went to local events with
pins/stickers/brochures and what not.

> It's probably the first time I write here, tought I've been lurking
> for a while.
> We've got a 2-year old hackerspace here, with a nice-as-hell space,
> but we've recently lost almost all of our members (three remaining,
> not much money)

Ask yourself, why did they leave? Financial issues (their own or the
space's), ideals and direction of the space, not enough xx
tools/whatever? Members who split can give you some important feedback
on what's not working at your space. Often, members may not tell anyone
what the problems are until they're out the door.

> We're thinking on alternative economic support stuff, we've got a few
> nice things (a 3d printer, two floors (one of them mostly used as a
> workshop and the other a a source for talks etc), lots of hardware,
> tools, fridges coffe machines, a huge library...)

Perhaps it's similar in Spain, but in Canada there are potential funding
sources (some with no strings attached whatsoever) that are available
from all levels of government (we had our best luck with a local arts
organization and a provincial project funding program). Also, we found
that by connecting with the local arts community, and we draw a lot of
interest (and potential funding) from that sector. You mentioned having
mostly artists now, perhaps there is a similar community in your own
area you can connect with? At Kwartzlab, we invite local artists to work
in the space (as an honourary member) for three months, in return they
put on a workshop and have a public art opening. We dedicate wall space
to this artist in residence to display their work. This connection led
to us receiving a large enough grant to buy a laser cutter for the space.

> Aside from that, we've got very poor access to people (We are
> currently FOUR people!).

Again, go out to all matter of local events. Setup a table, bring lots
of stuff to give out. Bring things that make noise! If you have local
publications, invite them in for a tour. We also found having an open
house every week at the same time was instrumental in bringing in new
folks. We had a good share of people become members through our Tuesday
Open Nights (7-10pm). Three hours a week gets a stream of new & frequent
people in to look around, bring in & show off projects, have impromptu
talks, etc.

The last thing I would stress (and this may just be the treasurer
talking) is stay on top of your finances. There are many spaces running
out of money because they can't track membership dues properly, or they
don't adhere to a budget. Operate within your means. That way you'll
survive long enough to attract more members and then you can afford to
expand/buy cool shit :)

Hope that helps!
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