WANT TO KNOW MORE?
WHAT IS BLOCK T?
BLOCK T is an independent artistic enterprise and a one stop shop for all things creative.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
It is quite difficult to put BLOCK T in a box and to say it only does one thing. In a nutshell, we are an instigator, creator and facilitator of culture. We are not afraid to take risks, try out new ideas and come up with creative solutions. It is the very joy of the imagination, and it’s limitless potential that we want to express through all that we do.
We have been operating in Smithfield, Dublin 7, from 2010 - 2016, during which we have piloted several creative projects.
1. Tully’s Tiles. Use of Vacant Space for Cultural Regeneration
The first of these projects saw us transforming a vacant space for cultural regeneration of Smithfield. It was an old tile warehouse factory that became the home of 12 artist studios, a gallery space, workshop space, darkroom facilities, multidisciplinary events and international exchange projects. This project illustrated the value and impact of artists and creatives making use of vacant lots, breathing new life into an underdeveloped urban area.
2. Haymarket House. Multidisciplinary Creative Community Development
Our second phase of development allowed us to expand our network of in-house creatives, offering memberships which spanned across the creative sector to include artists, musicians, festival organisers, writers, performers, graphic designers and more. Located in Haymarket House, Smithfield, we have been providing 70+ independently subsidised studio spaces and members programming. This expansion gave us the chance to develop greater workspace facilities, services and project opportunities for our members. This phase will be completed in March, 2016.
3. Showroom. Public Engagement, Retail and Networking
The third major activity cycle involved the opening of a multidisciplinary public hub, which housed the BLOCK T Coffee Dispensary, gallery space, event and networking venue, meeting rooms, screen printing studio, pop up shop and hot desk shared creative workspace.
This platform engaged with the public, expanded our services and developed greater relations with large audiences, our local community and the city. The provision of programming and workshops, allowed us to offer a place where people could learn, get together, share and showcase their work. The appetite for an open access networking and event space was evident during the two years of this pop up project. This community centre fully integrated BLOCK T into the local landscape, acting as a catalyst for various collaborations with other local business, festivals and creatives.
4. Collaborative Projects
BLOCK T acts as a connector and incubator for various in-house and collaborative projects. By offering space, advice and services we assist in the start up and development of ideas and ventures that we believe in. These projects include Skillsets (BLOCK T’s alternative educational programme), The Darkroom at BLOCK T, The Coffee Dispensary, BLOCK TV and Slipdraft.
In Summary, our activities, facilities and services include:
Memberships & Workspace
Studios, Hotdesks, Classrooms, Meeting Rooms,
Shared Creative Environments, Mentorship
Programming and Curation
Events, Exhibitions, Workshops, Talks, Markets,
Conferences, Performances, Experiences, Awards
Education & Workshops
Courses, Workshops, Masterclasses, Talks,
Exchange, Residencies, Internships, Research
Creative Services & Consulting
Concept Development, Project Management, Stage Design & Visuals,
Video & Audio Production, Branding & Graphic Design,
Consultancy & Think Tanks, Mentorship, Web Design
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
We aim to
Provide a professionally managed creative cluster in Smithfield, offering more support and facilities to our members for the development of their own creative potential.
Host and produce high quality artistic and cultural programming for the public, which contributes to our brand identity, commercial opportunities and creative networks while increasing our audience diversification.
Connect with people from diverse disciplines through various programmes and projects in order to showcase collaboration as a dynamic, effective approach in developing business.
Advocate for creative practitioners and entrepreneurs demonstrating their value to the reimagining of global urban environments.
Offer creative services to creative practitioners, organisations and businesses.
Develop BLOCK T and co-produced trademarks and intellectual property within the creative industries.
Become a valued source for information on the creative industries by providing cataloged and searchable multimedia content through our main public platforms.
WHY DO YOU DO IT?
We believe that creativity enriches people’s lives and that self expression is a fundamental element of happiness and health.
We trust it is possible to influence societal change through cultural engagement.
Creativity plays an integral role in community development, the tourism industry, the economy and the cultural life of the city.
We know we have a capacity to build provisions, structures and facilities that support and nurture innovative thinking and high quality creative output.
We love connecting people from all walks of life. The synergy created by the clustering effect and the cross pollination of abilities and talent, calls for unique ways of thinking and pioneering creative solutions.
Because we love it.
WHO FOUNDED BLOCK T?
BLOCK T was founded by a group of seven. Coming from different backgrounds and skill base, we brought unique expertise to this multi faceted project. Each one of us has a passion for community and culture and upholds the belief that creativity needs to be nourished and supported for the greater good of society.
Not all of the co-founding team knew each other from the beginning, we were brought together with the united cause of an independent social and cultural project. Some of the co-founders had been working as professional artists, educators and managers for numerous projects and businesses in the artistic and hospitality sectors, and some others were recent graduates of NCAD.
BLOCK T Co-founders are:
Laura Garbataviciute-Dovn, Ben Readman, Joe Salam,
Simon Mckeagney, Grace McEvoy, Nick Linders, Lili Heller
To read more about BLOCK T’s team click here.
WHEN DID YOU BEGIN, AND WHY?
BLOCK T was founded in the direct wake of the Irish financial crisis (2008 - 2009) and a budget dubbed “the most austere Budget in the history of the State” (Irish Times, 12.12.09) and “the harshest in generations” (New York Times, 09.12.09).
The intention behind it was to create a viable and sustainable entity which would contribute to the generation of jobs in the creative industries and to the regeneration of Smithfield Square its surrounding areas. When the opportunity to reinvent the vacant Tully’s Tiles warehouse into a creative hub presented itself, it was a natural fit.
We saw the need for a multidisciplinary creative space where people could work, exchange their ideas, get together, and develop projects individually and collectively. This integrative approach to services, platforms and facilities significantly contributed to BLOCK T’s success, allowing it to reach and connect to large and diverse audiences.
HOW ARE YOU FUNDED?
BLOCK T is primarily independently funded, we operated with no credit line and no loans, and with public funding making up only 2% of its annual turnover.
The economic climate at the time, with cultural funding being cut, required us to think different about sustainability and raising revenue. With this in mind we developed a hybrid business model which aligns the creative talent with revenue generating strategies and services. This model supports a number of revenue streams including membership schemes, premise and equipment hire, box office, workshops, classes and optimised ‘pay-as-you-go’ creative services, such as branding, marketing, design and consultancy. Additional revenue has been raised through fundraising, sponsorship, private funding and grant-aid.
Although a not-for-profit organisation, we understood the importance of a for-profit (to reinvest) approach that ensured BLOCK T’s financial stability and sustainability for the past 5 years.
This are revisiting this model for the new phase of BLOCK T’s development.
WHY DO YOU HAVE TO LEAVE SMITHFIELD?
The current model we are operating under, which independently provides subsidies for creatives, is no longer viable in the changing economic climate.
We are grateful to our landlords who have provided affordable space to us over the past 5 years, however, for us to be able to progress in the current economy we require permanent or long term solutions.
In the next phase of development we are refocusing our strategy to include raising investment capital, start up funding and long term leases (or loans for buying), as well as capitalising on our creative service portfolio.
WHAT ARE THE SOLUTIONS?
We are seeking long term investment, philanthropic donations, partnerships and start up funds to begin our new project cycle.
We are looking for a new site, which we would either have a long term or permanent lease on, or the start up capital to buy a property, which we can develop over a number of years.
We are also aiming to capitalise on our creative network, online platforms and service portfolio, acting as a one stop shop for all things creative. For this we are seeking new collaborations, creative service providers and capital.
Policy development and government support:
Further policy development is pertinent to ensure more adaptability and flexibility for social and cultural innovators in changing markets. An economic case for the cultural impact on society and its development has to be measured, formalised and integrated on a governmental level.
Clustering and collaboration:
Collaboration still remains one of the foundational cornerstones for innovation, reinventing and pioneering sustainable cultural development.
WHAT IS YOUR PLAN?
Looking for long term alternative facilities and a short term base.
Seeking funding and capital to support the next phase.
Engaging in conversation with local councillors, government and development bodies for representation, long term provisions and support.
Uniting with other creative spaces and similar organisation to advocate for policy development.
Developing a long term business strategy.
HOW DO YOU SEE BLOCK T DEVELOPING LONG TERM?
For our team to bring its future vision forward we are currently revisiting our business model, its strategies, resourcing and services.
Firstly, our vision is to have a large permanent facility, or multiple facilities, which knit together all phases of BLOCK T’s projects while further integrating into the local community through inclusive programming, education and outreach. This vision would encompass multidisciplinary workspace, programming and memberships, innovation and ideas lab, community development and collaborative projects, international residencies and exchange, online platforms and a public networking space.
BLOCK T would also continue to act as an instigator and incubator of grassroots projects and creative start ups, providing them with services, facilities and mentorship. This provision would make up our dynamic service portfolio as an offering to future clients, partners, and collaborators, further solidifying our vision as being a one stop shop for all things creative.
It is important to realise that BLOCK T is not only a building confined by its geographical location and physical space. BLOCK T is also an eco system that can exist and grow through virtual platforms. These virtual systems hold the opportunity to expand our reach, network and services globally, diversifying our offering and positioning us as a unique cultural enterprise. These virtual platforms we seek to develop long term include an online broadcasting channel, design and craft store, creative network and service directory, research and resource facility and online gallery.
BLOCK T’s most important long term goal is the revitalisation of local economies through attracting highly-skilled artistic workers and hosting versatile and integrative programming. Our organisation aims to improve Dublin’s economic and cultural prospects by building and testing innovative business models and through the generation of sustainable creative capital. This scalable model and its unique methodologies could become pioneering prototypes that could be patented and applied to various new and exiting cultural organisations.
HOW CAN I HELP?
Join the conversation, follow our social media platforms and engage in our campaigns
Share our message to seek for capital, funding and space
Advocate for creative space as necessary in community and planning
Help fundraise for our future facilities and programmes
Volunteer your service and time for the next phase of BLOCK T’s development
Donate by clicking the button on our website or on our future crowd funding campaigns
Send us feedback about how BLOCK T has influenced your life or community