Crowdsourcing projects Transforms Old Library into an Arts Center

Published Feb-21-14

A crowdsourcing project creates a new arts venue in London.

Volunteers, United Kingdom

The Story:

Crowdsourcing projects Transforms Old Library into an Arts Center Crowdsourcing has been embraced by a number of cities and communities around the world as a way of funding or developing local projects, to solve issues and incorporate citizens more in the decisions that affect their lives. Often, people want to help, especially as they have a vested interest in the outcome.

Volunteers for a Vibrant Arts Center

The collective power, talents and expertise of a lot of people can be used to improve communities at the local level. In 2006 in the district of Clapham in southwest London an old Victorian library was closed by the council and put up for sale. The building had served residents for almost 125 years and they were determined to keep it open and not have it sold to a developer.

A small team of residents lobbied council authorities for seven years for a lease to open the building as an arts center. Eventually, the council agreed. This was a considerable triumph as local governments usually welcome the big money that comes from developers who buy formerly public properties.

The Power of the Many

What happened next was a demonstration of the power of the crowd as enthusiastic volunteers in their droves offered to help transform the old library into an arts hub. They came from many backgrounds and all offered their time and skills for free. Among the volunteers were students, the elderly, immigrants who had only been in the country a few weeks and working professionals who took time off from their jobs. Some were involved in renovation work, others in marketing, fundraising and production. They worked side by side with trustees who were all experts in their respective fields.

All the participants were united by a common goal and vision – to create a brand new arts destination that would cater for and enrich the lives of diverse groups of people.

Local crowds pulling together offer a slew of benefits. Among them are:

• Tapping into expertise for free – experts from your community hail from
different disciplines and can offer valuable input, be they painters and
decorators, lawyers, engineers or PR professionals.

• Clearer ideas – asking people what they really want ensures that only the
most important and relevant ideas get developed. In this case, crowdsourcing
is like a large focus group, and its saves money by only working on the things
that really matter.

• Better innovation – more minds can come up with more ideas, and some of
them may be just what you’re looking for. Discussions among individuals can
lead to solutions that local governments never even considered. In addition,
several brains tackling a problem are more likely to arrive at a solution than just

Arts Center Opens its Doors

The entire project was a resounding success and the new Omnibus arts center opened in 2013. The venue hosts plays, concerts, children’s shows, exhibitions, readings and films.

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