MakeShare: amplifying local creatives

woman looking at art on a wall
MakeShare is a new online arts hub launched in summer 2021.

MakeShare is a project of the Local Arts + Culture Society of Victoria that was built by local creatives for local creatives. 

The MakeShare concept was developed based on an apparent need for one shared platform to showcase the work of local artists (of all kinds) through a website, creative directory, local online store, funding platform and live events and markets. It’s a directory of local creatives, but also an online marketplace, a funding platform and online arts hub, a place to connect and collaborate, a place to hire someone or find a service, and a member-powered membership.

The concept of MakeShare was founded by Amanda Smith, who has worked in the local arts and culture scene in Victoria for the past 25 years.  

Over the past 10 years, Smith has produced 19 PechaKucha Nights, where 10 speakers deliver a 6.5 minute visual presentation (in the PKN format of 20 images in 20 seconds), shown on a large screen to an audience of 150, on a wide variety of topics including their art, film, photography, design, travel, invention, innovation, story, architecture, community.

“When COVID shut down live events, I tuned in to a virtual PKN hosted out of Tennessee (PKN is hosted in over 1200 cities around the world) and listened to a presentation about something there called The Maker City, which is basically a local directory of makers and creators (plus an annual Maker Summit),” says Smith.

A spark was lit for her and MakeShare began to take shape.

Nurturing the business of creativity

“For past PechaKucha Nights I have asked 200+ creative local folks to speak and share and know that Victoria is absolutely brimming with SO many creative folk!  So, I thought, let’s create a multi-genre creative directory, but make it beautiful, and give each maker a full page full of great content and imagery and list of their local collaborations, hence developing a creative network,” says Smith.

“I quickly realized that it was not enough to build a directory, that it needed more layers, more levels of support and better connective tissue. I asked myself what I would want for and from our local community, how could we combine our forces, amplify our exposure, create more opportunities for collaboration, innovation and ultimate success.” 

Hence other components of MakeShare were developed; the online store (MarketPlace) for artisans to sell their products, the funding platform (Fund-a-Maker) for members to receive direct online funding (like a mini Patreon), and finally the Membership (an annual membership).

Smith wanted to create a membership package where members would feel like they are receiving outstanding value, great representation, enhanced exposure to new opportunities and collaborations, and feel like they are a part of something innovative and have access to a membership card that they could use around town for a myriad of discounts and products. 

“I wanted to create more of a bridge between cool local businesses and local artists, makers and creators and invited 14 local businesses to come on board as community partners – to help launch MakeShare, increasing the value of the membership and in turn benefitting the businesses via increased community presence in the local Arts scene and via increased exposure and sales,” she says.

MakeShare Members can use their card for various perks, gift cards, products, ongoing discounts and more with our community partners: Root Cellar, Metropol, Rock Bay Market, KWENCH, ASH Refillery, EIR Mobile Medicine, Island Blue Print, Sea Cider, Print House, Abeego, Renée Leighann Art + Design, Folklife Media + The Makehouse.

Having come up with a concept she liked, Smith was then tasked with building it out during the pandemic. “I realized very quickly that the concept I had designed was multi-layered (which is how I designed it),” she says, “and would take a while to build and would also take some time to explain to people.” 

“I believe that creativity is amplified when shared and that if the right opportunities are offered, our local Arts scene can become more unified, stronger and more resilient, creating viability for many individuals and small groups and businesses. “ 

Local love fuels venture

Smith is passionate about staying local.

 “Although MakeShare has global potential (in some ways), we are passionate about being, sharing, eating, creating local. And for us, local is defined by Southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.”

She plans to expand the potential and capacity of the MakeShare funding platform and online store in the coming months and will also be venturing back into live markets late Summer and events in late Fall.

Since MakeShare is dynamic, with many layers, Smith is keen to see if one aspect generates more interest than others, with regards to the store, funding platform, directory etc.

“In five years, we see a thriving membership, a strong community of creatives sharing resources and working together, an extensive online store, a more elaborate and enhanced funding platform and a variety of live co-produced events….and the development of a super fun Annual Maker Summit! Although MakeShare is designed to be local it has potential to be a franchise, a platform that works for many cities or towns around the world!  MakeShare Halifax?  MakeShare UK – that’s dreaming big!”