There's a new creativity hub in Port Alberni that raises the bar for the kind of spaces artists, artisans, and creative entrepreneurs need access to in order to acquire the 'skills of tomorrow'.
Open only a few weeks, the Alberni Valley Makerspace is already catapulting PA's culture of innovation to new places and laying a solid foundation for this area's Creative Economy.
The AVM is the first rural makerspace of its size and capacity in the Vancouver Island/rural Islands super-region. It is part digital creation hub (like the one we opened last fall for Central Island creatives), part traditional workshop and part value-added prototyping paradise.
Its interwoven offerings of digital and physical media will enable workers temporarily or permanently shifting out of forest jobs - as well as youth, and innovation-curious / innovation-ready businesses, to explore skills such as idea incubation, rapid prototyping, digital media competency, and high-value production - all with exceptional supports from AVM’s world-class operational team and existing maker community.
And AVM's commitment to 'making space for all': improving access for underrepresented groups (i.e., women, girls, Indigenous People, People of Colour, LGBTQ+) is timely, as communities around the world come to terms with the sheer numbers of people who have been left out of the Creative Economy, and the financial and social costs of economic exclusion.
Some of AVM's capabilities are:
Electronics and electronics manufacturing
3D design and 3D printing for product prototyping and manufacturing
Programming and software development (e.g. app development and machine programming)
Woodworking and other materials manipulation
Plastic recycling and recycled plastic manufacturing (AVM located above area’s recycling depot)
Pop-up space to for hand carving and laser carving classes
Excited to be part of what AVM is building? There are lots of ways to get involved: from volunteering to teach a class, to mentoring students, to contributing to their 'inclusion fund' to ensure barrier-free access. Businesses and patrons can also donate/sponsor the purchase of needed equipment such as a laser cutter, CNC router and sewing and embroidery machines.
Why is Creative Coast so excited about a makerspace in Port Alberni? It has to do with 'thinking like an ecosystem'. Our goal is to work super-regionally: considering and identifying strengths and assets in parts of our creative economic ecosystem that could be enhanced to support the effectiveness of the whole. The Alberni Region's location as the gateway to the west Coast offers incredible opportunities to function as an innovation and creative tourism destination, and a pressure release valve for Tofino and Ucluelet’s tourism overload.
Photo credit: Usma Nuu-chah-nulth Family + Child Services Boys Group tour of the Alberni Valley Makerspace, March 2023.