The redundant school building in Cēsis city in Latvia becomes a creative industry centre - coworking space “Skola6”.
Two essential factors facilitated the creation of coworking space “Skola6” in the city Cēsis - empty premises in former Vocational school, and the demand for an additional and contemporary space for creative industry representatives. These factors prompted the owner of the building - Cēsis Municipality to test the actual necessity of coworking space by opening former school's premises for the public for two weeks. As a result, local inhabitants showed great interest and involvement in the development of the overall “Skola6” concept. The goal for future was set - to fill the house with creative studios, freelancers and offer services for entrepreneurs - beginners.
The first task was to make a simple renovation, set up the shared premises – kitchen, meeting room and event room. First creatives working in the building volunteered and helped with repair and other practical tasks.
To promote the interest of potential users of the space many activities were organised, for example, business idea competition, where participants gained support for idea description, presentation skills, financial planning and other events. Support for the first-month rent was offered for studios as well. After two years of intense work, 90% of “Skola6” studios were occupied.
Main stakeholders are Cēsis municipality and The foundation "Skola6". The beneficiaries - creative industry in Cēsis and surrounding, local society.
Opening costs – 5000 EUR. Operating expenditures are covered by creatives working in the building. Municipality allocates 24 000 EUR each year for management expenditures and events. Additional funding is attracted from state and international programmes. The management is done by two people.
Evidence of success
In the beginning, "Skola6" was opened to test the idea - the house was managed as a branch under NGO operating children science centre. After two years 90% of studios were occupied, space could sustain itself. Now there are operating 20 studios and ten people in coworking space.
Currently, coworking places are filled and creative enterprises started the business in "Skola6" are growing. Because of the need for bigger space, "Skola6" is looking for new premises.
Potential for learning or transfer
*An important factor in creating coworking space and creative centre is the empty premises and people who are ready to operate. With thoughtful planning, it is possible to start operating without significant investment.
*The key to "Skola6" success was the cooperation model with the local government which granted the premises it owns and supported financially.
*An organisation with an operational concept such as "Skola6" can become an important stakeholder in a local community and a powerful driving force for business development in the region.
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