Giedrius Kavaliauskas is the Head of the Association of Technical Spaces. Giedrius is also one of the founders of Meškėnų Laboratory (or M-Lab) – a laboratory of digital production equipment. It is an educational project which is being implemented in different Lithuanian educational institutions and is meant to carry out classes of technical creativity for students and teachers.
What was the beginning, Giedrius? How did the makerspace movement in Vilnius start? When were the first makerspaces established?
I think, community workshops have existed for a long time, e. g. workshops in garages. However, people sharing a common space, tools, equipment and knowledge have not identified themselves as "makerspace", "hackerspace", or etc. Padirbtuvės (2013-2014) was the first to officially announce itself as a makerspace and introduced the term of makerspaces in the city of Vilnius. It was later followed by the Technarium in 2014, although the founders of Technarium had been running a communal workshop space long time prior that.
A year later, an attempt was made to create a business model with Green Garage, but the idea of non-community, but rather private and business model/profit-making workshop space did not succeed.
Do you need a lot of money to create a makerspace?
To create a professional workshop with equipment, tools and space, funds are necessary. However, in most cases a makerspace starts from several people, with simple tools / equipment and it grows gradually. Equipment, tools and space are not the key factors for the creation of community workshops – makerspaces. The most important actor in this process is the community. From the perspective of economic efficiency and business model, the people's time, energy and knowledge, as well as continuously raised qualifications, exceed or equals the cost of equipment and space maintenance in the long run though in Vilnius independent and community driven open workshops spaces have the struggle for covering the costs of the rent and are forced to look for affordable spaces outside the central urban areas which is less convenient for the members. I believe that makerspaces, hackerspaces or fablabs don’t have to be highly profitable but definitely should be more appreciated by public sector for the intangible values they create to the local communities, society in fields of education and innovation
For PART TWO of the blog click here.