Empty space comes back to life with investment
The Mayor contributed £20k to help the Livesey Exchange reach its Crowdfund London target of £53,252 in August. We talked to project leader Ulrike Steven to learn more.
Can you tell us about your idea?
The Livesey Exchange will turn the 60 empty garages on Southwark’s Ledbury Estate into somewhere for the whole community. The space had been empty for quite a while. We will create an arcade of workshops, studios, a café and space that can be used flexibly. I mean everything from events and socialising to working.
In this area, there is high youth unemployment. We want to focus particularly on giving local young people the skills they need to succeed. Studio spaces or maker spaces are often dominated by people who are white and middle class.
People who had studios in north London – say Shoreditch and Hackney Wick, have been moving here as it’s cheaper. Our programme opens the door to this creative world for young people with entry level workshops. By going to the workshops they can get the connections and know-how to advance to an apprenticeship.
How has Crowdfund London helped you?
We applied for Crowdfund London because we needed seed funding to get our project started. The Mayor’s contribution of £20k acted as a real seal of approval. It meant we were able to attract other major funders to follow suit.
We’d already submitted a bid to the London Regeneration Fund with Southwark Council to get the money for the construction works. Our project was chosen to be on the reserve list, but we needed to raise match funding. The successful crowdfunding campaign instilled confidence in the project and attracted match funders.
We’ve also had valuable support from City Hall in developing the project further. In particular, Tina Jadav, our crowdfunding support officer has been great!
Crowdfunding gives us a way to benefit people who live in the area and work locally. It was a chance to start shouting about the project and put a date in the diary. It gave us a bit of a push, and momentum to reach out to the local community and organisations. Our successful Crowdfund London campaign meant we had enough seed funding to get the project up and running. We hope to start building works later this year.
What have you been up to since you hit your funding target?
Since we reached our funding target we’ve had two open days. They’ve given people the chance to look at our plans. For us, it was an opportunity to get some feedback on what people thought. It’s really helped us shape our plans for the future.
We also had a visit from Deputy Mayor Jules Pipe in January and Southwark councillor Peter John. Some political endorsement is important. It’s helped us to drum up some more investment too. Now we’re getting ready to start properly.
What would you tell people thinking of applying?
I’d say firstly you do need to have an idea. Often the best ideas come from people with really good local knowledge, who know the local issues and where they are. I think that’s key. It’s also very important to have a team of people with skills that complement yours.
That’s how projects happen. It’s not magic. It’s actually grafting. And remember, everybody can have an idea. Creating a project is about talking about things and bringing skills together.