Javi BuronGarcia is a lecturer of Architecture at UL and founder of Fab Lab Limerick. He talks to us about the web app created by his own practice colaborativa.eu, CreativesInLimerick, which maps the creative community of Limerick.
Tell us a bit about your background…
I am a lecturer in the School of Architecture UL since 2008 and Fab Lab Limerick founder and director since 2013. But Creatives In Limerick is actually a project by my own practice Colaborativa.eu, which I run together with Magda Sanchez Mora. We are a design, technology and social action agency working between Spain and Ireland to develop tools and strategies for reactivating public space through the creative and cultural sector.
In Cordoba we manage an independent cultural space located in former abandoned public building.
We are also interested in developing low cost building systems like domenico.cc which can be used by communities to self build their own collective spaces.
How did you create Creatives In Limerick?
We created it out of necessity, researching public building reactivation through creative communities. The public administration in Cordoba asked us if the city had enough people working on the creative sector to promote such type of projects.
At that moment we realised how hard it was to get precise data about the local creative and cultural sector because there are a lot of micro companies, sole traders and part time workers who can’t be tracked using traditional methods like chamber of commerce records. It’s very important to have precise and real information in order to create effective policies or strategies.
What do you think defines a creative?
That’s a very hard question. Normally every time we launch the website in a different city we have a lot of angry emails saying you are not including this category. What’s creative for me is a very wide range. If I applied my concept of creatives, a teacher in any discipline would be a creative, or someone who practiced sport. So if I used my definition it wouldn’t have any purpose because it would just incorporate every single person in Limerick. In the case of Creatives In Limerick we need to be very precise in our definition.
We are using the European definition’s categories and sub categories of a creative. That’s the reason there are some categories and not others. We are using these categories to make sure we can relate with other cities and relate this mapping to other European national policies.
What is the aim of Creatives In Limerick?
The aim of the tool was to map the creative cultural sector of a region by using a crowd sourcing approach. In order to map even the smallest activities we made a selection of the best known companies and projects and developed a simple way in which any creative and cultural initiative can add itself to the visualisation.There is no curatorial process. In each city there we work together with a local creative – in Limerick we are working with Gimena Blanco and Aidan Kelleher, who take care of double checking that the information is accurate.
What other cities are using the tool?
Cordoba, Spain. Navarra, Spain. Pescara, Italy. Now we are working with Donegal Local Enterprise Office to bring it to Donegal and also we are in conversations with Las Palmas, Spain and Strasbourg, France.
Why choose Limerick and these other locations?
We don’t choose the cities. It’s a very organic process. If someone is interested in being a local creative, monitoring the website, then we present the project to them. If they’re still interested we will prepare the website for them. There’s no master plan and no business model behind it, which is very important. I’ve been involved with technology for a while now. In the last few years I’ve perceived that when you talk about websites and software everybody immediately thinks about venture capital, big investment, taking over the world. Yes that’s a possibility. But the Internet is a very diverse ecosystem. You have for-profit companies; you need to have not-for-profit projects.
It needs to be diverse otherwise the Internet will become a very boring place.
So when people ask about that we say no we are not interested, it’s a research tool that we created to understand the local creative sector in our city better. Other people have asked us to replicate the tool in their city and because they have a motivation or an interest we are happy to help.
Are you open to others building on the tool?
At first we thought that we would release the tool and the data as open source: we are big advocates of this movement but finally we decided not to open the tool itself but the data only. There are millions of extra functionalities that we could add but we want to keep the project as simple as possible. If someone else wants to develop new functionalities or new visualisations they can use our API to tap directly to the database and access all the data, except email addresses.
Who should add their names to Creatives In Limerick and why should they do it?
Basically anyone that is part of the categories can add themselves. Each person has their own motivation, maybe it’s that you’re just getting started, you see it as a good place to promote your small practice or you’re now part of the Limerick2020 spirit and you want to be part of the representation. Or maybe you want to better understand how the sector is formed, and use it for more of a research interest. I think that’s an interesting path for the project; that it could be used to identify a niche of opportunities.
Article By: Sarah Talty
Photography by: Tarmo Tulit
Read more from The Limerick Magazine here.