It’s hard not to get inspired by the possibilities the moment you walk into Confluent Space in Richland.
[blockquote quote="Whether you choreographic a new dance, are developing a new play or building a robot, you’re making something." source="Nick Napoli, president of Confluent" align="right" max_width="300px"]
The new maker’s space combines the industrial feel of a manufacturing warehouse with the creative flair of an art studio. The effort to bring a maker’s space to the Tri-Cities has been a year and a half in the making.
The grand-opening celebration was a full-day event that featured demonstrations, activities and presentations from makers and enthusiasts. It was followed by an evening reception for the Red Show, the inaugural debut of the DrewBoy Creative Gallery, including live music, dancing, performances and an after party.
Confluent Space’s mission is to facilitate the education and growth of artists, inventors, technologists and hobbyists by providing the space, tools, safety and education to foster creativity and innovation in the community.
The ultimate vision is to create a space for collaboration and knowledge sharing, said Nick Napoli, Confluent president. His dream is for Confluent is to become a place that brings people together, catalyzes business ideas and new technology — ultimately benefiting the economy.
“One of the things I have been hoping for is to have a confluence of art and technology, and we’re hoping to see what spurs organically from that union,” he said “I’m hoping to see not only new contemporary art coming out of the place, but also new technologies, let’s see what kind of businesses people start to spin up and develop out of here, we want people to prototype their machines here.”
The 2,100-sq.-ft. space has a woodworking shop, metal-smithing shop, electronics lab, art studios, classrooms, storage rental space and a gallery to display all of its member’s creations. The outside will be used for welding and pottery.
Davin Diaz of DrewBoy Creative will operate the art gallery.
The nonprofit is seeking funding for tools and equipment such as 3D printers, woodworking machines, and laser cutters, welding equipment, saws, and electronic tools and soldering tools.
The space is being completely renovated by the group themselves. There are still improvements to be made, like partitioning off a part of woodworking area for an electronics lab and creating a reception area in the front. Napoli said the space accepts donations for old or unused equipment.
Total monthly operating expenses for Confluent are $4,000. The group will cover that with memberships, sponsorships, sales of classes, and venue rental.
Confluent Space plans to offer educational classes and workshops on a variety of technology and techniques. The nonprofit will offer different levels of membership to those who want to use the shop and space for projects. Confluent will offer memberships starting at $25 a month. It also has one-day passes for $10 and five-day passes for $40. Some of the members can offset costs of membership by teaching paid classes at the space.
Confluent also offers different sponsorship options for businesses and organizations that want to support the maker’s space.
Businesses can benefit from an open and collaborative community of creative and technical talent.
“This is a group with a breadth of knowledge in technology and art, but also with very specialized skills and very specific information,” said Napoli. “If a small businesses wants to come in here and try something new, like creating a new piece of equipment for their shop, or develop a new product, they’ll be able to do that even if they don’t know how or where to start.”
To use the space, members have to undergo basic security and safety training. For using specialized equipment, members have to test out of it or take a training course. The organization also hopes to teach basic classes on hand and power tools.
“It’s one of the biggest things I have excited about is the educational component,” said Napoli. “A big part of the problem is that some people get scared of the tools and making things.”
The space, he said, is for everyone. He wants the space to feel and act like an extension of people’s homes.
“Whether you choreographic a new dance, are developing a new play or building a robot, you’re making something,” he said. “And that’s what we want this place to be.”
Confluent is located at 285 Williams Blvd. in Richland across the Uptown Shopping Center. For more information on Confluent, go to confluent.space or find them on Facebook.
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