In its five-year life span, Market Collective has been able to accumulate numbers of incredibly creative artists, musicians and philanthropists to its market events. From its birth in 2008, via founders Angel Guerra and Angela Dione, Market Collective began as an attempt to unite various arts and creative communities across Calgary. Now, in 2013, Market Collective boasts over 3,000 guests at its events as well as rampant support from artists and entrepreneurs across communities.
Market Collective’s track record for permanent housing has been an issue over the past two years: from its initial home in Kensington at the old Anthill Building, to an old abandoned car dealership in Forest Lawn, MC has been no stranger to migrating to various locations to keep its fans, friends and supporters coming. Recently, cSPACE has opened its doors at the old King Edward School downtown to MC in December, providing the arts collective with a more comfortable, arts-friendly space — at least, for the time being.
cSPACE, since its inception in 2011, has just recently been used as a creative nucleus for exhibition for artists across the city. Developed by The Calgary Arts Development authority and in tandem with the Calgary Foundaton, cSPACE is literally the King Edward School transformed into a location that serves the artistic communities’ needs for exhibition, community projects and serves as a hub for innovative and interconnected artistic practices. It fills a need that this city for so long has been without: a permanent space occupied by artistic organizations for the enrichment of Calgary’s growing arts sector. cSPACE has held a number of arts-oriented events over the past year, in particular its popular installation exhibition, “Phantom Wing,” which was presented back in September. It is undergoing renovation and construction in the New Year.
For Market Collective, this is an opportunity to take advantage of a growing space and community awareness. Not only is MC a market beneficial for the general betterment of the arts sector, it has been impactful in such a way that it has made many of its participant artists successful, or has gotten them started with their own businesses. Although, as Guerra suggests, money is not the purpose of the organization, it has witnessed a number of independent artists become more “economically viable” as a result of their exhibition in MC events. “Money isn’t the main goal of what we do, but we also really want to see people’s artwork and people’s passions become economically viable for them and, so, it’s been somewhere in the middle: wanting to see people pursue their passions and also seeing people be able to live off of their work, not just be struggling artists and not see any money for the work that they are doing. I think that’s been the ebb and flow for us over the years, to try to maintain a clear vision for what we do, but it also gives us a chance to see how economics ties into the community, and what the importance of artists making money off of their work is. It is amazing to see artists who initially started with MC succeed: they’ve been able to quit their full-time jobs. Everyone wants to see their artists succeed.”
A collaboration between cSPACE and MC is literally a match made for success given that both organizations are so dedicated to providing spaces for local artists to engage in creative work and benefit their own social circles and networks. Guerra says that MC is excited to work alongside cSPACE to host the festive MC events. “We are really happy to be able to work with cSPACE because they are such a forward-thinking artistic hub in the city and they aligned so well with what we are doing. Being able to be in something like this, that’s this amazing artistic hub is really cool.”
Although MC has become such a staple in the YYC community, it didn’t start out that way—its approaches to advertising now are still very grassroots and most of their support comes from word-of-mouth and social media. Guerra says, “I think that Market Collective is a good example of an organization that has really relied upon word-of-mouth and social media to get the word out; we’re probably lucky enough that MC started when Facebook was in its growing phases and, so, when we started, a lot of people were on Facebook really paying attention to what was going on; there wasn’t a lot being thrown at you. We were able to use Facebook to our advantage. In the first market, we spent 50 dollars and printed out a few posters — that was all that we did. We really encouraged people to invite their friends and invite their network and their community around them. It’s been phenomenal. Now, we take out the traditional advertising here and there, now, and do some press releases and stuff, but we still rely on the support of the people and the social media channels.”
What both organizations have in common is their ability to create co-existing partnerships and lifelong friendships in this sprawling city. cSPACE’s permanently housed organizations in 2014 will include the likes of WordFest and the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers, both of which have made a tremendous impacts upon arts sector activities and community projects in Calgary.
MC is one of those organizations that will temporarily be taking up cSPACE, but, as the centre undergoes renovations in January, MC will be left again trying to find a permanent location. Guerra notes that MC’s main impact on this growing city has undoubtedly been on the creation of friendships and partnerships within the growing arts sector: “That’s one of the things that I love the most about MC, especially over the years: seeing artists and people from the community interact with one another. Most our closest friends have bonded out of Market Collective or have met through Market Collective. Even when we take a bird’s-eye-view of MC, we can see the friendships that have been formed, the lasting friendships that have formed throughout. We get to see artists that are working together on collaborative projects, which is really cool—and they’ve just met at the previous MC. It shows that they are willing to work together; artists are not afraid of each other, they are not afraid of someone maybe being better than they are.”
Market Collective’s growth over the past five years is largely due to a growing demand in Calgary for more grassroots organizations and arts offerings. This craving for local talent and creativity serves as an interested paradox for a city that is so bent on corporate and oil business dealings. MC’s impact will continue to strengthen community bonds here in YYC, it already has, and with more organizations like cSPACE coming along to support not-for-profit and other creative projects, there is no doubt that this city’s arts community will continue to flourish.
Market Collective will host three holiday markets this month: December 6 – 8, December 13 – 15 and December 20 – 22, all at the old King Edward School (1720 – 30 Ave S.W.). For more information, visit their Facebook at facebook.com/marketcollective.
By Therese Schultz
Photos: Jennifer Kornfield