“I needed 3rd Ward in order to be who I am: to call myself an artist, to be a part of New York,” said Victoria Valencia. Valencia set up the website save3rdward.com and wants to work with other displaced 3rd Ward members to build a new shared space. “I want to build something where people can go meet people, collaborate, get ideas,” she said. Anyone interested can register to get involved at Save3rdWard.com, and they’re particularly interested in hearing from anyone with a business, legal or financial background. Valencia said she hopes the group can start raising funds by the end of the year.
“We’re not trying to be 3rd Ward,” she said. “We’re trying to be different — we’re trying to be ours.”
In the meantime, existing organizations are trying to help soften the blow of the space’s closure. “You’ll never come to the Brainery because we’re in Prospect Heights,” Brooklyn Brainery co-founder Jonathan Soma joked to the mostly-North Brooklyn crowd, and “we don’t have a metal shop or wood shop or 3D printing,” he said. But the Brainery is offering a matchmaking service to help link displaced 3rd Ward instructors with other spaces seeking teaching talent.
Art Factory, another maker space, does have metal shops, wood shops and photo studios that it’s letting 3rd Ward members use for free through January. The only catch? It’s located in Paterson, N.J. — about 12 miles west of Manhattan.
Other facilities around the area, including Downtown Community Television Center at 87 Lafayette St. in Manhattan and the National Academy School, are offering discounted and free memberships, as well. Robin Grearson, who organized Wednesday’s meeting, is setting up a mailing list on her website, where she also posted the complete list.
Launa Eddy, an artist and former 3rd Ward instructor, is looking to build an online hub for New York artists and makers to exchange ideas, tools and work space.
“It’s such a vast community,” said Eddy, who can be contacted through her website, encouraging anyone with an interest or an aptitude for web development to get in touch. “Everybody’s all over the place.”
Despite their sadness about 3rd Ward’s closure, the former members struck an optimistic note about the future.
“It sucks that 3rd Ward came to an end,” said Ryan O’Connor, another former instructor. “Let’s make some serious shit happen.”