A new creative and digital hub due to open in Merseyside this year launches crowdfunding campaign. Andrew Brown reports
A crowdfunding campaign has been launched to support a new creative and digital hub due to open in Southport later this year.
Located on the first and second floors at Wayfarers Arcade on Lord Street, The Engine Room is being developed by Dr Eric Lybeck, a senior lecturer at the Manchester Institute of Education.
He has been working closely with partners including Southport BID and Southport College to bring his vision to life. Dr Lybeck said: “We need your support. We have a crowdfunder now live at the IndieGoGo website here.
“We’ve got less than a year to prove we can make this work. The owner has given us our space for a peppercorn rent on the basis that we can raise funding from public, private and philanthropic sources to support creativity in Southport.
“Between January and June 2024 we need to fill our creative Engine Room space with activity.
“We are capturing the demand among the Southport community for a dynamic space for young and old people to come together for new and exciting ventures, courses, events, meetings and chance encounters.
“Please subscribe to our The Engine Room Facebook page for updates about what’s on in the coming months.
“Southport BID is installing the fastest internet in town before this month is out, and the University of Manchester has donated desks while we build out our custom workstations and cafe.
“But, this is what we need help with ASAP – £20,000 would cover the costs of construction, plumbing and the salary of a full-time member of staff to manage the cafe and events.”
This funding would allow Dr Lybeck to apply for public funding from sources including the recently announced Creative Catalyst fund, NESTA’s Arts and Cultural Impact Fund, and UKRI’s Resilient Coastal Communities grant competitions.
These investments in infrastructure would enable The Engine Room to open every day, all week, encouraging subscribers to join its self-sustaining community of co-workers.
Dr Lybeck added: “Your larger donations will help us reserve no-cost spaces for young people who are just setting up shop – like a scholarship, but for graduates starting a new venture.
“Please check out our crowdfunder and help us get off the ground. Let’s make 2024 the year we really put our town of Southport back on the map.”
The Engine Room will add to Southport’s growth in co-working and creative spaces, with Werksy on West Street having opened in January 2024 and work taking place to create the new Southport Enterprise Arcade on Eastbank Street.
Dr Lybeck said: “Southport town centre can really flourish if it continues to evolve. We want to have conversations with local residents to find out what they think this space can be best utilised for.
“Over the next six months we want to be able to demonstrate that there is a real demand, an interest and a need for what we offer here. In 2024 The Engine Room is going to be quite an exciting place to be.”