Eccleston George

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ARTISTS ARE COLLABORATIVE CONSUMERS

Posted by Eccleston George Team on November 12, 2013 at 7:40 AM

 

 

Those that have read 'Nige's Ramblings' webpage will already be aware that he has what some might say is a ridiculously optimistic view of the future for us all. His take on the future is mostly based on the idea that everyone should be lovely to each other and those that aren't lovely should be ignored until they get bored with being horrible and decide to be lovely too. Now  to add to this Nige believes that artists and crafts people hold the key to a better way of life based on the fact that they are natural collaborators who are used to working in the understated realm of sharing, honesty & trust.

 

 

Nige says this -

 

 

A new economic model has arrived. Named by TIME as one of the “10 Ideas That Will Change the World”, 'Collaborative Consumption' describes the shift in consumer values from ownership over to access. Together, entire communities and cities around the world are using web based technologies to do more with much less, they do it by by renting, lending, swapping, bartering, gifting and sharing products on a scale never seen before. Collaborative Consumption is transforming business and consumerism and is impacting on our lifestyles right now. In short we're finding it's giving us a more fulfilling and sustainable quality of life.

 

 

As some will know us lot at Eccleston George have a rather nice beachfront studio on the Isle of Wight, we call it 'The Works'. 2014 will mark the beginning of our third year in our studio, a place we use for meetings, making things and sharing with an array of other artist and musicians. We're happy to let anyone use our studio for free and in this respect it's become an important space for quite a lot of people. The reason we can offer The Works to others for free is because it's free to us, or at least we don't pay any money for it, instead we barter for it, we make our skills available to our landlord for an agreed number of days. This arrangement illustrates perfectly one of the three ways Collaborative Consumption works.

 

 

So for us at Eccleston George our working lives are about 'collaborative lifestyles', this is the first way collaborative consumption can work. Here people with similar needs or interests band together to share and exchange less-tangible assets such as time, space, skills, and money. These exchanges happen mostly on a local or community level, as people share working spaces like we do or perhaps gardens or parking spots. Collaborative lifestyle sharing happens on a global scale too through activities such as peer-to-peer lending (on platforms like Zopa and Lending Club) and the rapidly growing peer-to-peer travel (on Airbnb and Roomorama).

  

Another way to consume collaboratively is with 'product service systems' that enable companies to offer goods as a service rather than sell them as products. Goods that are privately owned can be shared or rented peer-to-peer. This kind of business seems to appeal to the increasing number of people shifting to a usage mindset: In other words they want the benefits of a product, but they don’t need to own the product outright.

 

 

With 'redistribution markets' used or preowned goods are moved from somewhere they are not needed to somewhere they're wanted. In some markets, the goods may be free, as on Freecycle. In others, the goods are swapped (as on thredUP and SwapTrees) or sold for cash (as on eBay). It has been said that soon, “redistribute” may become the fifth R—joining “reduce, reuse, recycle, and repair”—and a key form of sustainable business.

 

 

Collaborative consumption isn't a niche trend, and it’s not a reactionary response to the recession either, it’s a socioeconomic groundswell that is transforming the way companies think about their own value and the way people fulfill their needs.

 

Artists and craft workers have long known the benefits of working collectively and the three realms of collaboative consuming described above..... I think the creative process almost demands it from us artists at some point or other in our careers. Eccleston George is an example of how people can and do club together to do things that on their own they'd never attempt, I think that we display quite nicely how pooling your skills and resourses can get you stuff you want or need.  In the fourteen years we've been operating from the Isle of Wight Eccleston George has morphed several times, members have come and gone but all have left their indelible imprint on our working methods and so have altered our group course for the better. In the decade and a bit that we've been around we've watched other collectives spring up around us and marveled at how they too seem to benefit from the 'safety in numbers' ethos. What's even more exciting is that we're now seeing businesses, charities and even corporate giants following in our footsteps and even more amazingly than that we've been asked to give some of them them advise and support now and then!

 

 

So 'Collaborative Consumption' is here and if you want to find out how to join in then my advice would be to find an artist near you and watch and learn!

 

 

Our studio 'The Works' has gone from being an empty building collecting dust and rubbish to a place that creates opportunity and boosts the economy. 

 

 Our studio is no longer just 'our' studio because we do this with it...............

 

 

Host events.

 

Community engagement.

 

Work space for artists.

 

Public open days.

 

Teach skills.

 

Provide events and exhibition space for artists.

 

 

Inspire disadvantaged young people.

 

 

Collaborate with other organisations.

 

Provide free space for bands to rehearse.

 

 

 

Share the space with other freelancers like this peer to peer photography skills swapping workshop.

 

Play host to big named potential clients like Merlin Entertainments.

 

 

 

These are just a few of the things happening at 'The Works' that have in various ways generated over £600,000 back in to the economy in two years. The Works receives no outside funding and we ask for nothing from local authorities or national goverment, Big Lottery or any other funding initiatives in order to run the building. The Works is sustainable because of the arrangement we have made with our 'landlord' which is based around swapping our skills in return for the building space, no money changes hands, just time and skills.

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