Javi Buron , Creatives in Limerick

Last week saw the launch of Creatives in Limerick, a web app aiming to harness the immense potential of Limerick’s blossoming artistic and cultural movement. Javier from the project took a little time to chat with Soapbox.

Launch night in The Red Hen, O’Connell Street  (Image – Munster Images)


Can you tell us a bit about yourselves?

We are Colaborativa.eu a design, technology and social action agency based in Córdoba, Spain. Magda Sanchez is a software and electronic engineer and I am an architect myself. We develop a wide range of creative projects, from the reactivation of abandoned public buildings to citywide events based on citizens participation. We love technology in its widest sense and we combine it with design thinking in our everyday practice.


What’s the overall aim of the project?

Creativesinlimerick.com is a webapp to map and visualize Limerick’s local creative sector. Anyone from the local creative-cultural sector can add its own initiative, there is not curatorial process and we simply uploaded 40 initiatives to get the ball rolling before launching the site. We have partnered with two local creatives, Gimena Blanco and Aidan Kelleher who are looking after Limerick’s site.


How did it all begin?

This project started in Córdoba, our home town, when the city was bidding for European Capital of Culture 2016. We were starting a research on how to reactivate abandoned public buildings in a self-sustainable way and the positive impact of the creative and cultural sector in mid-sized cities. The cultural sector is quite difficult to gather information from as it it very atomized, mostly formed by micro companies and one-person projects. In our opinion, traditional consultancy research is not precise enough so in order to prove that there is a vibrant cultural sector in Córdoba we decided to design a tool that would crowdsource this information from the creative sector itself.


Where have your group operated before?

There are four cities using the tool, Pescara in Italy, Navarra in the north of Spain, Cordoba in the south and now Limerick! All these collaborations have happened by chance when we have met creatives from these cities. The project is consciously designed to discourage anyone with a financial interest in gathering this information so we don’t expect exponential growth or any of the buzzwords used in commercial web applications, and it’s perfectly fine for us!

What do these places have in common?

All of them could be included in the category of mid sized cities by each country standards. We believe that this

happens because mid sized cities are small enough to generate a single cultural scene where not everybody knows each other. There will be multiple and often complete unrelated scenes happening at the same time in big and mid sized cities. However in smaller cities everybody will know the rest so this type of tools are not really necessary.

What impact do you feel it’s had on other locations in the past?

A sense of community is a good motivation mechanism, also it is great for smaller practices and newcomers to position themselves within the local scene. For city officials, planners and researchers is a great real time tool to measure their local creative sector. A lot of recent graduates in Cordoba have told us that they use the tool to find potential employers and in a smaller extent customers have used the tool to find service providers.

What was it about the “creatives” in Limerick that caught your attention?

We have a long term relationship with Limerick, I’ve been teaching at the School of Architecture in UL since 2007 and also I am founder and director of Fab Lab Limerick. As Colaborativa.eu we don’t practice in Limerick but we spend so much time around that we might at some point!

The response to the website has been fantastic, what’s the next step for Limerick?

Creativeinlimerick.com has been designed to do just one thing: map and visualize the local creative sector. It is a non-for-profit project and because of that we carefully control the amount of time that we spend on the project to make sure that we can maintain it in the long term, we spend most of the time fixing bugs, improving the UI and code and assisting whoever wants to use it in their own local community. If people wants to build other tools on top of ours is fine, all the information (except the creative’s email which is strictly private) is available in machine readable formats and published under a open data license.

How can people get involved?

People can add their project by simply visiting the website and clicking in the add button. If you want to help us fixing bugs then just drop us a line at [email protected]


Where’s the next city on your plan?

Who knows, the tool expansion is based on pure serendipity, maybe the home city of one of your readers will be the next one!

You can keep up to date with Colaborativa by following @colaborativaeu on twitter.

Jimi is the editor-in-chief of Soapbox. You can get in touch with him here

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