Can you tell us a little about yourself?
We are Romy Roelofsen and Martijn Smit, the owners of the Collective Workspace Maastricht.
IN the same place, few months ago there was a shop that turned to be empty soon. Thus, we started to think a year ago, what can we do with this space different from renting out to commercial retail companies and be involved in the space ourselves.
Due to our own experience in the creative sector (Romy for example is co-director of Theatercollectief Het Geluid Maastricht) we had a sort of brainstorm on the ‘space’ itself. Artists, thanks to Sam Ateliers and others, have a chance to rent a cheap studio – although it is mostly outside the city centre- while, creative entrepreneurs don’t really have this kind of opportunity yet. So, that’s what we did, we wanted to facilitate them. At the same time, we always rented it out to others, and this time, we wanted to do something that also gives us positive energy.
What will you consider your distinctive achievement?
Well, turn everything that was pink in a beautiful design (from Anne Büscher ABK) in only one month. No I am joking. One year ago when the idea came up, I really didn’t think that we could make it totally by ourselves. At the beginning, we were looking for partners (Lijnspel (Heerlen), Creative Corridor (Heerlen) etc.) for joining this journey. We had a lot of support from everyone. We are open since this month and having a very good quality of members, I think it is already a big achievement.
What kind of qualities you needed in order to achieve this?
We went to New York last summer, and we visited a lot of co-working spaces there. Every place has its own characters, we acknowledge a lot of things to do and don’t and the ones that are important, so we researched this upfront, before we started. I think we managed to create a space with its own characters for Maastricht, which suits the building, and hopefully the creatives that work here.
What are you looking forward to?
The moment that we have 10-12 members; and the Collective Workspace Maastricht becomes a really buzzy place, where creatives can support and cooperate with each other and connected events with other co-working spaces will start to be realized. Also once that everything is being set, facilitated and supported and running, it is up to the members together with us to take this space into another level.
Which advice would you give to the young professionals?
At the moment, I think Maastricht is in a sort of situation, that if you really stick and believe in your idea, than you can realize new things. Of course, you need to talk a lot, but if you do it, and you do it in the language of the people you are working for, than you have a good chance to create something. Also it is important to be patient, and have commitment in order to achieve your goal.
What are the challenges that we need to overcome to make ‘cultural entrepreneurship’ more accessible?
You need places in the city centre, where you can show and meet your clients or target group. In my opinion this should be visitors from the shopping district. Architects, photographers, designer’s etc. also have a product to sell. I hope the government and politicians will be less focused on the old commercial shopping district idea only. So to keep all the talented people that inhabit the academies of Maastricht over here. We need more spaces for old crafts and young freelancers in locations were people pass by.
The different creatives by connecting between themselves can create new opportunities and jobs as well. More centred spaces for creatives in the heart of the city is a very good opportunity for them to be visible. The creatives are a really new DNA of a city.
The Artist and the Others, Start-up Pirates (UM Ana Mihail), Maastricht LAB and Alderman Gerdo van Grootheest are doing a good job here.