Elizabeth Lemmonds’ idea for a combination art space and fabrication shop, which she began pursuing after striking out on her own from the Start Co. organization last year, is coming together.
She has secured space at 2493 Broad Ave. for the venture called Forge, and she’s planning the first big public unveiling of it to coincide with the Broad Avenue Art Walk April 11.
The way she describes Forge, it will include something like a gallery or exhibition space so that events can be hosted at the facility and bring in a broader demographic. At its core, the idea is for Forge to bring together entrepreneurs, artists, engineers and inventors in a co-working environment, so that they’re interacting as well as learning from each other – “interdisciplinary innovation,” Lemmonds calls it.
Paid memberships would offer access to things like office or studio space and a high-tech “playground” with available items like laser cutters and 3D printers.
“Broad was really one of the two areas under serious consideration for this,” Lemmonds said. “It was important to be in a neighborhood that had the right energy. Broad has such a big focus on art and creation and innovation. This space is also perfect for everything I’m doing, because there’s a gallery up front already and there’s a huge workshop space for all the actual fabrication. And there’s also an upstairs, so for more of the desktop manufacturing or software-related stuff, you can kind of get away from the din of the shop itself.”
Still to come is a crowdfunding campaign for Forge as well as details of Forge’s membership levels – what their costs will be, for example, and what benefits they’ll include.
Among the ideas Lemmonds has mentioned include hosting events to showcase its participants’ work, such as exhibitions and panels with Forge artists and engineers. The venture also would host pop-up “Forge Fairs” where the opportunity to sell creative work would be available.
“I think you’re really seeing more entrepreneurial opportunities, more arts organizations and things like that in Memphis, and the goal here is to really complement that and also provide something a little different,” Lemmonds said about Forge. “So, as far as where I see us going – we have more than 12,000 square feet of space. We can provide something large-scale for production. Another is we want very much – if you are someone who wants to come in and do a (do-it-yourself) project, then absolutely we want you to do that. I’m just happy to see capacity in Memphis growing for all kinds of different groups like this.”
Her initial plan included giving access to Forge at different membership levels and providing discounted rates to groups like students and members of the military.
Lemmonds’ career has involved what she calls “connecting dots,” bridging opportunities and entrepreneurs, and her previous work with Start Co. involved helping startup founders bring their own ventures to life and connect them with the resources they need to do it. Now, of course, she’s working to start up her own venture.
Before Start Co., her career also included a stint as director of communications and marketing for The Leadership Academy.