WICHITA — When Bluebird Arthouse closed in late May, MakeICT had to scramble a bit to make sure it would still have a place to operate.
The group had been subleasing space at Bluebird, which was on West Douglas just east of Seneca in Delano.
Now, with help from the Knight Foundation Fund of the Wichita Community Foundation, MakeICT has a new lease at the address along with money to help pay for it and utilities for six months.
MakeICT formed in 2012 as part of the international Makerspace movement and recently was granted a nonprofit status.
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"It's this very cool thing that sometimes I think I'm too old to understand, but I'm trying," says Shelly Prichard, president and CEO of the Wichita Community Foundation.
"It's very loosely defined," she says, "... which is part of what my personality has trouble with."
Makerspaces are types of community centers that also have tools to help with all kinds of creativity.
That could be a wood shop, machine shop, art studio or science lab. Currently, MakeICt members can share a 3D printer, a foam cutting machine, PCs, CNC machines and other equipment and tools.
"It's mostly about creation, whatever that looks like," Prichard says. It's things that aren't necessarily connected ... except by the idea of creation and community."
Though she teases that she may be too old for it, Prichard says MakeICT actually is for people of all ages, backgrounds and interests.
"It's not just a technology focus. It's also the idea of community and coming together."
Prichard says the idea of people with common interests coming together in a community to make things might be something people see on TV, "but it's here in Wichita, and it's happening."
Along with help for rent and utilities, MakeICt also received money for new equipment and will have help for future planning and development.
"The part I'm excited about is the creation of a business plan," Prichard says, "... just for sustainability so that they can grow and figure out a way to continue having this impact."
She says the idea is for a business model to support the nonprofit idea.
Prichard says the goal is to get MakeICT a little closer to downtown, but she's not sure where it may wind up after its lease in Delano expires.
"Hopefully that's what the business plan will determine."