Community Darkroom in Ottawa – Meeting [February 9, 2012]

With digital becoming dominant in the world of photography.
Don’t you wish you live the glory days of film?
Last week I got a Twitter message from a friend telling that someone was interested in setting up a community darkroom in Ottawa.
The details was on this site.
I went to a meeting that took place at Ideal Coffee.
It was about establishing a community darkroom in downtown Ottawa.
The meeting was run by James Edward Hare.
Here what was discussed during the meeting.

  • Finding a location
  • How to structure the organization
  • Cost to set up
  • Funding

Finding a location. Obviously this is a critical point. There is a shortage of reasonably priced spaces available to setup an organization in the Centre Town area. What has been found so far is some light industrial space near the EBA (down the road from them) in either 2000 sq foot or 8000 sq foot allotments. I’ve also had some success posting for space on Kijiji and have two locations I need to take a look at. I still need to confirm a time to go and see these spaces and I will let you know as soon as I’ve got a time and location in case anyone would like to come and see them with me.

At this point I would also like to put a call out to interested members that if you know anyone who has space available for a reasonable prince to get in touch with the group. There was some discussion about whether any of the local churches might have space available for lease. Also any ideas or leads please pass them along. Ideally I believe we are looking for a 2000 sq foot space. Half the space would be darkroom and the other half a finishing area. These are rough estimates and I suspect a smaller space would also be functional so as low as 1200 sq foot would be possible.

How to structure ourselves was raised as well. Some of this does depend on how we finance the group and if we start to seek funding from the city or other sources. The structure was also thought to depend on the size of the group. A larger group would most likely need a more ridged structure to handle the increased issues of admin while a smaller group would mean a much more flexible type of setup. The ideal number of members was though dependent on three consideration, first is cost of the space, the second is the amount of interest and the third is the size of the space. This discussion was left entirely undecided as more information and a few more meetings are needed to start to come to some conclusions. One wrinkle was the Ottawa Film Makers. They are very interested in having access to a wet lab to process movie film. This should not be a problem but would require some adjustment in how access was arranged given the large numbers that may potentially want to make use of the facility.

The costs needed to set up the space was discussed and this again related to space. As I said at the meeting the membership costs should cover the the rental of the space plus a little bit in the pot each month for centre improvements. I’ve already had a number of offers of equipment from people who, while not interested in using a darkroom have stuff they no longer use and want to see go to a good home. No hard figures were discussed about the set up costs but they are likely to include the following: plumbing supplies, used kitchen counters, plywood, possibly a dividing wall, paint, electrical supplies. Obviously this is not a complete list but broadly lays out what is needed to complete the set up.

Finally funding was discussed. There was some ideas about approaching the city for either a donation of space or money. This is an interesting possibility and I’d like to ask if anyone has contacts or the time to pursue this let me know and to see what is possible and what would need to do to start this ball rolling. Another idea was seeking a philanthropist who would like to offer some support in establishing a community arts organization. Again either money or it was thought preferably space. Finally for self raising the money a membership fee was put forward to cover regular expenses like rent. There was also the idea of a split fee with a yearly membership component and a hourly rental. Also discussed was a having two types of memberships, one gives full access and the other charges an hourly rate. Again, these are somewhat
dependent on space and start up costs. If anyone has any additional ideas about funding let James know.

If you have comments of concerns, just contact


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About Ming Wu

Ming Wu - Photographer and blogger from Ottawa, Canada

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