A retro space in downtown Arlington is now second home to a creative community. When Mark Joeckel, former general manager of Arlington Music Hall, had to cancel four months of shows earlier this year because of the pandemic, he says he refocused and re-created a vision he had for local artists.
The idea of a startup hinging on the creative class became reality a few months ago after Joeckel secured an investor and launched Create Arlington, which he describes as an inspiring “coworking center focused on that ilk of humanity” including painters, musicians, photographers and like-minded artists.
As venues began closing their doors, Joeckel says he reached out to local musicians to help keep the music flowing. Soon, he and his son, Christian, were filming music videos in his apartment while paying bands $200 per set and cranking everything out on social media. After looking around for a location, he settled on a building with exposed rafters and a 1950s-era feel.
“Finding the right place for the right price isn’t easy,” he says of the space located on Main Street near Theatre Arlington and Arlington Museum of Art. “It had to be a cool place with lots of windows and high ceilings.
Arlington Sewing Machine Repair and Supply was there for about 40 years [and] Van’s Shoes is the space that is now the art gallery studio.”
Although the 3,000-square-foot venue is active and socially distanced, Joeckel says the pandemic has placed a few things on pause, including Create Arlington’s first art exhibition.
“What we’re working on is, in a pandemic sense, how we can keep musicians alive and keep them working and work with local artists, how we can get them an affordable location and how we can crank things up and start having art events and collaborating on new projects.”
Create Arlington offers artists tiered monthly memberships starting at $39 for students — who get access to the facility as well as coffee, snacks, printer and WIFI. Top-tiered memberships get 10 x10 reserved spaces, along with other perks. They’re ideal for artists looking to meet with prospective clients and do business outside of their home, Joeckel says, adding that space is also available for rent by the day.
“One of our youngest members is an Arlington High School student,” he says. “He interacts with the older, more experienced artists and they talk about what he’s working on and he asks them questions about what they’re working on.
“The whole thing is about mentoring and encouraging,” he continues, “but, you know, we have a hell of a lot of fun.”
Autumn Lowe, who boxes and ships coffee from the facility, is also a member of a band that sometimes practices at the venue after hours. Another artist has a 14-foot high mural stretched along a wall and Joeckel recalls a few UTA students using the space for a remote newscast.
“They were set up there with the lighting doing their broadcast live,” he says.
Some people may have no connection with the creative life but are just looking for a cool space to work or study, Joeckel says. Others stop by to paint, livestream or utilize the 900-square-foot photo studio with natural lighting filtering in through old school windows.
"Our whole deal is to help people make money,” Joeckel says, “whether paying musicians for livestreams or buying art, that’s really the endgame of all of this is to help the creative community to make money.”
For more information, visit createarlington.com.
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