From incubators to venture capital funds, the term “scalability” is used tirelessly to describe startup potential. Yet for Thaddeus Squire, founder and managing director of CultureWorks
(formerly Peregrine Arts), value isn't determined by size. "There needs to be space to talk about small and non-scale enterprise and its contribution to the economy," he argues.
Foundation money is tight, Squire admits, but Philly’s "huge startup energy," plethora of arts resources and the timeless "human urge to create" continue to push experimental arts forward. Just two months after officially adding coworking to their programing list, CultureWorks has filled 73 seats—over a third of capacity—with freelancers and individuals representing a slate of new and mid-development organizations, including Recycled Artists In Residency
, Next American City
and Alchemy Dance Company
CultureWorks—which outsources management services and helped buoy the development of Hidden City
—has been increasingly approached by emerging creators who seek support but can’t purchase the full program. Squire sees coworking as a solution: Build a home base for makers, artists, architects and designers—alongside the curators, publicists, lawyers and marketing experts who support them—and Philadelphia’s collective creativity continues down the path to prosperity.
"It’s the same idea that the VC and startup community has," explains Squire. "You want to see a lot of churn of ideas because every tenth idea might be a real game changer."
Squire believes his space is outside the coworking bubble (new Philly spaces include Venturef0rth
, the South Philly Co-op Workshop
, Paper Box Studios
and Benjamin’s Desk
) because it’s geared towards the nonprofit realm. While championing the value of small, he is certainly not shy about CultureWorks' capacity for growth. "We want to prove that this model will work," he says. "The intention beyond that might be to franchise into other cities."
Thaddeus Squire, CultureWorks