Gilroy’s first combined co-working space and digital media studio is getting ready to open later this month as CMAP (Community Media Access Partnership) puts the finishing touches on its new downtown location.
“Stay tuned for the ribbon-cutting and grand opening,” said CMAP program director and senior producer Ian Slattery in an update on the nonprofit’s progress to open its new, expanded location at 7500 Monterey St, the former Garlic City Billiards.
CMAP has come a long way since its founding in 2001 to broadcast local government meetings for Gilroy and San Benito County on cable TV. The nonprofit media center provides a host of services, which will continue at their new downtown location, including after-school multimedia programming, digital video production training, and a membership program where people can rent out digital recording equipment.
Recently, Gilroy Community For a Better Downtown and St. Joseph’s Family Center checked out equipment to record their own candidate forum and fundraising video, respectively.
CMAP’s coworking space is the latest in a series of innovations.
“It is the newest part of that evolution,” said Slattery. “It will be a place where people can come to connect, collaborate, and create.”
South County’s first state-of-the-art coworking facility will offer desks, private offices, conference rooms and access to all the utilities found in a modern office, including high speed internet, copier and prodigious amounts of coffee.
To access CMAP services, people can either become a member or purchase them ala carte. “Our goal is to remove barriers to access of those types of places,” said Slattery. “It’s for the freelancer who needs a desk or conference room to meet with clients, or a business or nonprofit that needs office space.”
The coworking space can also provide an alternative for Gilroy or Hollister workers commuting to Silicon Valley each day.
“If this is a spot where you could work a day or two days a week, and teleconference in for meetings, that could really improve your quality of life and that of the community,” said Slattery. “You are here, with your kids and family, supporting local businesses. All of that.”
Coworking has really taken off in popularity since the great recession, especially in places like San Jose, Los Gatos, Santa Cruz and Cupertino—CMAP in downtown Gilroy will be the first coworking facility for South County and San Benito county residents.
CMAP began as a partnership between the cities of Hollister, San Juan Bautista and Gilroy to run local government channels in Gilroy and San Benito County. But the franchise fees that cable companies pay to local municipalities, which help fund services like CMAP, have gone down in recent years as viewers habits have changed. Franchise fees are tied to cable subscriptions and can only be applied towards capital expenses like purchasing a camera, not operating costs, said Slattery, so CMAP has had to diversify and innovate to survive.
“Like other cable access centers, we’ve had to evolve and revolutionize what we do to meet the needs of the digital era,” said Slattery of CMAP’s new endeavor, which may involve anything from training nonprofits on how to make professional quality videos with their smartphone, to providing production services for a fee or posting community videos on their Youtube channel.
“We have a lot of those different facets, but it all falls under the rubric of tools, training and television,” he said.
To get acquainted with their new neighborhood, in a uniquely CMAP way, high school interns in their youth media program have been interviewing downtown Gilroy shop owners for an original series, Downtown Voices.
So far the team has interviewed Yolanda Castaneda, owner of Fifth Street Coffee, located directly across the street from CMAP’s soon-to-be new home, and Alejo Bejarano of the Piñata Factory.
“I really enjoyed it,” said Adilene Moreno, who started interning with CMAP over the summer. “It brings a different sense of who we are and what we are as a community. It brought me a greater sense of the people around me.”