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Arts & Culture

Urban ReThink closes its doors

The co-working and cultural-event space is gone, but parts of the mission may continue

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The big questions are how did this idea-powered flying machine crash so abruptly, and where do the stunned passengers go next? The 34 co-workers currently conducting business there will need to find a new address, and there is no certainty that Urban ReThink will be renting it to them. When asked about the future of co-working as part of UR’s activities, McDaniel equivocates, “No part of it, do I think, is 100 percent that it could go one way or the other.” In-house programming that doesn’t require a physical space (like the Super Joy Riders, a band of superhero-costume-clad volunteers spearheaded by artist and UR program coordinator Brendan O’Connor) could continue uninterrupted. Popular literary events presented by outside groups such as Functionally Literate, Parcels: UCF

MFAs in Progress and There Will Be Words will no doubt find new locations. But part of the magic of Urban ReThink was its knack for bringing together all of this programming, along with its diverse group of co-workers and community members, under one roof.

Given the organization’s many partnerships and penchant for fanciful community-building, it seems out of character that there was no campaign to pull people together and keep the space open. Other spaces have been offered as a new home, but at a hastily scheduled town hall meeting last Wednesday, some co-workers voiced a sense of betrayal that the decision to close the space was made with no input from the small-business owners who inhabit the space daily – and pay rent that helped defray costs. It seems possible that event programming may continue, either in a new space or in various spaces, but the co-working model seems destined for the dustbin.

McDaniel, too, appeared surprised at how quickly the decision was made. “That’s the most disappointing thing about this for me – we didn’t have time,” he said sadly in response to an aggrieved co-worker. “The dream for me would have been to have this meeting a month ago and come up with ideas to make this work.” At the same meeting, though, McDaniel expressed some optimism: “We’re not closing the lid on this; we’re opening it wider.”

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