Five Questions: Artist Mar Williams of Cabal Enterprises, formerly The Concoctory

Mar WilliamsUntil September when it shut its doors, The Concoctory was a place where you could learn to open them.

Among the offerings of the eclectic center for crafters, hackers, geeks and other creatives located on South Broadway in Denver was a class on lock picking.

This weekend, The Concoctory, which opened in March 2013, is reopening under a new name -- Cabal Enterprises. But though the rebranded organization plans to continue to offer its popular lock picking class, it will operate less of an open-door policy than before.

CPR News caught up with one of the core artists at Cabal Enterprises, Mar Williams, to find out more about the enterprise’s transformation from a non-profit, round-the-clock, public tinkering space to a for-profit, private art incubator.

CPR: How is your new operation much different from your old one, besides the name change?

Mar Williams: The Concoctory was a non-profit, member-run hackerspace. We gave anyone 24/7 access to use any tools and equipment on our premises for $50 a month. Our members were primarily electronics enthusiasts and artsy crossovers into that terrain. Cabal will be closed-access and a for-profit art incubator. A small group of artists -- FAIM, Cheap, Girr, Joshua Finley, Michelle Scheffer, Jim Norris, ZetaKaye House and myself -- will share the space. We will hang on to a bit of The Concoctory’s geekiness: We're keeping a 3D printer to create with, and the most popular Concoctory classes will continue, such as soldering, lockpicking and 3D printing.

CPR: What prompted the transformation?

Mar Williams: The Concoctory had a hard time becoming sustainable. Volunteers are hard to come by and keep active. Keeping membership up enough to make the rent was difficult. It's certainly possible, but our space didn't quite make it. I think the thing we did best was always education, so keeping that going has refreshed some enthusiasm.

CPR: How will the space be organized?

Mar Williams: We will have two floors. Our workshop/art creation area is in the basement. Our classes and retail space will be upstairs, selling our art in the form of paintings, prints, tshirts, swag, posters, etc.

CPR: What are some of the main projects that Cabal Enetrprises will be focusing on when it first re-opens?

Mar Williams: We're kicking off our launch with a group show by our resident artists. Everyone has their own thing. The idea isn't so much to work collaboratively, but rather to hang out, work on our own projects and inspire each other. Alchemy may happen in that environment. Some people want to do classes, some people want to make shirts, some people want to mount shows. It's really loose, and I think that's a great way to keep things creative, inspired and ever evolving.

CPR: What kinds of public classes will you be offering and how much will you charge people for taking classes at Cabal Enterprises?

Mar Williams: Classes are whatever people want to share knowledge about. I've heard people mention interest in a ‘zine class and a screenprinting class, for instance. Classes at The Concoctory worked on a “pay-what-you-can” model. At Cabal, our lockpicking class will cost $10, but people can still pay whatever they can afford.

Cabal Enterprises will host a launch event on Oct. 3 featuring art from its member artists, live music and food trucks.