1. What is your organization or company. Give background history including who, when, and why it was founded. MECCA – Materials Exchange Center for Community Arts. This non-profit was founded in 1999 as a grassroots organization dedicated to “diverting useable materials out of the waste stream and into the creative endeavors of our community”. It is largely volunteer run and the board just recently appointed their new director, Heather Campbell, a graduate of the Arts Administration program at UO.
2. What do they do or make – describe the products and services and what makes them unique. MECCA is devoted to three program areas: education, artist services, and Materials Exchange. MECCA volunteers prepare project packets accompanied by sample works of art for schools to use as inspiration. MECCA serves as a venue for local artists to showcase their creative expertises in the studio and during First Friday Art Walk. MECCA’s supply store is made available to anyone interested in purchasing a variety of donated materials that may be used for creative reuse art making. What makes this organization so unique is that it invites artists to host on-site workshops in the studio space where featured projects incorporate the use of recycled materials. For a small, sliding scale fee anyone is invited to come and work in the studio space outside of guided session times to create their own original works of art. According to their website, “By encouraging the creative reuse of scraps and discards, MECCA offers a low-cost and environmentally friendly way for people to express themselves artistically.”
3. Describe the culture of the organization or company. What is the work environment like – the atmosphere? What is the building like – exterior/interior, architecture, fittings and furniture? How do the employees work together? What are the jobs and roles of individuals? How are they treated by management? The work environment may be challenging or somewhat hectic in that the volunteers are faced with the constant challenge of organizing materials in a matter than maximizes storage space. MECCA frequently attempts to liquidate their build up of donated materials through purchasing incentives such as “fill-a-bag for a dollar” clearance events and promoting weekly store supply specials. The organization has just moved into a new building in the heart of downtown Eugene and is now located next to the Eugene-Springfield Amtrak Station. The building is constructed out of brick and there is a large parking lot in front. The building’s interior boasts high ceilings, yet the studio space is fairly small. When you enter through the front door you are greeted by the volunteer store cashier, to your immediate left is the teachers’ resource center and to your immediate right are aisles of shelving with donated materials available for purchase. When you walk past the store section, you enter the studio/workshop space which has additional materials available for art-making. Alongside the wall is a small exhibition area is reserved for featured projects. The furniture and shelving units are eclectic and most likely donated as well.
MECCA is supported by two boards, the Board of Directors and the Advisory Board. The re-use store is entirely volunteer run! The only staff listed on their website is the director and a Network Charter School teacher. MECCA has outlined components of strategic planning as recently as 2012-2013 and is “on a growth trajectory, expanding store hours from 22 to 37 per week” and is actively working to increase its supporting membership.
4. Who is the targeted audience? What are their demographics? MECCA welcomes anyone interested in art and recycling materials to participate in programming or just simply shop the store. This organization thrives on the creative support of artists, recyclers, families and teachers. MECCA also maintains a presence at local arts events such as Art & the Vineyard, Family Days at JSMA, Earth Day, The Whiteaker Sculpture Project in 2001, and at Network Charter School. MECCA supports individuals on an artistic level by providing space and resources and it also supports the city on an organizational level by curbing the amount of waste destined to enter local landfills in the city of Eugene.
5. What is the organization or company mission statement?
“MECCA is dedicated to diverting scrap materials from the waste stream and into the creative endeavors of our community. MECCA provides access to low-cost arts programming in an inclusive environment that enhances the cultural life of Lane County.”
MECCA Website, http://www.materials-exchange.org
Press Release, http://www.materials-exchange.org/documents/MECCA_ED_HeatherCampbell.pdf