Two recent examples of this in practice: the Austin Scenic Co-Op operated by Salvage Vanguard Theater and the Rude Mechanicals, and NeighborGoods.
The Austin Scenic Co-op supports the theater community in Austin, Texas by sharing materials and equipment. Last year they were awarded a "Think It" grant from the truly innovative MetLife/Theatre Communications Group A-ha! Program to develop and test a business plan for a production element co-op for small to mid-size companies in the Austin theater community. From the TCG project blog:
The Austin Scenic Co-Op is a project that I started with a fellow TD (Technical Director) named Thomas Graves. I am the resident set designer and TD for Salvage Vanguard Theater, and a company member of the Rude Mechs, the theater group for which Thomas is a Co-Producing Artistic Director. We both saw a problem with the way theater and arts organizations were using resources: buying materials to build platforms and flats, then throwing them out because storage was too expensive, only to have to buy and build them all over again. It made production expensive, time-consuming, and wasteful of materials that could be recycled. So we started collecting generic set elements that could be re-used, storing them at Salvage Vanguard Theater and The Off Center (home of the Rudes), and making them available to TDs, theaters and arts groups. The greater purpose of the program is to reduce waste and to make production less costly and time-consuming for the creative community, especially those members who struggle financially and technically.
NeighborGoods is an interesting new website that allows you to share things with people in your neighborhood, or with people in self-defined networks. This kind of tool would be great for a community of artists to start their own resource share co-op. From their site:
So, what are you waiting for? Start sharing and let us know how it works out! Email us at email@example.comNeighborGoods.net offers a unique service by building upon the success of sites like Craiglist and Freecycle. Inspired by their ability to encourage re-use and keep waste out of landfills, NeighborGoods goes one step further to help people get more value out of stuff they actually want to keep. Members can safely borrow a lawnmower, lend a bicycle, or earn some extra money by renting a DVD collection. NeighborGoods is like Craigslist for borrowing. NeighborGoods provides all the tools to share safely and confidently including transparent user ratings and transaction histories, privacy controls, deposits, and automated calendars and reminders to ensure the safe return of loaned items.
Photo from Rude Mech's Method Gun