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Opinion: Urban ReThink Will Become a One-Person Events Company

By Mark Baratelli

Urban ReThink held a town hall Wednesday August 28, 2013 at which the future of the non-profit was to be the topic of discussion. After starting 15 minutes late, they took the stage and said nothing for 1.5 hours. They never said why they decided to close so abruptly, they have no solid future plans to speak of (which is understandable as the news seemed to *just* have been handed to them last week) and they admitted to not being good fundraisers or volunteer managers. Judging from what they said, the failure of the business was on their shoulders. 

It was sad to hear how sad the people in the meeting felt about the space closing. I know that much of the event programming was great. Also, losing a low-cost rental space stinks for smaller event producers. Overall, it's a loss for the community, of course. 

I am curious who will pick up the pieces and run with them. Based on the town hall meeting, I think Urban ReThink will drop co-working and venue rental and continue on as an event production company run by volunteers with possibly one paid employee.

Urban ReThink did three things: co-working, event space rental and events programming. 
  • Co-Working: I like the concept of co-working, but there are multiple places in Orlando that offer this service. Also, to me, it doesn't relate to the other two tasks unless co-working was *the* main focus of the business. Then the other two tasks would compliment the co-working business and differentiate them from the other co-working spaces. 
  • Event space rental: Venue rental is valuable, but keeping a space rented requires a full-time employee and a venue: they have neither. Yet. 
  • Events programming: I like the an entity that schedules intelligent events, but there are people in this town doing this unleashed from a non-profit. Hello Pecha Kucha. Events are tough to produce, publicize and keep alive month after month. If the ticket sales and sponsorships are solid, if the venues they partner with are cheap and if the programming attracts a monied crowd, there's a chance this arm of Urban ReThink can survive... with one employee and a bunch of unpaid volunteers. 
Only time will tell if I am right or not. I hope the ethos of the space survives, but in a sleeker, smarter shape.