MakerFestivalTO — What We Learned

Well, phew! MakerFestival Toronto has come and gone and we had a great time at the splendid Toronto Reference Library for 2015’s Extravaganza event.

The New Toronto Booth was busy non-stop with heaps and heaps of visitors who poked, prodded, dialed, peered, printed, and made. The most engaging activities were the 3D pens, the cellphone microscopes, the penny batteries, and the analogue synth hooked up to the anvil-box amp. A lot of people asked about the 3D printing examples we had and many asked about the types of material that could be used.

We also conducted an entirely non-scientific poll—no r’s were chi-squared and there were only 36 respondents—but we still collected some useful feedback about the potential for getting a makerspace going in New Toronto. The biggest outcome we found suggested that adults wanted classes for themselves and their kids on 3D printing, soldering and electronics, and a place to work on projects with power tools and other action. Unfortunately, very few respondents said they’d be willing to pay for a membership. Fortunately, just as many respondents would pay for something. So, that’s a start.

There was less interest in the little free libraries that were all ready to sell. Could’ve been that they were a bit cost-prohibitive, but it doesn’t seem like the festival audience was generally that-much into spending money. The skateboard made using the Roarockit thin air press kit, the papercraft and cards, and the keychains lovingly made by one of the youngest members all generated less interest than expected.

The festival was billed (so to speak) as a free event, so it’s no surprise that people were less inclined to spend money. Perhaps next year the organizers would consider adding some advertising to the effect that exhibitors will have stuff to sell. And on more than one occasion I heard someone bemoan the fact that they had no bag in which to carry said schwag. Perhaps branded totes could be available for a small fee to attendees.

But, it was a great experience and a wonderful opportunity to talk to all sorts of makers who came out to the Extravaganza event. Anecdotally we found that there were a good number of people who wanted a place to work, and were interested in participating. In fact, within days some follow up-up emails have started to trickle in.

Looks like we might just start to get something rolling, here…