Business

Qualicum Beach Digital Studio is open for business

From left, Town of Qualicum Beach consultant Patricia Huntsman listens as Telus’ Raed Abihanna and Dirk Jezierski explain the finer details of the cutting-edge technology installed in the new Qualicum Beach Digital Arts Studio. - Auren Ruvinsky photo
From left, Town of Qualicum Beach consultant Patricia Huntsman listens as Telus’ Raed Abihanna and Dirk Jezierski explain the finer details of the cutting-edge technology installed in the new Qualicum Beach Digital Arts Studio.
— image credit: Auren Ruvinsky photo

Qualicum Beach town council hopes to make the town a digital arts hub, where high-tech professionals can work internationally via the Internet while enjoying the small-town lifestyle.

“The digital arts industry… is an important audience for the town’s young families and mobile workforce attraction strategy, and is a key part of our culture-led economic development initiatives,” said Patricia Huntsman, the town’s cultural development and communications consultant who led the project.

To help attract and keep high-tech workers and entrepreneurs, the town is opening the Qualicum Beach Digital Arts Studio in the old train station this month.

“This provides a really good opportunity for a start-up,” said Denny Unger, who has been developing a virtual reality game called The Gallery: Six Elements out of his Qualicum Beach house.

Unger has signed on as the first tenant of the studio, which provides about 26 spaces in five rooms that offer a flexible combination of meeting, private and co-work spaces.

The studio will include some ongoing tenants like Unger, who currently has three employees in Qualicum Beach and three elsewhere on the continent.

The idea, which was sparked at a digital media symposium last September, is to provide a space where individual, or small groups of digital media professionals can work and network and hopefully develop larger projects or even businesses.

Jared Shaw, another local digital media expert who helped develop the studio, previously said that while game design can be solitary, they often get together in coffee shops or public places.

He said he imagines the studio developing into an educational centre and showcase to attract more computer companies and individuals to the area.

With total estimated operating costs for the first year of this pilot project of about $30,000, Huntsman said the town has received about half of the funds through a Telus program that donated $25 for every person in Qualicum Beach who signed up for Optik TV.

The rest of the costs are meant to be covered by rentals through the year, she said, with the goal of breaking even.

The studio is now open for free drop-in use in April before its formal opening in May, at which time there will be a log-in website. For more information, contact Huntsman at culture@qualicumbeach.com. For more on Unger’s game, visit www.thegallerygame.com.

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