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Meet The Lighthouse, Whalar’s First-of-Its-Kind Physical Campus for Creators

28/05/2024
Agency
London, UK
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LBB’s Addison Capper chats with Jon Goss, president of The Lighthouse, about the opening of two locations in New York and LA for the creator economy to meet, learn, make and belong
A sketch of The Lighthouse's Brooklyn location
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The Lighthouse, a newly launched division of Whalar, is a dedicated, first-of-its-kind physical campus for creators and their teams to learn, make, and belong. 

Opening later this year in Brooklyn, New York, and Venice, California, according to Whalar, each campus is set to combine learning and career development programmes, state-of-the-art production studios, private offices, open-plan workspaces, and cultural-social events accessible through an application-based membership program. The Lighthouse will also offer a complete set of production facilities consisting of video-enabled podcast suites, edit bays, photography and music studios, a test kitchen set, and more. 

The campus will host industry leaders, educational institutions, and creator experts to deliver a diverse programme of learning and development courses, workshops, and seminars. Topics will range from creative direction, production, storytelling, AI, and e-commerce to finance, investment, HR, and legal. Cultural events will showcase influential figures from the arts, culture, and business domains, while the monthly programming calendar will feature social, networking and community events.

The Lighthouse Venice (originally a 1937 post office) and The Lighthouse Brooklyn (a former 19th-century pencil factory) are both architecturally renowned. Both campuses will house art installations, a lecture hall, a coffee shop, private offices, open-plan work and meeting areas, an outdoor campus, and dedicated spaces for screenings, talks, dinners, and larger-format events.

Ultimately, The Lighthouse aims to bring together a diverse group of established and emerging creators and their growing teams, offering a place to connect for a community that is re-shaping the media landscape.

To find out more, LBB’s Addison Capper spoke with Jon Goss, president of The Lighthouse. Prior to joining the Whalar Group, Jon was chief brand and marketing officer at NeueHouse and Fotografiska.

 

LBB> To kick off, please sum up The Lighthouse for me. How would you describe it?  


Jon> The Lighthouse is the first-ever campus for content creators and their teams to gather, create, collaborate, learn, and be inspired in real life, all day - every single day of the year. This concept was inspired by the opportunity and insights from Whalar Group and its founders to provide a home base for the creator economy and to solve for the lack of resources, tools, and in-person connectivity available to creators and their teams. Defined by our three pillars of learn, make, belong, The Lighthouse represents the best facets of art and grad schools, content production spaces, and third space, community hubs for a specific group. 


LBB> How can creators get involved in The Lighthouse? Is it somewhat like a members club or am I on the wrong track there? 


Jon> Creators and their teams can become ‘members' through our application process. Some creators will be endorsed and referred directly via our local creator councils and founding members. But, this is not a 'members’ club’ in the traditional sense of a private lounge and restaurant space with exclusive access. This is far more expansive in its ethos and promise as a campus for content creation and production; a learning and development programme customised for the creators to support their craft and focus on developing their holistic needs and those of their teams.

It’s also a permanent gathering space designed for creators to learn from each other and look for more opportunities to collaborate. So, this is more akin to a Milk Studios/YouTube Space meets General Assembly, but, of course, with some components drawing from the best community, work, social, and play elements of a Soho House/NeueHouse.


A sketch of The Lighthouse's Venice location


LBB> How does The Lighthouse interact with its parent company, Whalar? 


Jon> We work closely with the founders, executive leadership, and wider team at Whalar as a division of the Whalar Group - specifically, for their deep and tenured creator insights, relationships, brand relationships, and deep understanding of the creator economy.

At the same time, The Lighthouse is an autonomous brand and business in its day-to-day operations, with its mission being to serve creators as our community in real life. But ultimately, it’s about honouring the Whalar Group’s mission to liberate the creative voice, and The Lighthouse is a crucial part of delivering on that promise.


LBB> Why is The Lighthouse necessary for the creator economy in the US?


Jon> It's by no means just a US-only need. Last year, 95% of the creators that Whalar worked with on behalf of brands were full-time, and70% of the time, Whalar did that work with managers/agents, and nearly 20% of the creators had at least one full-time employee. That's why what was once called influencer marketing is now called the creator economy. Through our approach, we’ll arm creators with the opportunity to push their careers forward through access to facilities, peer-to-peer learning, and in-person networking to provide a chance to consider the long-term impact and legacy of the creator economy as its leading voices. The Lighthouse will open first in two locations in the US, with expansion plans in London. 


Lucy Tate, vice president of brand and community; Jon Goss, president; Steve Nolte, vice president of hospitality and operations


LBB> Your background is in marketing for NeueHouse - which I imagine overlaps with The Lighthouse - and places like Fotografiska. How do you anticipate this experience feeding into creating a space for the creator economy with The Lighthouse? 


Jon> A lot of my experience and learning is in community building, the power of programming, and experiences to inspire creatives. So, how to bring this to life through a deep understanding of the power of in-person connectivity, the built world, design, and storied buildings that inspire creatives and creativity.

That said, to your question on ‘members clubs’, this is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to build something bespoke for a community that is truly multi-hyphenate. They are one part creative, one part celebrity-meets-thought leader, one part entrepreneur/start-up owner, and one part technologist. They are the new entrepreneurial class and are leading the way for the next generation of the workforce to lead a similar entrepreneurial path. So, this is far more than a work or social space. It's an incubator and platform for new ideas and new ways of working as a community; a place to support innovation in the same way creators are transforming publishing, media, content, and audiences. But I definitely drew a lot of learning and inspiration from all that I was fortunate to lead at NeueHouse and Fotografiska. 


LBB> Overall, how would you summarise your main aims with The Lighthouse over the course of the rest of the year? 


Jon> We have two incredibly storied, architecturally significant buildings in Venice and Brooklyn, both of which have been designed to bring to life the vision of The Lighthouse and service the underserved needs of the creator community. We want to honour the history and architecture of those spaces. To show creators that we are developing something commensurate with the time, effort, authenticity, and integrity they put into building their creative capabilities and communities. And, to open both spaces with a view to cultivating a community of established, emerging, diverse, kind, and collaborative creators. We aspire to be the go-to destination for the creator economy, so a lot of hard work and graft will go into delivering something truly special by the end of this year in both Venice and Brooklyn.


An historic photo of The Lighthouse's LA location


LBB> Any parting thoughts? 


Jon> So many! Ultimately, we can’t wait to see what The Lighthouse can do to inspire and support creators, their teams, and their careers in a way they couldn’t have imagined possible, even when they first heard about The Lighthouse. Having overseen some transformative experiences and magic moments in my career, I've never been more excited to open the doors to something so unique. I cannot wait to see creators’ reactions when they are around their tribe, their excitement at what can come from in-person connections and experiences that can shift their perspectives and open up infinite possibilities.


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