YouTube is permanently closing its creator-focused city 'Spaces'

The pandemic has pushed it to embrace a virtual and pop-up events model.


With the pandemic prompting tech companies from Facebook to Twitter to embrace remote working en masse, the need for large physical sites may soon start to look like an antiquated idea for businesses that operate online. And so it goes for YouTube, which is shifting away from one of its major workspace projects for creators toward a hybrid model that combines virtual events with intimate pop-up experiences.

Launched in 2012, YouTube Spaces offered video makers a professional studio setting (complete with equipment such as DSLRs, green screens, and lighting rigs) in cities including Berlin, London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Rio, and Tokyo. But, the company was forced to close many of these locations when the pandemic hit last year and now it says it won't be reopening them.

Instead, the plan is to continue the virtual sessions YouTube has been running while its Spaces remained shut amid COVID-19 lockdowns, alongside smaller pop-up events when restrictions ease. In all, it has hosted these online sessions in 145 countries worldwide, reaching 70,000 people.

Spurred by the results, it's announcing more virtual events focused on fostering creators in developed and emerging countries. This year's programming includes a fund for Black artists in the the US, UK, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Brazil and Australia; ongoing support for rising talent in Russia, Japan, the Philippines and Germany; live and recorded workshops to help creators get to grips with YouTube's tools including livestreaming; and artist and label workshops previewing its latest features. Once in-person events are allowed, YouTube plans to bring pop-up events to more places, with music nights and training on new products like its TikTok rival, Shorts.

"This flexible new strategy will allow us to reach more regions, positively impact more new and existing creators and artists by giving them the guidance and resources they need to take their craft to the next level,” YouTube said in a blog post.