A New Beginning for Artisan's Asylum

June 9, 2011     /

Hello everyone,

Artisan’s Asylum turned one year old on May 19th. Over the past year, we’ve transformed an empty 9,000 square foot warehouse, a handful of machine tools, and an empty bank account into a community workshop, makerspace and hackerspace that’s bursting at the seams with 7 craft areas (from precision machining to sewing, woodworking to electronics), hundreds of completed projects, and over 600 students in 110 classes to date. All this was accomplished by volunteer, part time effort by a group of around 40 very committed people.

We’ve learned a lot over the past year. We’ve learned about how to run a shared community workshop, about what our community needs. We’ve now reached a moment of both crisis and of great opportunity. We’ve demonstrated that our business plan works, and that there is an enthusiastic demand for what we provide – but we can no longer sustain ourselves in our present form. Artisan’s Asylum has outgrown its current space: classes and craft areas are cramped, and we can only house only a tiny fraction of the people in our community who are interested in renting space from us. Additionally, as we continue growing, our volunteers are becoming unable to keep up with the level of activity required to keep the operation running.

Fundamentally, we’re too small.

We’ve decided to take a giant leap this coming fall. We’re moving our entire operation into an amazing new space that’s 25,000 square feet (almost three times our current size) and within walking distance of the Red Line – and we’re bringing on full-time, professional staff.

This is an incredible opportunity for us to finally become the space in which can fulfill the dream we set out with, and satisfy our community’s needs. With room for new, exciting equipment like computer-controlled manufacturing tools (a lasercutter, computer-controlled plasma cutter and 3D printer are all in the works) and new abilities like open-flame work, more space for craft areas, a dedicated quiet classroom and conference room, and, perhaps most importantly, room for studio rental space for more than 100 local artists, craftspeople, and small businesses, Artisan’s Asylum can be the garage and studio every hacker, maker, artist, and inventor in Somerville, Cambridge and Boston has ever wanted – with the added advantage of fostering an entire community of like-minded folks to inspire and collaborate with, with unending opportunities for expanding your range of skills.

Excited? Great! Because we need you to get involved in order to help make this vision real.

With the cost of moving our whole shop, the sudden dramatic increase in our rent and expenses, and the added staff necessary to bring such a huge project to fruition, we can’t afford to wait until our memberships, class offerings, and renters gradually fill the space. Beginning to end, we’re looking to raise on the order of $300,000 to purchase all the additional machinery we need, equip the space exactly the way we want it, and become the amazing community center we know we can be. If you want to help this plan become rock-solid, we need you to begin to get involved now by showing your interest in renting your own space and participating in this community, and helping us raise the funds necessary to cover the gap between where we are now and where we need to be.

Take some of our new space for yourself.

The new Artisan’s Asylum will be a 25,000 square foot warehouse within easy walking distance of the Red Line.  In addition to our current craft areas, new computer-controlled manufacturing equipment, and open flame work capabilities we’ve already mentioned, the new space is temperature controlled, at ground level with loading docks, and equipped with off-street parking lots, to name just a few perks. If you’re at all interested in renting work space or project storage space in this manufacturing paradise for your very own, take a minute right now to complete our potential renter survey. Showing your interest in taking part in this exciting new community via this survey will give us the information we need to go to banks and investors to turn this place into rock-solid reality. Please, forward this information on to all your friends, and get them excited about renting space with us!

Contribute to the cause.

This is a big jump. We’re moving from a volunteer-run organization to a professionally staffed organization that’s three times larger in one fell swoop. We know we have a rock solid business plan to keep the space running with a vibrant community of renters, but getting there from here is going to be hard work. You can help ease the burden by donating to help cover costs like security deposits, minor infrastructural work, and moving all of our equipment to the new space. Whatever donation you can afford – $10, $20, $50, $100, every little bit will help us get to our final destination. Click here to donate to help create the new Artisan’s Asylum.

If you are or know of anyone interesting in funding us at a foundational level, please email us. We’d love to talk to them about how they can help found an entirely new type of creative community right here in Boston.

And, finally… Celebrate with us in the new space!

Save the date – Saturday evening, July 9th, Artisan’s Asylum will be having our one-year anniversary in our new space to celebrate our new beginning, and we want you to be there! Expect food and drink, exciting performances, a silent auction and exhibits of our members and students’ remarkable work – and a 25,000 square foot playground for your imagination.

We’re counting on you to help us make this new venture a success.
Take our renter survey now to express interest in rental space.
Support our vision with a donation.
Come celebrate with us July 9.

Thank you all for your interest and involvement in Artisan’s Asylum this past year – I hope to see you soon.

-Gui Cavalcanti
President, Artisan’s Asylum

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