A Letter from Artisan’s Incoming Board Chair Steve Derezinski
Dear all: makers, teachers, supporters and creative constructors of all flavors.
I want to introduce myself to all of you as the incoming Chairman of the Artisan’s Asylum Board of Directors and share some of the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead. My official term begins December 9, 2019 when Rachel will step down and I will assume her duties as Chair. I want to thank Rachel for all her hard work over the years – clearly a tremendous effort from a dedicated volunteer!
First a bit about me. I was an Artisan’s Asylum member in 2017 and grew to understand the unique organization that is Artisan’s–from its early beginnings with a casual arrangement between a team of motivated makers to the vibrant, learning and creating community that it is today.
I am an engineer and MBA by training (SB in Mechanical Engineering and MBA from MIT) and an entrepreneur and company builder–from tech to boards. I’m currently advising a number of companies and am forming a blockchain startup that I will launch in Q120.
In my role as an Artisan’s Board member, I sat on the Executive Search committee and interviewed a number of candidates, so I know how lucky we are to have Lars Torres leading the organization. Given his leadership abilities and entrepreneurial talents, Artisan’s is far better off today than it was a year ago.
And we have a ways to go.
I’ve been on the Board of Directors for about 6 months and have gained a deeper understanding of the challenges facing Artisan’s. Not the least of which is that we have been out of compliance with tax filings for several years. This has been solved, and I’m glad to say we are in compliance so we can accept large donations.
However, we still need to catch up with more recent tax filings; the accounting system we use in the past needed updating and has been resolved by Lars and the team. We’ve got an excellent auditing partner in Smith, Sullivan & Brown, P.C. They completed our FY17 audit and are nearly complete with FY18. Our FY19 extension has been granted, and that work will be completed in the first part of the New Year. (Please note that Lars and team inherited this situation and are doing a great job fixing it.)
In addition, there is the looming issue of finding a new home, but also an opportunity to update and renew. I’ve been working on the A2 Futures committee of the board to find a new home for Artisan’s. This is not an easy task, as you are aware. The cycle of low-rent for artists, followed by high-rent due to neighborhood gentrification (in part due to artist influence) is a force we are contending with and a force to wrestle with in the future.
I’m glad we have a two-year lease extension, which affords us enough time to do the search and figure out the move. But this is no reason to slow down; we cannot be complacent and as Lars has been active in communicating with all about potential new homes, we will continue to bring you news of candidate locations.
These two items alone (not to mention all of the other strains on resources) require strong management and a strong financial pool to effectively manage them. Luckily, we have one of those items.
Which brings me to my final point: All of us need to pull together to help Artisan’s financially. And I know that many of you have already. Thank you.
Every piece of financial action we take matters. Small ways you can help include paying your dues on time; adding a little extra each month; encouraging your friends to donate; or identifying Artisan’s to your employer giving program. Each of these actions is significant, supports our bottom line and ultimately positions Artisan’s for success.
I look forward to leading the Artisan’s board and working with Lars and the operations team to ensure Artisan’s Asylum grows and moves to the best place it can be. I am looking forward to this coming year of finding a new home, smoothing out the financials, and ensuring a stable platform on which you all can build great things!
Steve Derezinski, Incoming Board Chair