Closing Our Double Red Doors

DATE:  August 30, 2021     CATEGORIES:  Blog, Community, Outreach

Today is an important day, and I want you to know that I recognize that – deeply. I recognize the importance of today in so many of your lives because over the years I’ve experienced much of the same sweat, tears, and joy that built Artisan’s at Tyler Street. Like you, I know what it’s like to pour yourself into a community, to build dreams that expand beyond four walls. To shape life out of air and to foster a powerful community from loose affinities.

It can feel like a once in a life-time experience and I recognize the loss that many of you feel in leaving Tyler Street. I wish it didn’t feel so difficult to take this step forward together.

When I was hired in August of 2018, nobody knew what was next. Let’s be real: some even doubted there would be a “next.” The organization welcomed me with a ticking clock and I got to work. To move forward we’ve had to overcome some pretty ridiculous odds. I think back on my naiveté with wry, dry wit. And who could have seen Covid coming.

Stay at Tyler Street? Remain in Somerville? Grow twice as big? These were questions that seemed ripe with possibility in late 2018. As 2019 widened, the realities of our scale, a booming regional real estate market, Artisan’s financial track record – even the diverse and often asymmetric voices across our community made it clear: there was no magic bullet to address the question, “Where will Artisan’s be in September 2021?”

Regardless of the odds, we persisted. I asked my team to invest in and optimize our operations as far as we could push them, knowing that we’d be unlikely to ever make the investment back at Tyler Street. We had to grow as though we were staying: with the model I inherited, our survival required earned income to keep pace with (if not exceed) inflation. And we weren’t going to grow a powerful donor base overnight. I’m profoundly grateful to everyone who helped us secure space and a lease in 2020.

We accomplished a lot with very little, and that takes something powerful – it takes courage and it takes heart. I send my deepest thanks to everyone who shared your courage and gave your heart.

Slowly and with great effort we rebuilt the footing of this place. From back taxes to infrastructure, equipment and contractors – even the damn roof! We’ve poured over $2.5M into Tyler Street over the last 3 years, ensuring that we could shape the story we needed to tell – a story that would bank confidence in our qualities as a community and secure the partnerships we need to grow.

It hasn’t been easy, and yes, it has been bumpy – yes, we all have some bruises. And here we are, about to launch something fantastic.

As we wind down our operations at 10 Tyler Street today, I want you to know that I’m pretty impressed with everyone who is still with us. Thank you. You’ve been able to produce dreams from stardust, animate objects with strings of code. I know that not everyone who has contributed to this place is happy or even comfortable with our move, and I’m sorry. I am also grateful to everyone who, in whatever way you have contributed, has brought us to where we are today – to the threshold of our next ten years.

And I believe it will be an exciting decade. There will be adjustments, sure. All things considered, I’m confident the upside is greater than the downside. Every member will benefit from a healthy work environment. The community will benefit from dramatically expanded work spaces. Members will be closer to the Boston market for artistic and creative output. Artisan’s has the opportunity to foster world class partnerships.

There is much to be excited and optimistic about as we reflect on the shared history that we leave behind.

So as we prepare to say goodbye to Tyler Street, I hope that you will find your spirits lifted by the accomplishments of this community and the prospects for the open-ended, inspired, funny, poignant, somber, jubilant, ingenious creativity that has powered the Asylum since it opened those double-wide red doors back in 2012. To riff off the familiar: Artisan’s isn’t being destroyed, we’re just changing form.

Thank you for all you’ve brought to the Asylum, and I look forward to working with you to cross this Rubicon moment and welcome you to our new home in Boston in 2022. To get started, please create your new membership account at:

Sincerely and with spirit!

Lars Hasselblad Torres, Executive Director
Artisan’s Asylum, Inc.