Artisan’s Asylum was one of the first large-scale nonprofit makerspaces in the world and is still considered one of the foremost models for new and rising makerspaces that have opened or plan to open. It was founded in 2010 as the brainchild of two makers, robotics engineers Gui Cavalcanti and costume designer Jenn Martinez. Artisan’s Asylum is a unique membership supported makerspace devoted to the teaching, learning, and practice of fabrication. Accustomed to having access to the shops and equipment at Olin College and MIT, their respective alma maters, and using them prodigiously for projects and hijinks as much as for their coursework, Cavalcanti and Martinez were disappointed by how little making they and their friends did in their free time once they graduated and no longer had access to those facilities. They called together a group of fellow makers and started the Artisan’s Asylum in a 1,000-square-foot multi-purpose space. Three moves later, Artisan’s Asylum has grown into a 40,000-square-foot building with over 350 members and fully equipped facilities for woodworking, metalworking, precision machining, electronics and robotics, screen printing, 3D printing, laser cutting, and jewelry making. Supporting its mission through the concepts of make, learn, work, and play, the organization provides Boston-area makers and artists with studio space, educational programs, community events, and instructional classes that empower them to give form to their ideas in a collaborative, non-competitive environment.
Artisan’s Asylum is run by a small staff and a number of dedicated volunteers with a range of skills and interests. Volunteering is strongly encouraged and appreciated and is at the heart of the organization’s culture of inclusion and transparency.
Artisan’s Asylum is governed by a seven-member board of directors, led by Chairperson Rachel O’Neil. Its current operating budget is $1.4 million, with over 90 percent from earned revenue (including membership fees) and less than 10 percent from contributed support.
Located adjacent to Cambridge, Somerville is one of the most densely populated communities in Massachusetts, with more than 81,000 residents located in an area of just over four-square-miles. Rich in both history and culture, the city houses numerous cultural organizations, businesses, and restaurants. Settled in 1630 and incorporated as a city in 1827, Somerville was part of the original route ridden by Paul Revere on his famous midnight ride. It has a diverse population and a vibrant creative community, second only to New York in the number of artists per capita.
Just two miles south of Somerville, the City of Boston has long been the region’s economic and cultural hub, offering a variety of performing and visual arts as well as strong professional sectors in education, technology, and healthcare. It is the largest city in New England and one of the 25 largest cities in the country. Comprised of nearly 4.6 million residents, Greater Boston is youthful, culturally diverse, and socially active. Robust public and regional transportation systems support its draw as a preeminent international destination.
The Executive Director (ED) of Artisan’s Asylum will serve as the Chief Executive Officer, responsible for supervising all aspects of the organization’s operations, programs, fundraising, public visibility and partnerships, and financial planning. Reporting to the board of directors, the ED will be charged with the strategic leadership of the organization, with clear goals of excellence, operational stability, and membership growth. An organized and resilient leader, this individual will embrace innovation, creativity, and diversity while working to grow the organization’s funding and ensuring excellent service to members and the broader community.
Roles and Responsibilities
- Lead the day-to-day operations of Artisan’s Asylum to ensure that members, instructors, donors, and the community have an exceptional experience every time they interact with the organization.
- Confirm that organizational policies, systems controls, and procedures are in place and regularly reviewed for efficiency and effectiveness.
- Oversee the facilities and equipment, including maintenance, safety, and functionality, while planning for the strategic needs for future programs and space requirements.
- Ensure that the organization is effectively structured and staffed with employees and volunteers.
- Interview, hire, train, and mentor staff, providing performance appraisals and career development on an ongoing basis.
- Maintain an organization with the highest standards, in which all stakeholder obligations, both legal and ethical, are fully met.
- Provide organizational leadership in all aspects of fundraising and development.
- Identify, build, and maintain strong relationships with key community partners to diversify and expand the organization’s individual, foundation, corporate, and government donor base.
- Guide the board, staff, and members in building a culture of philanthropy, developing strategies, and defining key messages to ensure that revenues meet organizational goals.
- Serve as the chief fundraiser for the organization, directly participating in grant writing, gift cultivation, and solicitation.
Governance and Financial Stewardship
- Identify, cultivate, and assist in the recruitment of board and advisory council members whose skills, experience, financial connections, diversity, and capacity meet the organization’s needs.
- Collaborate with the board to refine and implement the institution’s strategic plan to meet annual goals and priorities.
- Oversee all internal corporate matters, including legal issues and lease negotiations.
- Ensure the financial health of the organization by providing sound budgeting and financial management.
- Provide accurate and timely information to the board so it can effectively fulfill its policy, fiduciary, and decision-making responsibilities.
Vision, Strategy, and Leadership
- Serve as a visible, passionate, credible, and articulate ambassador and advocate for Artisan’s Asylum in a wide range of local and regional communities and settings.
- Guide strategic plan development with the board and members to ensure a clear vision for the impact of Artisan’s Asylum in the future.
- Ensure that programs, culture, facilities, systems, staffing, and operations are effective, impactful, and in alignment with the organization’s mission and vision.
- Demonstrate a collaborative leadership style with a true connection to the organization’s artists, makers, staff, board, and community.
Traits and Characteristics
The next Executive Director will be an experienced leaderand relationship builder who values frequent communication and engagement with the organization’s many diverse stakeholders. Able to think conceptually and chart the course for the future,this individual will be a versatile and competitive self-starter with a passion to lead and grow the organization. Valuing creativity and self-expression, the successful candidate will be a decisive leader with an appreciation for practical accomplishments and the ability to balance the external and internal facing requirements of the position.
Other key competencies include:
Self-Management and Personal Accountability–Prioritizes and completes tasks necessary to meet or exceed the mutually agreed upon expectations of the role while being accountable for personal and professional actions.
Planning and Organizing– Works within established timeframes and ascertains top priorities for optimum productivity, with procedures, processes, and systems that result in order, accuracy, and efficiency.
Leadership– The ability to organize and motivate others to accomplish goals while creating a sense of order, direction, and active participation among a variety of stakeholders.
Resiliency– The capacity to quickly recover from adversity or setbacks and move past obstacles without unnecessary delay.
Interpersonal Skills – The gravitas to build rapport and demonstrate a sincere interest in others while effectively communicating and relating well to a diverse constituency.
Conceptual and Futuristic Thinking– The dexterity to forecast long-range outcomes and develop suitable business strategies that anticipate future trends and needs.
Qualified applicants must have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience, plus a minimum of five to seven years of increasing responsibility in a senior management role at an art school, craft school, college, university, or similar organization. Nonprofit management experience is required. Candidates must also demonstrate quantifiable success in fundraising and community relations.
Compensation and Benefits
Artisan’s Asylum provides a competitive salary/bonus, health care coverage, and vacation time.
Applications and Inquiries
Please submit a cover letter and resume with a summary of demonstrable accomplishments (electronic submissions preferred) to:
Ms. Wyona Lynch-McWhite, Vice President
Arts Consulting Group
292 Newbury Street, Suite 315
Boston, MA 02115-2801
Tel (888) 234.4236 Ext. 225