Welcome to West Michigan Glass Art Center’s Kickstarter Campaign. We’re reaching out to you in hopes that you can help us rebuild after some tough times. Our story begins 12 years ago as 6 glass artists got together and decided to start a group where they could share their love for glass, experience, and teach new people about this passion that consumed so much of their lives. And that mission to Teach, Create and Promote Glass Art has been at the core of what we do since our early days. In 2010 we moved into our current space that allowed all our studios to work under one roof. It was an exciting time as we were finally able to go from studio to studio and see all of the activities and various ways of working with glass. The move allowed us to increase our events. Events like Battle of the Glassblowers where we bring in artists from all around the region to compete against one another in front of live audiences. We have taken our glass demonstrations to countless schools, senior centers and local events to help spread of word about hot form of art. We have summer camps for kids, Explore Glass Art Day for the community, Veteran’s Day glassblowing, corporate team building, and date night for couples. We are also home of the Bronson Journey Beads program where our volunteers spend literally thousands of hours each year creating specialty beads that help map a child’s journey through their cancer treatments and milestones.
While we are lucky to have been embraced by the Kalamazoo community, we have been struggling with our business model. Glass of any form is expensive and while we’ve been trying to be everything to everyone, we haven’t been realistic and honest about the rising costs of supplies, rent, utilities and staffing. If we were to charge the true cost there is no way our artists could afford to make their art. Thus leaving Kalamazoo and West Michigan without a resource or draw for other great glass artists to visit our community.
We are asking for your support to help the West Michigan Glass Art Center get through these next few months. We are going to our funders and asking them for emergency funding but we also need support for strategic planning and a relaunch in the New Year. Our costs of doing business have been $30,000/month. We have had to close our doors for the next 4 months while we do our strategic planning; gauging the need from the community, determine who we can emerge to be and how much space we need, etc. While we have cut back on expenses, we still need to keep the fire burning so we can have renters (our major source of funding for the next 4 months) still have a place to make their art and fulfill their business’ obligations.
We’ve set a small goal of $10,000 for this Kickstarter campaign simply because in this situation, it is better to have a small goal that is attained than a larger goal which isn’t reached. If we can reach $30,000.00 or $50,000.00, this will afford us the opportunity to focus our minds and effort on the future instead of survival of the present. If enough money is raised, we would be able to fly various Board members and industry experts from successful glass centers around the country to help guide us on this effort to becoming a sustainable and growing glass center here in West Michigan.
We have had AMAZING support from top glass artists across the country who have visited WMGAC and want to see us succeed. Those are the artists who are offering their awesome skills to provide the incentives for your donations. These specialized artists have spent countless hours honing their skills. You would be thrilled to have their piece beautifying your home…all with the peace of mind of helping Kalamazoo’s hottest nonprofit!
Your gift at this level will get you our heart-felt thanks (in note form) and your name (if desired) on the support page of our website.
This four hour class is limited to two glassblowers who will work one-on-one with G Brian Juk in the hot shop. The class will be split with each glassblower as gaffer for half, G will concentrate on areas the gaffer is interested on focusing on.
This four hour class is limited to two glassblowers who will work one-on-one with David Naito in the hot shop. The class will be split with each glassblower as gaffer for half, David will concentrate on areas the gaffer is interested on focusing on.
A four hour lampworking class with Sharon Peters, open to 8 students.
Fusing Frenzy! A one-day class full of fusing, slumping and casting! Delve into Gloria Badiner's intense style and learn some of the techniques that make her one of our nation’s most sought after fusing artists.
This six hour class will focus on cane pulling and roll-ups and is for experienced glassblowers. Each glassblower will switch between gaffer and assistant for two hours while there will be approximately 2 hours of instruction from Marc VandenBerg.
Two students will work with Sharon Peters during this four hour private class!
Donor Design Sessions (No experience necessary!)
Donor’s Design sessions are open to everyone, no glassblowing experience necessary! Create a custom piece of glass art and watch it being created by a master craftsman. Discussion of the type of piece (vase, goblets, centerpiece, etc.), design ideas and colors will take place ahead of the session. On the day of the session the donor will meet the artist, the artist will make a quick sketch of the piece as an additional keepsake. You'll be able to take pictures of your piece being made and, if possible, get a quick picture of the piece before it is annealed, and pictures with the artist. Each artist has their own style and specialty, follow the artist links below to see examples of their work.
Spend 3 hours watching your piece being made by G Brian Juk! This piece will be custom made to your previously discussed specifications.
David Naito will make one of his signature pieces and the donor will pick out color and watch as he makes his piece especially for the donor. The donor would be able to meet with David before the piece is made, get David’s sketch for a keepsake, take pictures while it is being made and then get pictures with the artist.
Spend 3 hours with the artist watching your piece being made in the hot shop. Work with the artist, G Brian Juk, to create a custom piece and watch it being created by a master craftsman. In addition, you'll be able to sit down and have lunch with G so you can get to know your artist!
Spend up to 4 hours with the artist, Marc VandenBerg. Watch this master of Venetian figurative glass work create a piece of artwork you designed together.
Work with the artist, Chris Nordin, to create a custom piece and watch it being created by a master craftsman. In addition to all the perks of the donor session, get to sit down and have lunch with Chris and get to know this amazing Michigan artist.
Work with the artist, Chris Nordin, to create a custom piece and watch it being created by this master craftsman. In addition to the design consult, sketch, and creation process, you'll get to sit down and have dinner with Chris.
Meet one of our industries most active and interesting glassblowers: Laura Donefer. Laura will incorporate your color choices into one of her gorgeous pieces of art. Once the piece has had time to anneal, it will be yours. You will have time to meet with Laura, have pictures taken together and be able to take pictures during this 2 hour session.
Risks and challenges
Fortunately, the board has spent the past several months assessing how we got to this crossroads, a stage that is not uncommon among grassroots nonprofits. We know we have to get past the often casual ways of operating and habits of ‘the way it’s always been done,’ and focus on developing a truly professional nonprofit organization that provides educational and artistic benefits to our members and the community. Our focus going forward is on the highest quality of educational offerings and experiences, technical skills, and artistic expression—whether a person is engaged one time or becomes a professional through our programs.
Unexpected risks and opportunities are always possible during this type of assessment, strategic planning, and redevelopment. One of the biggest obstacles we face will be embracing the changes we need to make. We know not everyone who has been involved, to date, will be happy with the results and future direction, and disengage--that is to be expected. Others will be drawn into a new vision and professionalism and bring ‘new, positive blood’ into our efforts. As these transitions occur, unknown and unexpected new challenges and changes may present themselves that we will need to consider. Not falling back into old habits will be an ongoing test through this transition.
To accomplish this assessment and redevelopment, we are seeking input from a strategically invited group of local and national experts to help us plan a road to recovery and a positive future. This level of outside input, along with a broad survey of members and community networks, will reveal what the community wants and needs us to be, and focus the why, how, and what of our strategic plan. The risk: we don’t yet know what will come out of this exploration and, yet, we are looking forward to the process and outcomes.
The final challenge for the near term, during and after the strategic planning this fall, will be raising the funds needed to support the people and processes required to implement a more professionally operated organization that gets us beyond a start-up and well on our way to a financially sustainable organization that is even more valuable and exciting to Kalamazoo and the region than before this crossroads.
- (30 days)