Press Kit

The Steel Yard’s historic campus is a platform for professional artists, makers and the community to practice and learn the industrial arts. The organization fosters creative and economic opportunities, by providing workspace, tools, training, and education, while forging lasting links to a local tradition of craftsmanship.

We believe in a world still made by hands, where individuals, communities, neighbors, businesses, municipalities, and institutions come together to experience the creative process in order to enrich our private lives and public spaces.

Community Impacts
The Steel Yard is an award-winning industrial arts center, a manufacturer of custom and functional public-art, a craft school and shared studio, and Providence’s most unique private outdoor venue. The Steel Yard’s 3.8-acre campus is on the National Register of Historic Places, a living example of Rhode Island’s industrial heritage.

Located in Providence’s Industrial Valley, we are a cultural asset that serves as a sponsor and catalyst for innovative approaches to urban revitalization, arts promotion, workforce development, and community growth. Our professional workspace allows for community access to equipment for welding, blacksmithing, jewelry, ceramics and the foundry arts.

Community members of all ages and abilities can access the site day and night as a hub for jobs and economic development, to earn a living, place votes in local elections, utilize our open green space and attend cultural events. People rely on the Steel Yard to practice their craft, gain experience and knowledge, launch their businesses and embrace creative manufacturing on a local scale.

The Steel Yard was founded on a simple idea, that artists and practicing craftspeople can be a positive force in neighborhood revitalization. We have proved this in our first 15 years by cleaning up our contaminated studio and historic site and attracting new investment and cultural partners to the Valley while continuing to serve local needs.

Our artistic spirit has led to numerous program strategies, each of which combine an art curriculum with industrial skills training. This unique approach gives people the knowledge, workspace and tools to empower themselves both technically and creatively.

Students engage in workshops, open studios, workforce training, and mentorship experiences akin to apprenticeships, and professional residencies. Master artists, craftspeople and fabricators design projects and curriculum in the areas of blacksmithing, ceramics, jewelry making, woodworking and metal fabrication. Depending on the type of program a student is enrolled in they may be awarded a scholarship, pay a subsidized fee, receive a stipend, or earn an hourly wage.

The Steel Yard Today:

  • More than 500 students annually in free or subsidized courses 
  • 1,461 Paid teaching hours for working artists each year 
  • Weld-to-Work, a creative job-readiness training, will graduate as many as 72 people in 2018 
  • 15,000 or more people attend cultural events at the Steel Yard each year 
  • Hundreds of functional art installations across Southern New England* 
*it is estimated that over 500,000 people see the Steel Yard’s public-art installations every day!

Community Programs
Over 15,000 people come to the Steel Yard every year for educational and cultural events, while tens-of-thousands see and experience the Yard’s public installations across New England every day. The Steel Yard is part of the creative economy with cultural impact in the local communities of greatest need.

Open Enrollment Courses provide arts education and practical training while connecting people to the fundamental skills and techniques used in an industrial shop. These courses are open to the public for ages 15 and up, with subsidized tuition and need-based scholarships available by application. These courses have been widely recognized for their unique blend of technical and creative skill building.

The Public Projects Department creates commissioned one-of-a-kind functional public-art projects and works closely with artists in communities throughout Southern New England. The program has gained National Recognition as a model that combines the personal expression of artists and community place-making with economic and cultural outcomes. Locally commissioned work allows the Steel Yard to pay artists and fabricators while providing vital amenities such as bike racks, trash cans, benches and public art throughout New England.

Workforce Training Programs serve under-employed Rhode Islanders living at or below the federal poverty line with access to education, training, and facilities to practice the industrial arts. Our flagship training, Weld-to-Work, combines the creative curriculum of our community courses with public-art fabrication and installations. Weld-to-Work transforms participants from those who typically receive services to being able to give back to their community. Weld-to-Work graduates go on to work in manufacturing/industrial jobs with many returning to the Yard for Public Project commission or work as Teaching Assistants.

Cultural Events, both public and private, support our mission by utilizing our nearly 2-acre inner-campus as a venue to combine the industrial arts with community building activities. Revenue generated from site rentals helps support facility maintenance while welcoming the community. The Steel Yard’s own fundraiser events play an important role in public-education by introducing audiences of all ages to the industrial arts through free and low-cost demonstrations and hands-on activities throughout the year.

Residencies in Ceramics, Metals, and Jewelry provide resources and space for artists to gain access to our equipment and materials and become leaders in the creative community. The program is designed to assist emerging to mid-level artists in growing and strengthening their art practice in a supportive, cooperative environment through access to the Steel Yard’s studios and facilities. Participating artists have the opportunity to work together, to take part in community events and sales and to be creative leaders in a vibrant community shop.

Special Programs allow the Steel Yard to extend the educational expertise of the community to partner organizations who bring their constituents, students and/or employees for team building and technical training programs in any of the studios.

Volunteers at the Steel Yard are engaged with the Yard at every level of operations from corporate and professional coaching to site maintenance and preparations. Teams collaborate to produce elements for spectacular fundraiser events and community built infrastructure across the site. Volunteers learn through mentorship and shared purpose while preserving the Yard for the community.

Small business incubation in The Steel Yard's office building, where creative businesses enjoy below-market rent and many other benefits of co-locating at the Yard, (currently tenants include a timber-frame engineering firm, a sewing studio and a youth craft program).

Open Studio Hours allow artists to rent space and time to develop and complete their projects. There are no private studios at the Steel Yard, but spaces within the shop can be rented by the day or up to 3 months through micro-residencies while outdoor spaces can be utilized to realize large-scale projects.

The RISD/Steel Yard Kiln Room is a community resource shared between institutions and intentionally designed to bring together art students, community artists and Steel Yard residents for the pursuit of new and traditional ceramic kiln design and experimentation.