How was the project implemented? What were the steps taken?
Looking back at the project, it was implemented first as an experiment, and then after its success, three specifics phases were defined:
Phase One was the initial summer experiment of 2011. During this four-month trial period, PRESS established a web presence, moved the press to the gallery, created a gallery, and trained the staff of five. PRESS employed a student as the Associate Gallery Manager (AGM), a program created by Downstreet Art—the structure that helped PRESS get started. The AGM position was funded by a grant from the College Book Art Association, Mowinski’s Creative Project Award and a small special grant from MCLA.
The AGM was the link to all things Downstreet Art. DSA has a structure for marketing and publicity, opening events, and other special activities. The AGM kept abreast of the timeline for DSA requirements, allowing Mowinski and interns/volunteers to focus on the mission of introducing students and community members to the magic of letterpress.
PRESS reached success on nearly all its goals, including attendance, fund-raising, student involvement, sales and community interest. Openings were well attended, people purchased work and subscriptions, students served as interns and valuable connections with community members were made. Bert Lamb, former co-owner of Lamb Printing in North Adams, gifted PRESS with oak cabinets for type cases and galley trays in exchange for prints. Other community members provided us with long-term loans of book presses and chairs/tables. PRESS developed a regular following of visitors interested in its mission.
Students completed projects during Mowinski’s summer course and then within two different courses during the Fall 2011 semester. As a result, a number of new students became interested in working at PRESS as interns during the spring semester, as well as using the facilities for upper-level projects. Students will continue to be the life-force behind making PRESS what it is, serving as interns, staff members and volunteers.
Because of PRESS’s success, MCLA committed to covering the fee to license the space through October 2012.
Phase Two is the incorporation of PRESS into the high-impact offerings at MCLA. It will begin in the Summer of 2012. During this time, resources will be secured to support the executive director, operational costs and the planning for future phases. The initial plan and budget, originally designed for four months, covered the operational costs (minus a salary for Mowinski) through fiscal year 2012. To secure funds for the next year, PRESS will create an Etsy site for online sales, offer workshops, begin another fundraising campaign, and secure additional funds through grants.
Phase Three is when PRESS will become the analog companion to a design program that includes traditional design education as well as a contemporary component that teaches current software and commercial design applications. As part of the process, a “college press” similar to the fine college press tradition at Scripps College will be developed. As part of this phase, additional community outreach and workshops will be developed and implemented.
Have they been refined over time?
Nearly two years into the project, the biggest refinement that will begin to happen this year is partnering with other organizations in North Adams to offer community classes and workshops. Most workshops and classes have been ad hoc or college-credit based and offered through MCLA.
An additional refinement will be expanding our reach to work with community artists.