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Mission & History

Mission

The Steel Yard acts as a catalyst in the creative revitalization of the industrial valley district of Providence, Rhode Island. In fostering the industrial arts and incubating small business, the Corporation seeks to cultivate an environment of experimentation and a community strengthened by creative networks.

History

The Steel Yard was founded in 2001 by Nick Bauta and Clay Rockefeller who purchased the former Providence Steel and Iron (PSI) complex in the conviction that the industrial site had not yet outlived its purpose. In collaboration with fellow artists and community members, Bauta and Rockefeller built a non-profit around the simple idea that by reconnecting people to how things are made and teaching them about process, endless possibilities open up. The founders and the earliest members of our community imagined a place that would serve as a sponsor and catalyst for innovative approaches to urban revitalization, arts promotion, workforce development, and community growth.

Our first major foray into programming began with the intention of furnishing local metalworkers with access to a well-equipped shop. We converted PSI’s ornamental shop into an industrial arts facility and education center. The facility and surrounding site now accommodates classes and projects in welding, blacksmithing, ceramics, jewelry, glass casting and the foundry arts.

Over the years, both the interior and exterior spaces have been used for the fabrication of products, the creation of works of art, open houses, workshops, demonstrations, exhibits, and performances. The input and assistance of the surrounding community has helped drive a grassroots evolution at the Steel Yard ensuring that its vision, curriculum, and facilities are unique and uniquely beneficial to the locality in which we work.

As the Steel Yard has grown, it has served as a point of exchange for individuals from a variety of social, professional, and economic sectors. The student learning to cast bronze, the auto specialist restoring an antique car, the artist hanging an installation, and the tradesman building slate roofs have worked side by side, encouraging cross-disciplinary collaboration, mutual learning, and the creation of links between individual endeavors and their applications in wider society. Moving into the future, we will strive to fulfill our mission and serve our community by modeling our growth on the inclusiveness and interactivity that first enabled the Steel Yard to flourish.