Local industrial arts center struggles to survive

July 8, 2010 7:05:33 AM PDT
During bad economic times people normally cut back on their spending for the arts. But in the East Bay, contributing to one art project may one day return the investment by producing a generation of artists and art teachers with well paying jobs who can give back to the community.

A fire truck called the ERV or "educational response vehicle" is how a non-profit industrial arts nexus called The Crucible takes its message on the road.

"The crucible is all about anybody who wants to learn. So even if you feel like you're not an artist and you've never been creative in your life, we really encourage you to come down and take a class," Crucible founder Michael Sturtz said.

The Crucible has been offering classes in the industrial arts for a dozen years now -- first in Berkeley, now in a 56,000 square foot space in West Oakland.

More than 3,500 students per year will come to get a taste of black smith, welding, glass bending and metal cutting.

"I really hope that they think of art as a possibility for themselves too as a creative outlet," one student said.

But for students who can't make it to The Crucible, The Crucible will come to you, courtesy of the ERV.

The ERV itself is an art project of the crucible. Its front half comes from a 1960 international fire truck and the back half came from a PG&E utility vehicle.

Since its generators have to power up the equipment and acetylene tanks for the welder, it can be a chore to keep running.

In fact, the crucible is asking for your help to keep the vehicle going for another school year. They're trying to raise $7,500 for vehicle maintenance and improvement by next month.

"Insurance, tires, brakes and all the things that keep it running and trying to keep it an affordable option to go out schools and events and such," Sturtz said.

For more information about The Crucible and its ERV or to donate, please visit www.kickstarter.com


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