Our Mission + History

ABOUT US

Our Mission + History

Mission

The mission of the Society of Arts + Crafts is to support and celebrate craft makers and their creativity. The organization’s vision is to build and sustain a vibrant and diverse community and to shape the future of craft. The Society of Arts + Crafts believes in four distinct values:

  • Craft Improves Our Lives. Craft is an integral part of our culture, helping us understand who we are and where we are going.
  • Craft Combines Old and New. We respect the traditions and values of craft while connecting the field to new and diverse voices, perspectives, and ideas.
  • The Maker Story and Our Story. We bring the maker story consciously front and center, engendering a richer understanding of who we are as a culture and society.
  • New Pathways for All. We are committed to excellence in the field and creating new pathways and points of engagement for all.

Since its inception, the Society of Arts + Crafts has been at the forefront of the American craft movement. On the eve of its 125th anniversary, the organization is embarking on a bold new strategic plan which applies the organization’s efforts towards promoting the relevance of craft in the 21st-century.

History

In 1897, the organization was formed as the Society of Arts and Crafts in Boston, Massachusetts.  Original charter. 

“This Society was incorporated for the purpose of promoting artistic work in all branches of handicraft. It hopes to bring designers and workmen into mutually helpful relations, and to encourage workmen to execute designs of their own. It endeavors to stimulate in workmen an appreciation of the dignity and value of good design: to counteract the popular impatience of Law and Form, and the desire for over-ornamentation and specious originality. It will insist upon the necessity of sobriety and restraint, of ordered arrangement, of due regard for the relation between the form of an object and its use, and of harmony and fitness in the decoration put upon it.”

Today, the definition of craft as an art form has expanded well beyond the organization’s earliest concept of a “usefulness and restrained form”, to include and accommodate much broader craft expressions.

The Society of Arts + Crafts has evolved over time. For many years, it was an association that existed primarily to showcase annual exhibitions as well as awards of merit and achievement. The organization opened a successful exhibition space and retail store and occupied, over time, three different locations on Boston’s much-visited Newbury Street. In 2007,  the first biannual CraftBoston event took place, a craft show tradition that continues to this day.

In 2016, when its Newbury location was no longer available, the organization relocated to Boston’s Seaport District. That change in location to a still-developing section of Boston proved challenging for the organization, which had long depended on its retail success as a major means of revenue. In response to Covid-19, the Society moved out of the Seaport location in March 2020 to continue its operations and serve its artists remotely. CraftBoston Holiday 2020 is the organization’s inaugural fully online event.