Our History—20 Years In The Making

The Crucible first opened its doors on January 15, 1999, in a rented 6,000-square-foot warehouse in West Berkeley, then moved to West Oakland in 2003. Since our founding by sculptor Michael Sturtz, we have evolved into a community-focused industrial arts school and community, serving West Oakland and the Greater Bay Area.

We are the largest nonprofit industrial arts education facility in the United States and are committed to meeting everyone where they are, welcoming diverse voices, and using art to support creativity, personal transformation, and local economic development.

The Beginning

Today

2020

In March, The Crucible makes the difficult decision to close our doors to reduce the incidence and spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus. The team immediately pivots, launching a number of relief efforts to help support our team of faculty, staff, and working artists.

In July, The Crucible is able to completely renovate the studio and re-open in a limited capacity for Youth Summer Camps and Adult Classes.

2019

In honor of our 20th anniversary, The Crucible announces a new $50,000 scholarship fund for adults, including the Raphael Allen Scholarship Fund, a fund especially for Oakland-Based People of Color, in honor of a dear friend and community member

We also expanded our unique and amazing fire arts program, open sourcing our historical knowledge of the fire arts with a six-part series focused on performance, safety, and fire effects

We also added over 40 brand-new courses for adults, including a variety of multidisciplinary, advanced, and one-day options

2018

In January, the first group of youth students ever use the Machine Shop

In March, Crucible Blacksmith Celeste Flores and Welder Don Plumb design and fabricate the Bay Series trophy from Bay Bridge Steel, alongside Scientific Art Studio

In April, The Crucible wins Oakland Magazine’s Reader’s Choice for Best Art Classes and Best Crafting Classes in the East Bay

In July, Susan Mernit joins The Crucible as our new Executive Director

2017

In February, Hot Couture expands to four nights of fire and fashion

In June, Mayor Libby Schaaf presents Oakland Warriors a key to the City of Oakland created by our Foundry department

In June, eight students who grew up participating in our Youth Programs join our regular faculty

In June, Pre-Apprentice Archway is installed over main studio entrance

2016

In July, the Fuego Youth Leadership Program doubles in size, accommodating 20 high school students during summer camps

In May, National MakerEd conference held at The Crucible for educators

In September, the Pre-Apprentice sculpture is installed in front of The Crucible

2015

In June, youth summer camps expand to six full weeks of programming, with 800 youth students engaged in summer programs

In October, The Crucible is awarded The Civic Award for Public Benefit and Community Empowerment from Civic Pride

In December, The Crucible is featured in the New York Times article “36 Hours in Oakland, California”

2014

In June, Pre-Apprentice Program launches, culminating in a public art project with City Slicker Farms

In July, The Crucible hosts East Bay Mini Maker Faire Kick-off and Town Hall

In July, win Oakland Magazine’s Editor’s Award for Best Place To Share Creative Quality Time With Your Teen

2013

In March, artist in residence at The Asian Art Museum

In July, we participate in the East Bay Open Studios for the first time

In October, The Crucible hosts Urban Manufacturing Association Convening Kick-Off Party & Manufacturing Day Celebration

2012

In May, the Bike Bridge installed in Uptown Oakland, led by Michael Christian and fabricated by young women from our Youth Programs

In April, we host our first Science of Art open house, in partnership with the Exploratorium

In November, The Crucible hosts 50 Years of Studio Art Glass

2011

In January, The Crucible produces the Revival performance retrospective

In May, we start the first year of our Fuego Youth Leadership Program

In July, we produce Inferno: A Fire Circus

2010

In April, our Youth Program displays their altered bike frames at the DeYoung Friday Night Programming

In June, artist in residence at California Academy of Sciences

In July, we produce Heat: A Fire Cabaret

2009

To celebrate our ten year anniversary in January, we produce our first entirely original theatrical event, the fire ballet Dracul: Prince of Fire, written by Michael Sturtz

The Crucible hosts the Annual Enamelist Society Conference in August

In October, The Crucible takes a trip to the Exploratorium to host a Cartonería workshop

2008

Celebrate our ninth anniversary in January by producing the first Hot Couture

In April, produce the fire ballet Firebird “L’oiseau de feu” to raise money in support of The Crucible’s programming

In July, artist in residence at de Young Museum, in conjunction with the Dale Chihuly glass exhibit

2007

In January, we produce our first Fire Ballet, Romeo & Juliet

In April, Kristy Alfieri, Education Director, and Carla Hall, Youth and Community Manager, receives the Bay Area Jefferson Award

In September, The Crucible’s Die-sel Moto sets a new diesel motorcycle landspeed world record at 130.614 MPH

2006

In January, launch the Youth Fired Up Program

Red Caboose is donated, rebuilt, and refurbished as a functioning work space in April

Install solar panels on the roof and begin to offset our electrical use in May

2005

Mother of All Reality TV show for National Geographic Channel in January

In January, begin to re-offer youth classes, but now at the Oakland location

In February, we host the very first community Bike Fix-A-Thon in collaboration with The Bike Kitchen in San Francisco

2004

The First Fire Opera, Dido & Aeneas by Henry Purcell, is performed to celebrate our 5th Anniversary in January

Hold our Aquatic Fire Opera Fundraiser in May

In July, we host the first Oakland Fire Arts Festival, featuring the Hand of God by the Flaming Lotus Girls, our largest urban fire installation to-date

2003

Grand reopening in March of our new Oakland facility with the “Ignite!” gala event, where Mayor Jerry Brown dedicates the building by breaking a flaming bottle of champagne over an anvil

In June, conduct a special bronze pour for Industrial Light & Magic to create raw footage of molten metal for animated credits on Pirates of the Caribbean movie

Open our doors for our first annual GIFTY holiday art sale and open house in December

2002

Michael Sturtz presents bronze commemorative fire axe to the heroes of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY Battalion 8 Midtown, in honor of 9/11) in February

In September, begin the Phoenix Fundraising Campaign so The Crucible can move to larger facility

The Crucible closes Ashby/Murray facility in Berkeley in October

2001

First Student Art Show and Spring Open House in April

Begin hourly shop rental for experienced students and individuals in July

Start offering corporate team building workshops in September

2000

Launch our SPARC (Student Program and Resources at The Crucible) Youth Program with five classes in January

Expand our facility from 6,000 to 17,000-square-feet

Start offering by-appointment tours and field trips 

1999

The Crucible is founded by Michael Sturtz

First art classes begin in March

Dreams become reality with the first ever Fire Arts Festival in Berkeley, a one-day production in June

Help Us Keep Making History

The last twenty years couldn’t have happened without you. The Crucible has been lucky to have the support of our community, our mayors, our students, donors, friends, neighbors, members, and Oakland. Commit to another 20 years with us.

Get Involved