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Director of Gateway Arts to Step Down in June 2022

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Director of Gateway Arts to Step Down in June 2022 Photo of Rae Edelson in front of colorful abstract painting

(Brookline, MA) Gateway Arts, a Vinfen service announced this month that Rae Edelson, who has been the Director of Gateway Arts for more than 44 years, will step down as of June 30, 2022. Edelson will work closely with Vinfen, the Gateway Arts staff, and the Gateway Advisory Committee to create a transition that ensures the sustainability and success of the studio art center into the future. 

Gateway Arts has flourished under Edelson’s leadership. She has worked with state agencies, funding sources, individuals with disabilities, and families of adults with disabilities to build a successful studio art center, including a store, gallery, and online presence. Edelson expanded the service to include other artistic pursuits such as writing for publication, jewelry, folk art, drama, and music.   

Edelson is a persuasive individual, enthusiastic, and passionate regarding the Gateway Arts mission to create meaningful lives as working artists for individuals with disabilities. She can identify the intersections between what she wishes to accomplish and the mission that other people and agencies bring to the table. When working with agencies, she persuades funders of the feasibility of art as a career for some people with disabilities and addresses the goals of rehabilitation outcomes that are essential for federal mandates.  

In the late 70s, Edelson embarked upon a plan to develop the small Gateway Crafts program into a stable, comprehensive arts center. Over the first twenty-five years of her career, she developed economic strategies to create financial stability. Diversification of income was the key, and she expanded revenue sources by creating innovative services for new disability groups as well as hard-to-serve individuals who could be privately funded. With Gateway’s parent corporation, Vinfen, she raised $150,000 to make Gateway handicapped-accessible. When funds waned due to state budget cuts, she balanced the budget through new funding sources so that service cuts were not necessary. Edelson works with the dreams of artists and staff, giving autonomy to individuals so that they are driven by their own energy and vision. She has a long-range plan to sustain the art center beyond her tenure and has developed an advisory committee who share the goals of the organization, working towards them now and into the future. Edelson stands up for her beliefs and does not give up on achieving goals that she feels are essential to the integrity of the organization. 

Rae Edelson’s leadership brought remarkable growth and expansion to the service. During her tenure she: 

  • Grew the population of artists served from 12 to 100+ including individuals with developmental and other disabilities such as head injury, cerebral palsy, visual and hearing impairment, mental illness, and autism spectrum disorders. 
  • Expanded services by growing the budget from $60k to over $2 million. 
  • Expanded funding sources from a single payer DDS to diversified funding including Department of Mental Health, Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, Statewide Head Injury Program, Perkins School for the Blind, and private pay 
  • Developed partnerships with educational institutions through internship programs, museums and museum shops, and studio art centers across the country and in England. 
  • Consulted on establishing art centers and developing art services in Minneapolis, New York City, Washington D.C., Canada, Cambridge, England and for agencies in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, and Maine. 
  • Developed the Gateway Advisory Committee which advises and supports the art center through fundraising and advocacy as well as creating avenues for the inclusion of Gateway artwork in prominent private collections and galleries here and abroad. 
  • Expanded fundraising and grant proposals by raising over $400k annually 
  • Invested in Gateway’s internal systems, and staff retention by increasing compensation and benefits. 
  • Expanded business opportunities for artists through development of publications, resumes, business cards, and bodies of work. 

For more information, please email Gatewayarts@vinfen.org