Our History

The Crucible first opened its doors on January 15, 1999, in a rented 6,000-square-foot West Berkeley warehouse. In 2003, we moved to our current 56,000-square-foot West Oakland facility. Since our founding by sculptor , we have further grown our community-driven industrial arts programming, serving West Oakland and the Greater Bay Area. As the largest nonprofit industrial arts education facility in the United States, we are committed to meeting individuals where they are, welcoming diverse voices, and using art to support creative exploration, personal transformation, and local economic development.

The Beginning



  • A three-year AIG grant is awarded to three partner OUSD Title 1 schools to receive hands-on industrial arts education through The Crucible— McClymonds High School, Castlemont High School, and Rudsdale High School.
  • Our Bike Shop expands free education and repair opportunities with monthly Femme Bike Night events.
  • The Fire and Light Soirée and Art Auction returns after a three-year hiatus.
  • In April, The Crucible’s mobile classroom, ERV 2.0, relaunched, featuring a mobile glass shop, mobile blacksmithing furnace, and outfitted with fire poofers.



  • 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.
  • In December, our Bike Shop expands, creating greater access to sustainable transportation for our community.


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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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 from Civic Pride
  • In December, The Crucible is featured in the New York Times article


  • In June, Pre-Apprentice Program launches, culminating in a public art project with City Slicker Farms
  • In July, The Crucible hosts Kick-off and Town Hall
  • In July, win Editor’s Award for Best Place To Share Creative Quality Time With Your Teen


  • In March, artist in residence at The Asian Art Museum
  • In July, we participate in the for the first time
  • In October, The Crucible hosts Urban Manufacturing Association Convening Kick-Off Party & Manufacturing Day Celebration


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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 MP


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


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


  • 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 


  • The Crucible is founded by
  • 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.