Nonprofit Renovates on a Shoestring

Nonprofit Renovates on a Shoestring

September 2011Nonprofit organizations often operate on shoestring budgets, especially when they’re just starting out. So when one-year-old nonprofit recording studio The Record Company found its space in a local youth center flooded, it was a huge blow.

The Record Company provides youth programming to teach sound recording skills to teens who are interested in the industry and offers studio space at very affordable rates to the local music community. They were off to a strong start, but “the flood destroyed everything we owned,” said Matthew McArthur, the organization’s president.

Recognizing that the space was bound to flood again, they decided to move, and Matt found some affordable digs on Mass. Ave. in Boston near Newmarket Square. But serious renovation was needed—the space had been a rubber stamp factory for 40 years, and a meatpacking facility before that. Happily, Matt heard about the Reuse Center at Boston Building Resources from Kevin Cradock Woodworking, which has a workshop one floor below. Where the woodworkers had donated leftover materials, Matt could hunt for the supplies he needed to keep renovation costs to a minimum.

Windows were Matt’s main acquisition. “Acoustical windows can cost $5,000 each,” he said. Prices at the Reuse Center ranged from $40 each to free. He got creative with two trapezoidal gable windows, installing them back to back to create a single acoustical-quality fixed window between the recording space and a conference room.

The bathroom sink, faucet, and fixtures are Reuse Center finds. A light fixture designed to top a lamppost hangs upside down, lighting the way for visitors as they come up the stairs. “The artist community loves reuse,” Matt said, and they appreciate seeing the way materials have been adapted and used in the studio.

While working and coordinating with a general contractor, “we did a lot of the work ourselves,” said Matt. For instance, all the doors were installed by the father of one of the studio’s supporters. Many of the construction materials were provided at cost by a local company, and the all-important audio hardware and software was donated as well. “We wouldn’t be where we are now without the support of the community.”

Today, recording has resumed, and soon youth programming will start up again full-force. Whether on a shoestring or a guitar string, The Record Company is back in session.