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Meet Rae Edelson of Gateway Arts in Brookline

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rae Edelson.

Rae, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I joined Gateway Crafts in 1978, which was a crafts program for ten individuals with developmental disabilities who had recently been released from state schools under a class action case. The operating budget of the service, funded by the then Department of Mental Retardation, was $60,000 a year, with $800 in annual sales revenue per year, through which artists were paid. Over the course of my career with Gateway, I have expanded it to an internationally recognized studio art center, serving a diversified population of individuals with developmental disabilities, mental health issues, traumatic brain injury, and spectrum disorders. In 1980 Gateway moved from a small basement location in Brighton to our current studio, gallery, and retail space that was developed in Brookline Village. We are a part of a leading human service company, Vinfen, and operate within it as a service with our specialized arts based entrepreneurial model. Our operating budget is now two million dollars a year, with a diversified funding base, and our annual sales are approaching $150,000 a year, through which artists continue to be paid. We develop careers and lives in art, in response to the needs of talented individuals with disabilities in the greater Boston area. We are fortunate, as existing within the art community, to have a huge range of opportunities for our artists, due to the breadth of the art world, locally, nationally, and internationally.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I embrace every challenge that we have faced. Each has been an opportunity for understanding, person centered services, and refining the service that we represent. One of the struggles has been the gap between our largely state funded operating budget, and the cost it takes to maintain an arts based studio center serving people with disabilities. Luckily, we have been able to assemble a wildly talented advisory committee that helps us address our programmatic and financial needs. When we added development to our staffing and mission, we have been able to fight the good fight, fight it successfully, and with style. Our community partners are essential to what we do. Developing services as our population has changed from largely intellectual challenges, to mental health issues, autism, and brain injury, has been one of the joys of my professional life. My education in this job has continued as I have rolled up my sleeves to develop programming and lives in art for this diverse population.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Gateway Arts – what should we know?
The fact that we create professional lives and careers in art for the individuals we serve is the distinguishing characteristic of our studio art center. We are not a workshop, we are not an arts and crafts program, we are a studio center producing art and fine hand crafts by our population, and selling in the outsider art and other contemporary art and crafts outlets. Our street level craft store and our professionally appointed on site gallery are a critical part of our operation. We integrate into the local, national, and international art scene with energy and zest. Our professional staff have dual backgrounds, in both art and human services.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I am relentless in my pursuit of goals, and flexible in the manner in which we achieve them. Intelligence, a love for problem solving, and my dual background in art as a play write and human services as a learning disability specialist, are also key.


  • Paintings ranging from $100-$1200
  • Jewelry ranging from $20-$150
  • Fabric arts ranging from $25-$200
  • Publications and cards $5-$20

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Several images by photographers Katie Swanger, and marketing specialist Justine Portmann

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