RE-TOOL 21: Art Preparation Skills Development Program

Craft Your Creative Future

Are you an emerging professional looking to develop the skills, knowledge, experience, and confidence to enter the cultural sector? With generous support from the Joyce Foundation, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) is pleased to announce RE-TOOL 21, reimagining access and representation in the 21st-century arts and cultural world and workforce. RE-TOOL 21 seeks to provide training in art preparation and handling to groups historically underrepresented in the art preparation field—in particular with regard to experience, age, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, immigration/refugee status, and ethnicity—and those who support the goal of promoting an inclusive, pluralistic arts and culture sector.

RE-TOOL 21 is a unique series of hands-on skill-building workshops, behind the scenes tours, and opportunities to network with art handling professionals in museums, galleries, exhibition administration and production, and related fields. Art-service professionals, called art handlers or preparators, provide the important groundwork for the safe and secure installation, de-installation, packaging, and storing of art pieces, objects, and artifacts. Applicants who have an interest in the arts and exhibit ongoing enthusiasm to work in the cultural sector will receive the foundational training necessary to seek further employment in the field. This is a part-time, paid opportunity; participants will receive a $1,500 stipend.

Upon completion, individuals will receive support from RE-TOOL 21 staff to identify ongoing work experience opportunities at a variety of cultural sites across the city including but not limited to: small nonprofit galleries, large museums and institutions, private partners, art shipping companies, and fabrication facilities. Participants will also receive a certificate of recognition. Please note, participants who accept an offer must commit to successfully completing all program requirements to receive practicum placement support, certificate of recognition, and stipend. 

Program Objectives

  • Contribute to the racial, economic, and cultural diversity of arts and cultural workers.
  • Provide training for individuals that will allow them to acquire the basic knowledge and skills required to apply for a job in art preparation.
  • Provide a network of ongoing mentorship and support to graduating RE-TOOL 21 cohort participants to ensure a successful transition into the arts and cultural sector.

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Strategic Solutions for Cultural Leadership

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) has received a multi-year planning and implementation grant from the Joyce Foundation to support the Strategic Solutions for Cultural Leadership (SSCL) program. This initiative will provide professional development opportunities for historically underrepresented arts professionals in two categories:

  1. Executive/organizational: senior leaders and their staff currently working in small, neighborhood-based and/or culturally specific arts and culture institutions.
  2. Emerging: early-stage workers seeking entry-level professional development opportunities in the cultural sector.                                                                 


  • Strengthen the cultural sector by building the capacity of small, neighborhood-based and/or culturally specific arts organizations through leadership and organizational development.
  • Actively support the development of a more equitable and diverse cultural ecosystem by creating a talent development pathway to diversify leadership within formal and informal arts institutions.