The New Orleans Master Crafts Guild uses a shared service cooperative structure to grow the business of independent New Orleans building trades craftsmen (iron workers, plasterers, brick masons, mill workers, and specialty carpenters) to work together to compete for larger jobs, build necessary administrative and financial capacity, create new jobs, and train a new generation of craftsmen. The Guild is a membership organization that supports the growth of its members’ businesses through three primary strategies:
- Apprenticeship training to develop a new generation of master craftsmen and women,
- Capacity building to grow and sustain members’ businesses, and
- Cultural engagement to raise the profile of these craftsmen and their trade.
Jacob Lawrence, Builder #4, Collection of New Orleans Museum of Art
“By creating sturdy structures, building tradesmen provide us with a reassuring context in which subsequent civilizing acts might flourish; culture commences from the sense of place that flows from their diligent command over mundane materials. The features that so delight our eyes flow from fine skills honed by years of customary practice. What they fashion for us is nothing less than the contexts of our daily experiences.”