Strategic Plan: 2020 to 2030

Mission Statement

The Artist-Blacksmith’s Association of North America (ABANA) is dedicated to perpetuating the noble art of blacksmithing. A blacksmith is one who shapes and forges iron with hammer and anvil. ABANA encourages and facilitates the training of blacksmiths; disseminates information about sources of material and equipment; exposes the art of blacksmithing to the public; serves as a center of information about blacksmithing for the general public, architects, interior designers, and other interested parties.

ABANA’s home Office in the historic Train Station in Johnstown, PA

Vision Statement

ABANA, North America’s preeminent association of blacksmiths, strives to honor the legacy and to foster the future of blacksmithing. ABANA conferences, educational materials and publications provide unique blacksmithing access to craftspeople, artists, and the public from the hobbyist to the professional. ABANA’s comprehensive commitment to inclusive artistic expression in the metal arts illustrates both how forged metal work is produced and the role of blacksmithing in historic and contemporary culture. ABANA’s blacksmithing leadership expands opportunity for a diverse membership who leverage ABANA resources to hone their craft skills, to produce world-class forged metal, to market their work, and to advance the art beyond what has been previously possible.

Core Values

ABANA’s core values, which differentiate it from competitors, are grounded in artist-blacksmith practice that embodies both the aesthetic and the functional aspects of the “noble art.” In the words of the Founders:

We, the members of the Artist-Blacksmiths’ Association of North America, do join in our resolve to perpetuate the noble art of blacksmithing. With hammer and anvil, we will forge for the community a richer life. We will preserve a meaningful bond with the past. We will serve the needs of the present, and we will forge a bridge to the future. Function and creativity is our purpose. Our task is great and so is our joy.

These values include:

  • Respect
  • Honor
  • Integrity
  • Dignity
  • Authenticity
  • Inclusivity
  • Creativity
  • Accessibility
  • Forward looking

Competitive Advantage

Founded in 1973 on the notion that the artist-blacksmith views both the functional and aesthetic aspects of the “noble art” as inseparable, ABANA enjoys an abundance of competitive advantages. Chief among these is affordability: The ABANA leadership organizes and manages fund-raising activities that ultimately subsidize membership. Other advantages include:

  • The ABANA Educational Endowment Trust
  • Original content including Forging Fundamentals and technical plans for tools and machines
  • ABANA Disaster Relief Program
  • Affiliate support resources
  • Two flagship publications
  • 501c3 status
  • History of highly regarded conferences
  • Social media presence

2020-2030 Strategic Plan: Strategic goals and objectives

This Strategic Plan guides ABANA by marrying the resources, capabilities, and talents of the membership to achieve ABANA mission accomplishment.

Attain alignment and integration with ABANA Affiliates

  • Promote outreach that ensures that ABANA resources are explicitly recognized by Affiliates
  • Establish relationships across the country to address Affiliates’ needs regarding their 501c3 status, organizational structure, and insurance
  • Leverage ABANA publication and content-production resources to bolster Affiliate identity and boost memberships
  • Establish an interface with ABANA’s professional blacksmith sector
  • Promote endowment-resourced scholarships for affiliate members

Metric: ABANA membership complements regional affiliate memberships and is viewed as necessary to participating in the North American blacksmith community.

Achieve financial viability

  • Grow membership
  • Secure grants systematically from public and private sources
  • Implement a planned giving process that supports both operations and permanent collections whereby members invest in ABANA’s future through donations and bequests
  • Operate ABANA-sponsored activities including conferences, workshops, and the new Johnstown HQ in a fiscally prudent manner that subsidizes ABANA programs to benefit members
  • Expand such revenue-generating activities as ABANA merchandise sales, auctions and raffles, and the sale of licensed plans and the like
  • Solicit targeted donations to support the build out of the Johnstown HQ

Metric: ABANA financial resources subsidize access to ABANA educational and cultural resources, sustain mission accomplishment, and endow the future.

Establish a gateway for regional, national, and international artist-blacksmith collaborations

  • Create and implement a social media plan
  • Increase biannual conference attendance
  • Develop an annual program of artist-blacksmith focused fairs and competitions
  • Broaden publication distribution
  • Develop relationships and promote partnerships with other blacksmithing-focused entities (NOMMA, National Metal Museum, BABA), relevant educational institutions, and regional, national and international entities that feature blacksmithing in historical and cultural contexts (Colonial Williamsburg, Westville).
  • Bolster camaraderie and ABANA’s eminence by supporting organized travel for individual and small groups of members to key blacksmithing sites, educational institutions, etc.
  • Develop Johnstown HQ resources to support member-led educational opportunities
  • Develop a network of satellite galleries to display traveling collections (150mm Challenge) and promote members’ ironwork

Metric: ABANA media resources and sponsored activities broadly and accurately represent what’s happening in the blacksmithing community: members, affiliates, and artist-blacksmith focused entities think of ABANA first when promoting regional, national, and international activities.

Broaden participation in ABANA to include people of all walks of life who wish to share in the noble craft of blacksmithing.

  • Create and deploy messaging illustrating ABANA’s commitment to enhance the diversity of the membership as a means of promoting creativity and innovation.
  • Develop partnerships with institutions and organizations to promote blacksmithing irrespective of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin.
  • Encourage broader participation with targeted grants and scholarships.

Metric: ABANA meets its commitment ensure that everyone associated with ABANA is treated without regard to their race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin.

ABANA provides an exemplar of safe, flexible, and effective processes and procedures that promote skill development and facilitate creativity and innovation

  • Establish ABANA as the premier clearinghouse of information and resources for blacksmiths
  • Develop an ABANA “seal of approval” program that vets and approves content.
  • Establish a program that supports the creation of original content by ABANA members
  • Establish a means to approve and promote existing content
  • Create a content-access schema that meets members needs as both content consumers and producers while encouraging non members to join

Metric:  Members, affiliates and the public view ABANA as the premier clearinghouse of blacksmithing craft and technical information and resources.

Promote public engagement with blacksmithing

  • Promote and enhance ABANA’s image as North America’s eminent arts and crafts association by working closely with ABANA’s publication staff and with relevant professional, civic and private organizations
  • Establish ABANA’s role in the Johnstown Iron to Art Corridor
  • Found a gallery of forged metal art at the Johnstown HQ
  • Create a “Speakers Bureau” from which speakers can be invited to address school groups and other public or private organizations.
  • Own the history of American blacksmithing through engagement with such institutions as Westville, Genesee Country Museum, Colonial Williamsburg and the establishment of a hall of fame and/or remembrance in Johnstown.

Metric: ABANA is viewed as a cultural and historical resource by the public and relevant professionals.

Operationalize the ABANA Education Program

  • Finalize an ABANA hand forging curriculum
  • Fund a means of qualifying ABANA curriculum examiners (judges, testers??)
  • Develop a process by which aspirants can be “certified” at one of the three ABANA curriculum skill levels
  • Launch a program accreditation process through which educational institutions can invite and pay for a program review that will verify the school’s ability to deliver ABANA approved curricula

Metric: The ABANA national curricula is viewed as authentic and accessible in terms of both its technical and craft content and its cultural-historical origins.