Feudalism Funded, Free Enterprise Need Not Apply

Telling it like it is. Someone’s got to do it so we can find a better way. Out with the Old! In with the New!


The classic Mother and Baby Seal by Andersen Design. Photo by Mackenzie Andersen

On a personal note:

Just a few minutes ago, I received word that I must move out of my place by June.

It is my life’s mission to do the right thing for Andersen Design but Boothbay has never been supportive of Andersen Design or small enterprises in general. My greatest tie is to Grimes Cove where I swim but since the big storm in January, I do not know what will be possible at Grimes Cove. This week another storm took out the last of the three trees. All of Shore Road seems like it is under attack by Mother Nature.

So I have no ties to the Peninsula. I pray that this difficult news turns into a new transition where I can find a community that welcomes my ideas about the future of Andersen Design. It could be anywhere but I am attached to the ocean. I appreciate any tips from anywhere. The ideal location is one where the ordinances allow for the creation of the community that I have been envisioning. Currently, ordinances in Boothbay would probably not allow it.

Continuing with the post I was composing when I got this news.

I am in a unique position to view the wealth redistribution economy. Andersen Design practices in a creative industrial field populated with non-profits.

I can testify that within the crafts world, the non-profit world holds the free enterprise world in disdain. Although the non-profit world claims to be “for the public good’ It habitually excludes individuals and free enterprise from its definition of “the public”, even as non-profit organizations engage in the free enterprise market, changing all the long-established rules of that market to the advantage of the non-profit organizations and the disadvantage of the artisans.

There is The Center For Maine Crafts. Years ago when it opened its store along the Maine Turnpike in Gardiner, I was considering joining the Maine Crafts Association which was in partnership with the Maine Turnpike Authority in bringing this retail craft store about. However, to present one’s products for consideration it was required to drive a long distance in the winter to one of several locations where the organization had hours for viewing products and charged a “jury fee” for crafters to have their work considered by the buyers of a retail store. I have no doubt that if I were willing to go along with the program the Andersen line would be accepted and would do very well in such a store, which would likely have brought more customers to our store, but I couldn’t do it, as a matter of principle. Andersen Design sold to retail stores all over the country, including museum stores such as The Brooklyn Museum and the Museum of Natural History. We also sold to Itoya in Japan, a department store in Denmark, and catalogs like the Smithsonian. We never paid a jury fee to present our work to the buyer, and so I decided not to become a member of the Maine Crafts Association or to sell our work at the Center for Maine Crafts.

The jury fee far exceeded that of shows for which jury fees are appropriate while the application did not commit to any terms of agreement. The terms might be commission or might be wholesale. Pay upfront, and take your chances that there will be any resemblance to the fair terms of doing business that existed before the non-profits entered the marketplace. The crafters were required to pay a jury fee whether or not their work was accepted. In the context of online financial institutions, such a fee falls into the category of financialization, fees that are charged not for a service or something that produces something else, but for passing through a gate. The inappropriate jury fee typifies the way the non-profit organizations enter a world that they look upon with disdain and change all of its rules that have long existed by shared agreement of what constitutes fair practice.

Andersen Design was established in 1952 when wealth distribution was shared widely among the greatest number of people, before there was a large non-profit economy and before the state governments instituted programs to centrally manage the economy and so Andersen Design was established as a free enterprise, a sector of the economy targeted for exclusion by almost every organization I interact with today. The small enterprise free market is treated as unworthy of any support, but it is the world that I love. and believe is infinitely better than the feudalistic system that is replacing it, but as long as the free enterprise sector is excluded from the conversation, no one is going to say so.

So here I am.

Of course, there is competition within the free enterprise market but people, in general, are friendly and respectful of each other. This is not true in the non-profit and government world where one is not allowed to present a proposal on equal terms with everyone else practicing in one’s field. The door is slammed in one’s face as a manner of introduction. One is given word salad explanations about why one is excluded from the community with no avenue of appeal or discussion.

This is what happened when I approached the head of my local economic development council, Wendy Wolf, who is now on the Boothbay Harbor Planning Board. Although the JECD had just spent 79000.00 of taxpayer money, including ours, Ms Wolf would not acknowledge that I was presenting a concept and used well-chosen words to tell me to get lost when she said. ”We cannot give help to individual businesses”. Instead, the JECD was funding an advertising campaign for Boothbay Harbor business during the Botanical Garden’s Festival of Lights, an expense that traditionally belongs to the Chamber of Commerce, in another move by a government or non-profit agency entering the field of commerce and changing long-established and accepted rules of fair play.

I was proposing a Museum of American Designer Craftsmen which qualifies as much as a community of businesses as do the downtown Boothbay Harbor merchants, but using the same technique as the foundations, Ms. Wolf qualified my idea as one benefitting an “individual business” merely because the messenger presenting the idea is an individual who also has another role in a free enterprise. The IRS code disqualifies contributions that benefit individuals rather than an “indeterminate number of people” but the wealth-redistribution world turns that around to disqualify individual organizers of a project without any consideration of the beneficiaries of the project. Ms Wolf, in her individual capacity of speaking for the JECD so deemed that individuals are not allowed to present ideas for a community. Only groups can present ideas and so far no one has proposed a museum concept, although museums are educational institutions and should be considered in the current conversation about education.

The JECD was disbanded before acting on any ideas of their generously funded regional plan created by New York consultants for our local community. From my perspective, the reason the plan was commissioned was to satisfy the demand of the Town selectmen that the JECD have a plan and so the JECD purchased one because they have the money to buy a plan but cannot create a plan themselves or with the help of the community.

My family created a complex business organization. Dad did not study business management, he just grew up on a farm, which is the original business in a home.

After dealing with these institutions for years I have concluded that they have no idea what they are talking about or what they are doing. A high-placed director of the Maine Community Foundation tells me that as a fiscally sponsored individual manager of a community project, I cannot apply because the Foundation does not write checks to individuals only to 501 (3)C organizations, and I have to wonder why a high placed executive in a Foundation does not know that as a fiscally sponsored project, the contributions I receive are written to the fiscal sponsor, a 501 (3) C Organization and disbursed to me through my fiscal sponsor? Watershed asks its artist-in-residence about the experience in “large-scale production” and, giving Watershed the benefit of the doubt, I have to assume that Watershed has no idea what that term means, otherwise, it is planning on operating a large-scale production using free labor through its artist-in-residence program, which is too far out to believe.

Now I have been told by the foundation that I thought would allow me to apply that I cannot apply after all because they do not accept individuals or companies, one must be a non-profit organization, as if non-profit organizations are not companies (corporations) and, in conjunction with our centrally managed economy, are changing the economic system of the USA from free enterprise to feudalism as they acquire large parcels of land and property. to become members of the ownership class that is growing increasingly exclusive.

I wondered who funds the foundations. On ProPublica. I learned that the family foundation of Maine that told me I am not allowed to apply has many other locations by the same name in other states and an investment portfolio but that is only reported as investment amounts. One can also see the list of organizations to which the Foundation contributed that year, which are arts and social organizations and no economic development causes, mirroring the way that the State redistributes wealth as investment capital to the top of the economy and rations to the rest, all good causes but no support for upward mobility, in fact the policies discourage upward mobility at the bottom, It is feudalism by design, dividing the populous into an ownership class and a serf class.

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The Foundation supports many museums but I am not allowed to apply for a grant for A Museum, of American Designer Craftsmen because I am an individual with a free enterprise background.

Candid advises looking for foundations that fund in one’s field and so I looked at Watershed donors page, but I soon found that foundations that fund Watershed reject Andersen Design on the premise that either I am an individual or a free enterprise. It doesn’t matter, If a Foundation supports or turns a blind eye to Watershed’s economic treatment of artisans, it would unlikely support my cause.

I perceive that the production that Watershed operates as a throwback to serf labor and more exploitative than the Lords of the Manor, who only claimed a share of the fruits of labor, not all of it.

The Watershed production, supported to the tune of millions by foundations and donors, portrays its production as an “artist in residence program” The description for the seven-month winter program is a residency for a single artist who receives a $4000.00 stipend for which the artist must produce 530 pieces

The Salad Days Artist spends seven months at Watershed – from September to April – producing 500 plates or shallow bowls for the following summer’s Salad Days. The Artist is also commissioned to create approximately thirty small functional or decorative pieces for Watershed’s sustained giving donors.

Watershed selects an artist annually to create 500 plates or shallow bowls for the following year’s Salad Days. Over the course of seven months – from September to April – the artist lives and works on campus making their Salad Days pieces and becoming integral member of the Watershed community. Click here for more information about the Salad Days Artist Residency.

I misunderstood the first time I read this and thought it was a group of artisans producing 530 pieces each, but on re-read I interpret it as one artisan who produces all of the pieces used in Watershed’s Salad Days Fundraiser and receives a stipend that works out to about 142.00 a week. The artist also receives room and board and use of the studio space, which is necessary for producing the 530 shallow plates or bowls.

The traditional definition of a stipend:

  • The stipend refers to an employer’s remuneration for an internship, apprenticeship, training, or academic research. It is mostly paid on a weekly or monthly basis.
  • The training or lessons the trainee or intern receives should help them in their career or studies, and the employer should not benefit by making the trainee do an employee’s work for lesser compensation. Wallstreet Mojo

The above description is how a stipend works in a free enterprise system but Watershed emphasizes that the artist must have the ability to work independently, meaning the “artist in residence” is not receiving supervision or education In fact, the Watershed application asks about the artist’s experience in “large scale production” so Watershed is seeking someone with working experience. Watershed benefits from the work produced by the “artist in resident” by using the work for its fundraiser.

Since most of the jobs listed under employment have to do with fundraising, marketing and administration, and maintenance of the studio space, it raises the question of why aren’t the 530 pieces produced for a fundraising event treated as a job for an employee, especially in light of the five million plus funds that Watershed has received. The fact that the one job having to do with fundraising that requires skills and talent in the ceramic-making process is not an employment position speaks to the value placed on the ceramic process by the non-profit organization.

The artist in residence do not get to keep their work, so why do they do it? Perhaps because they can’t afford to rent studio space and this allows them to explore their creativity, as my Dad had access to facilities when he was Dean of the Akron Art Institute. Coming from a free enterprise perspective I find the residency exploitative of the artist but what it is exploiting is most significant. Watershed is exploiting the prevalent desire among the population to make ceramics, explore ideas, and work independently, all of which my project, the one I am not allowed to present, forming a network of independently owned but collaborative maker studios, offers as well, but with better terms for the artisan.

The Summer residencies are for two weeks with themes created and organized by the artisans, This is the best deal for the artisans as they are allowed to develop their own work or projects, and the fees are covered by the donors:

Residency fees and room and board fees are subsidized thanks to generous support from our donors. The total cost to support an artist at Watershed for a two-week residency session is more than $3900*. Watershed does not expect any artist to cover these full costs themselves. The donor-subsidized fee that invited artists cover is the combined total of the residency fee and the room and board fees listed below.

…..This core group anchors the session. Additional participating artists then apply to join the themed session via our Summer Residency application. Once the whole group is in residence, all participating artists form one community during their thematic retreat.

…….The organizer participates in the residency free-of-charge*. The fee waiver covers studio space, lodging in a double occupancy room, and meals. Watershed offers fully-funded residency spots to organizers because of the integral role they play in developing and hosting a successful session. Watershed website

In the free enterprise system, such an organizer would be paid (shudder) and paid well if they are good at what they do, but at least Watershed is recognizing the organizer’s contributions by giving them meals and free board in a “double occupancy room” and access to the facilities. That’s what an owner must provide for slave labor. It’s called property maintenance. The programs that the organizers run and organize for two weeks bring in more than 3900.00 per member of the workshop for which Watershed expenses are providing beds and meals to the participants.

Occasionally two artists share the organizer role as co-organizers. In this case, they each receive a 50% discount on their residency, double-occupancy room, and board fees at the invited artist rate.

Invited artists receive a 25% discount on their residency fee. Invitees pay for lodging and meals at the regular donor-subsidized rates, listed below, as well as materials and firing costs. Artists are required to live on campus during the residency.

Session organizers are responsible for replacing invitees who drop out. Watershed will work with session organizers to find replacement invitees, as needed. If the number of confirmed invitees drops below four and a replacement is not found, organizers no longer receive a discount and are responsible for covering their own session fees at the invitee rate. (This has never happened, as we work closely with organizers to help ensure that it won’t!) Watershed website

That’s non-profit generosity!

Rounding off “more than $3900” to $4000 dollars per invitee, that’s $16000.00 for Watershed for two weeks of serving meals. If the project managers fail in their jobs of bringing in at least 4 invitees, then they don’t get free room and meals which is the only form of pay that they receive for their work. There is no mention of who has the ownership rights over any art or intellectual property produced by the project.

What happens if the project managers bring in more than four invitees? (Maximum is 6) That is not covered in the terms but the project managers don’t get free room and board if they bring in a mere 12000 worth of revenue for Watershed.

In the free enterprise system, it is rare that being paid or not is tied to a level of success achieved. There may be a bonus for achievement but no withholding pay if an objective is not met (within reason).

In this series of letters I recently unearthed, the partners with whom my Dad was negotiating planned on clawing back the funding for Dad’s efforts if things didn’t work out, but Dad did not let them get away with it.

A person deserves payment for the effort put into a project since goals are not guaranteed for all kinds of reasons. How much is it costing Watershed to provide a room and meals for the project managers?

According to Non-Profit Explorer Watershed’s revenue for 2022 was $4,176,018. That is a lot more than Andersen Design ever made in a year but we paid our employees including our trainees because that’s how it works in the free enterprise system, the system that causes Andersen Design to be prohibited from applying for a grant.

According to the the 2022 990 form filed by Watershed, program service revenues were 193,678.—. Can they afford to give free room and meals to project managers even if they fall short of bringing in $16000.00 for a two-week program?

According to the 990 reports, only one individual gets paid at Watershed and that is the executive director who made a salary of $72,324.00 and received additional benefits worth S3,817.00. Watershed is not disqualified from applying for grants because it is said to benefit an individual.

This is the economic system that Watershed funders support but I am not allowed to present my project that delivers similar values and better benefits for the designer craftsmen community because Andersen Design operates in the free enterprise which overall offers much better terms for workers and artisans than the non-profit sector.

What does the Andersen Design Free Enterprise version look like? My vision in its wholeness is a community composed of a variety of elements. It seems unwieldy now but if the pieces start to fall into place that could change quickly. The intangible assets that Andersen Design possesses can be the glue that holds it all together. The idea came about because of the assets. I was casting the line by myself in our studio and it had grown so large that by the time I cycled back to the start I forgot the special tricks it takes to make a piece work until I had done a couple of casts, and I thought, there needs to be a network of small studios.

  • The Andersen Design research and development facilities would be privately owned.
  • The Museum, in addition to standard museum functions, would be a non-profit fiscal sponsor that would help artisans by fiscally sponsoring them to raise funds for studios and projects that the artists would own. It would be different from other fiscal sponsors because the Museum would offer a support community and space for fundraisers. The Museum would support any maker in any discipline and function as a community meeting place. It would be a network of museums spread across many communities.
  • The artist in residency might be a program to train artisans how to produce an Andersen product in their independently-owned studio, which could be located at any distance and so an in-residency program might be required for training.
  • There would be a marketing team, gallery space, and of course, the Andersen Design website could be expanded upon to include a curated group of artisans, consistent with the Andersen brand.


Andersen Design was founded as a free enterprise by artist-designers engaged in the ceramic process who made a significant contribution to the field, winning awards before Andersen Design was established and then created a large body of work because Andersen Design was established. Once the Andersens decided to create their own “factory” and operate a complex free enterprise that incorporated the designing, making, and marketing of ceramics, there was no further time for entering competitions. The path they had chosen was all-consuming. Today there is an established base of collectors and name recognition in the field that is an advantage for re-entering the market with the Andersen product line, expanded to include other products consistent with the Andersen brand, which has long stood, not against individual visionaries but for individualism.

In concept, an Andersen Design residency would involve training in how to make the Andersen product, which requires a complex understanding of all aspects of ceramic making starting at the molecular level, which is an ever-present consciousness in the making of a product that begins with raw materials formed into bodies, glazes, and decorating colors and functional forms and wildlife sculptures. The benefits of such a residency continue as long as the artisan wants to be involved in the making of ceramics. Having the ability to produce a hand-crafted Andersen product means the artisan is connected to a marketing channel grounded in history with roots going back to the 1950s. An artist working in his or her studio has a large degree of self-determination about how to fit into the larger organization and in what capacity to engage within a field that opens up for them in a unique way in the long term as a result of the residency.


Knowing how to produce an Andersen product advances the artisan’s ability to make an income producing ceramics after the residency is over.

Advice for how to go about fundraising is to consult directories of Foundations and donors, which can be had at a considerable fee for someone just starting. Some foundations such as the Wingate Foundation which funded Watershed with five million dollars, do not accept unsolicited applications. Candid advises expanding one’s social networks to build connections to such foundations.

Engaging with organizations that slam the door in one’s face based on a policy they have against individuals and free enterprises is a very abusive experience. That is why I am posting about my project here. My fiscal sponsor, The Field, found me and solicited me to apply for fiscal sponsorship and they are the best relationship that I have in the non-profit world. So I am going to try that approach by continuing to write about my project in this newsletter so I hope my reader does not become bored, but I always cover other subjects as well. Right now while I have this additional disruptive challenge to deal with, I do not need to be dealing with the anti-individual, anti-free enterprise attitude. I think it is an old worn-out attitude that is thoughtlessly adopted.

If it is easy, with little cost beyond what I am doing, I will still apply to some foundations. I have discovered an alternative way to learn about foundations is by searching Pro Publica. There is lots of valuable information to be found there, but time is of the essence. I already felt that way before todays news. Now it is even more so. I need my energy to be in a good place, and this is how I do it.

Mackenzie Andersen

Andersen Design

Mackenzie Andersen is a sponsored artist with The Performance Zone Inc (dba The Field), a not-for-profit, tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) organization serving the performing arts community. Contributions to The Field earmarked for Mackenzie Andersen are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. For more information about The Field, or for our national charities registration, contact: The Field, 75 Maiden Lane, Suite 906 New York, NY 10038, phone: 212-691-6969. A copy of our latest financial report may be obtained from The Field or from the Office of Attorney General, Charities Bureau, 120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271.

Donate Mackenzie’s Profile on the Field


About Susan Mackenzie Andersen

I was blessed with being raised in this amazing business in a home that uses ceramic slip-cast production as an art form. My mission is to set this business up so that others can enjoy the same lifestyle while benefitting from what Andersen Design created. Follow me on my substack blog, Mackenzie Andersen's The Individual vs The Empire! I write about the public-private-non-profit-profit wealth concentration and redistribution industrial complex - and then I dream a better world.

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