During the summer of 1988, a small group of stringed instrument makers and repair technicians met with the intent of establishing a not-for-profit professional trade organization. Most simply, we preferred to be an "association," deciding to focus specifically on "stringed instruments," and we felt that the word "artisans" best described our mutual activities. Hence, the Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans (with the accidental yet recognizable acronym of "ASIA") was born. Michael Dresdner was chosen to launch the concept of ASIA, with the initial goal of facilitating through consensus a mission statement and set of bylaws that would provide a framework of integrity for our future evolution.
With Michael Dresdner's task complete, a Board of Directors was elected and Dick Boak, assuming the voluntary post of editor and executive director, began the task of developing a publication and operating procedure. The ASIA journal began as a very informal 4-page newsletter and grew over the course of several years into the substantial and respected magazine Guitarmaker.
ASIA membership continues to grow substantially. Starting with 20 initial advisors, ASIA's ranks now include makers, repair technicians, and stringed instrument enthusiasts worldwide. In 1991, ASIA had the opportunity to increase membership by fulfilling the subscription responsibility of what had been GPI's String Instrument Craftsman newsletter. Subsequently, ASIA membership has grown annually to its current level of 1750 and is expected to reach 2000 within the next year.
One of the most exciting elements of ASIA has been the bi-annual gatherings or "Symposia," which have served to bring hundreds of makers and repair technicians together to exchange information, exhibit new work, find new sources, be exposed to key lectures, develop lasting friendships, and have fun. Off-year regional seminars and workshops are currently offered in more than twenty different locations.
Though the priorities have certainly evolved, ASIA's basic goals have remained essentially the same:
- to provide a sense of community for instrument makers, repair technicians, and enthusiasts
- to continually increase the level of professionalism within the craft
- to publish an informative, useful, and valued journal for the membership
- to encourage inter-communication through the publication of a cross-referenced membership directory
- to offer multi-level educational Symposia, workshops, and seminars for the field
- to establish a comprehensive database of resources, skills, supplies, and technical information
- to assist the membership in the promotion and marketing of their products