The biggest problems I had was lack of funds. If I could show them a way to do it free or very cheap, they would "work with me".
This struck a real chord with me. I teach at an art center too and
despite an expensive new building designed by a world famous
architect, they are still perpetually short of funds. A lot of the
equipment is donated and the staff has proved good at soliciting
equipment from firms that make or use such things. There are also
patrons who are rich enough to donate and there are instructors
who are good at adapting things to fit needs. It took me about
three years to get an old enameling kiln moved so it would fit
under the big hood designed for casting and enameling. I had told
them not to close with the contractor until the necessary plug had
been installed but they did anyway. Things are improving. Good
heavy work tables were finally bought at a school auction, the kiln
was just moved, and finally the storage closet is being provided
with shelves and pegboard. Sometimes it’s a matter of talking to
the right person. I made friends with a night maintenance man who
works a daytime general construction job. He can wire plugs, and do
good solid carpentry. He has moved into teaching a woodworking
class and has turned out to be a natural teacher. He understood my
complaints about shelving. This beautiful building was built
without specialized storage or room storage of any sort. White
walls with no splash guards behind sinks, no sound baffles, and an
industrial/arty exposed ceiling with pipes etc. My closet which
took a year to get closed off was a nook between a door and wall.
For a long time it had no shelves although I had talked to people
who seemed to understand what I was saying. I drew pictures.
Finally, one shelf was built square across the middle. I’m short,
5’1’. I couldn’t reach the back wall where they stuck an old and
insufficient tool cabinet Most of my students are women and a fair
number of them are also short. The four large doors were built of
thin plywood and painted flat white on one side. I then had curly
doors! After the middle shelf was built, I came in one night and
it looked as if they were going to subdivide the top and bottom
with two more big shelves! Somehow, the fit that I threw got that
stopped. This art center brags about being up to date with OSHA
air exchanges. I constantly mentioned that about the kilns. It
might help with your situation. Oh yes, the soldering bench is an
old high school chemistry bench which means students have to stand.
When the building was planned, I repeatedly asked for a sit down
bench. The wood which is not covered with the thin metal which is
constantly pulling out of it’s tacks, is becoming scorched and
charred but so far so good. It seemed like a good idea to someone.
I don’t normally write and rant like this…sorry. I haven’t even
mentioned the night I came to class and found the old metal storage
cabinet with no back had been removed and the contents were in a
jumbled pile on the floor. Atop this pile was a three foot long by
maybe six inch wooden box of chemicals including two partial
bottles of nitric acid. Gr-r-r-r-! This caused to errupt in a
really big fit and I am basically a quiet person.