Ceramics studio programs for the less privileged?
August 9, 2018 12:50 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for specific examples of programs, in any location, that bring the benefits of ceramics studio practice to a broader group of people than those who might typically afford a $100 - $200 per month hobby.

I took up ceramics as a hobby a couple of years ago and found it to be revelatory: there's something so elemental about it, something therapeutic, plus the satisfaction of slowly acquiring new skills and interests in the field. I noticed two things pretty immediately upon signing up for courses and studio memberships:

1. It's an expensive hobby that excludes working class and poor people, and on the whole every studio I've been to is a disproportionately upper middle class to rich (and also white) space.

2. It seems to be a practice that attracts people who are either working through trauma or are at a crossroads in their lives.

I'm trying to learn about programs / organizations with a specific mission about broadening access to adults and/or kids, and providing affordable or even free studio access and instruction. I'm also interested in programs that do this from a therapeutic perspective.

Just for context, things I'm a little bit less interested in:

1. Public school programs, just because I know these classes exist for kids.

2. Municipal programs that are technically "community" programs but cost close to normal studio fee and tend to attract the same old clientele, in my experience.
posted by kensington314 to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Dunedin, NZ, has an amazing place called Artsenta. They do all media and ceramic seems to be a big part. You need to have had formal contact with the state mental health system to qualify. I walk by often as they have a display window of student work.
posted by unearthed at 1:12 PM on August 9, 2018

Where I live, we have REACH Art Studio, which offers ceramics among other things, with a specific mission to keep costs low. They particularly aim at youth under 18 but have some programs for adults. We have friends whose kids have been involved with them for years, and my kids and I have very much enjoyed some family classes. Their prices are scaled to family size and income, by self-report. Open Clay Studio costs $150 for 3 months; people pay for their own clay. The studio is located in one of the poorer neighborhoods in Lansing, but draws in participants from all over the area, which is nice. It's good for the suburbanites like me, and folks who live in nearby small towns, to get into the city once in awhile.
posted by Orlop at 1:17 PM on August 9, 2018

I go to open studio at the Pavillon d’Éducation Communautaire in Montreal's Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough. PEC is a public continuing education resource in a traditionally working class (recently gentrifying) neighbourhood; I lived there when I started attending PEC but no longer do. If you explore the website (in French), they have quite a lot of info there about how they're funded, but it seems that in brief it's about half from various public or private agencies. PEC runs a few art programs, second language courses, and I believe day programs for folks with intellectual disabilities. It hosts a free legal aid clinic, a cafe, a daycare, and a maker space... and in fact, this list isn't complete, and neither is the one on the website. They do a LOT for the community. Baaaasically it's the best. Their mission is about public continuing education in general; art is only part of that.

To participate in their open studio I pay a $5 annual membership fee plus $50 for the school year--and that includes 20 lbs of clay/glazes/firing. The open studio is available 5 business days a week during the day, with one evening with a volunteer around who answers the occasional glazing/firing question. I also pay throughout the year for additional clay, and occasionally throw some money in the donation envelope, because I know how lucky I am to have access to this. The open studio is still a largely white space (this reflects neighbourhood demographics, though) but as far as I can assume from studio chats, there's a range of class backgrounds represented, maybe leaning more middle class than anything else. PEC also offers a weekly course that costs about the same as open studio, but I've never been so am not sure who attends.

There are also several ceramics courses at various community centres in Montreal, all of which are less expensive than the typical art centre arrangements, but nevertheless still considerably more than PEC.
posted by snorkmaiden at 2:05 PM on August 9, 2018

If anyone know about resources like this in New York City, please comment! I'm looking at this with interest.
posted by starlybri at 4:15 PM on August 9, 2018

Clay Art Center in Port Chester, NY has all of these things - therapy, scholarships, free classes for residents, plus full-priced classes for those that can afford it, artist residencies, and labor-exchange.
posted by xo at 5:27 AM on August 10, 2018

Pittsburgh's UNION PROJECT! One of their community-focused arts initiatives is the Clay Case program, which offers free (grant-funded) materials and instruction to classrooms.

(Affiliation disclosure / offer to connect for more info: I have a good friend who works at UP.)
posted by D.Billy at 6:34 AM on August 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Fleisher art memorial in phila offers ceramics classes and open studios http://fleisher.org
posted by WeekendJen at 8:37 AM on August 10, 2018

Kensington, Your profile places you in the Los Angeles area. Going with that and maybe considering more craft than art I suggest Makerspace as an option. The Makerspace in our area provides introductory lessons in ceramics at no cost and access to wheels, kilns and other equipment. A low monthly membership expands opportunities. More info is here.
posted by X4ster at 1:59 PM on August 10, 2018

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