Notes from the Director
Summer 2013Northern Clay Center is in the midst of many changes — our demographic, our artist services program, the needs of our constituents, our online presence, the building that is our home — and though it may not always be easy to accept change, we are learning to accept it. And to see the good that can come of it.
Our demographic is slowly shifting, becoming older and wiser. Adults ages 55 and greater now represent a large percentage of our total constituency. Historically, our ClayToGo program served youth and school-aged populations, but in 2009, we expanded its focus and created a new program, ART@HAND, which now serves an average of 2,000 individuals per year through hands-on clay programs, artist talks, tours, and workshops. We are striving to make our programs available to and appropriate for this population, while remaining committed to serving all ages and abilities.
Our artist services program evolves as we continue to define new ways to serve post-BFA and pre- and post-MFA emerging artists, while also balancing the needs of artists who are 55+, whether they are finding their way back to clay or just discovering clay for the first time. We are looking beyond the traditional residency program in an effort to provide more working artists with more resources, employment, and professional development opportunities.
Our constituents’ needs are changing. They need our education programs to be flexible and available and affordable for the youngest of children to the oldest of adults. They need information through fast and efficient means, both electronic and traditional mail. They need the highest quality of exhibitions, sales gallery selections, facilities, and classes. They need to have a voice in what gets created at NCC; they need to be co-producers of what we do. We are listening to their needs and adapting and accommodating in new ways.
Our online presence is changing, in an effort to keep up with the cyber world and e-commerce. Our website needs to be clean and efficient, nimble and fast, visually stimulating and concise. Our “virtual location” needs to have a presence that rivals that of our physical space. We have been working with a designer for the past year, and a web developer for many months, to reshape our website, create new ways in which to share information, and provide resources for artists and educators.
Our building is changing with the seasons and with our peaks and valleys in programming. While much of it is still of appropriate means and quality, some of it now beckons for revision and improvement. We are looking closely at the building’s needs this late spring and summer to identify opportunities for improvement, maintenance, and growth.
Individually (as constituents, funders, artists, board members, volunteers, and staff) we may not always welcome change at the Clay Center, nor do we find it easy, but we as an institution are actively accepting that change is necessary to the growth and relevance of our institution, specifically as it relates to our new strategic objectives — our guide for the next 3 to 5 years. As mentioned in my spring director’s report, they include:
- Enhance all NCC online offerings and grow NCC online ceramic sales.
- Increase visitors, sales, and organizational visibility through renovation of physical facility and a new customer-focused culture.
- Extend NCC’s mission through new partnerships, convenings, and conversations.
- Enhance offerings to artists at all stages of their careers.
- We will still work to advance the ceramic arts.
- We will promote excellence in the work of clay artists, provide educational opportunities for artists and the community, and expand and encourage the public’s appreciation and understanding of all forms of the ceramic arts.
- We will enable the creation and communication of culture.
- We will provide different entry portals to the medium of clay for different levels of interest and capacity, and for different constituents.
- We will engage and involve staff, board members, artists, teachers, students, collectors, and casual visitors in experiences that are intimate and personal, and potentially transformative.
- We will remain committed to quality, responsive to constituents, and willing to accept risk and tolerate failure.
- We will value change, growth, and the quest for excellence.
I hope you will join me in looking forward to the many other changes on our horizon, and the opportunity for NCC to grow with its constituencies along the way.