We surveyed a variety of community ceramics educators ranging from individuals in private studios to community art/clay centers to accredited educational institutions. We asked them about how they are involved in community education.

Most of the organizations we polled are private studios or small businesses offering classes and/or studio space, and nonprofit organizations with ceramics programming ranging from classes to community outreach, conferences, workshops and exhibitions. Post-secondary educational institutions that also provide community ceramic education comprised 7% of the poll. Organizations that are affiliated in some way with a post-secondary institution comprised 16%; Some offer classes for credit at that institution, and some use the ceramics facilities of those institutions in some capacity.

If you are involved in an organization that has community ceramic education as its mission,
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Hands-on studio instruction seems to be the core of most community clay centers. Even those who offer memberships and studio rental use classes and workshops as a recruiting tool.

  • 95% offer classes to the public; the other 5% offer workshops, but do not offer regular classes.
  • Institutions provide instruction to an average of 160 individuals per year, based on data, with a range from 8 students at the low end (a private studio) to 600 students at the high end (larger teaching studios and governmental parks-and-recreation departments).
  • 98% teach adult classes
  • 61% teach ages12-18
  • 55% teach ages 6-11
  • 29% teach ages 1-5

While classes may be the main focus of most clay centers, special events are used to expand their mission, improve visibility, attract new members, and provide variety to current members and students.


  • 97% host workshops, with an average of 5 per year.
  • 51% offer less than 5 per year.
  • 23% offer between 5 and 10 per year.
  • 3% offer more than 10 per year.


  • 77% maintain an exhibition space, with an average of 4 exhibitions per year.
  • 48% have less than 5 exhibitions per year.
  • 29% have between 6 and 10 exhibitions per year.

Conferences and Lectures

  • 44% host conferences or lectures, with an average of 3 per year.

Measuring Success

  • 53% measure success by financial return on the investment for the event.
  • 97% measure success by number of attendees at an event.
  • 38% measure success by new member registrations that result from an event.
  • 34% measure success by the amount of press exposure for the event.
  • Other metrics include feedback through questionnaires and other written evaluations, as well as anecdotal feedback and intangibles like smiles on faces.

The bulk of most clay centers’ square footage is devoted to classroom and/or studio space. And, if they are to attract long-term students and members, this is key. At the same time, space and equipment are assets many centers struggle to acquire and maintain. Much of this is due to budget and cost considerations. For instance, it is cheaper to have thirty people pay for a shared studio or classroom than to have four people rent the same space as private studios.

Studio Space

  • 46% rent shared studio space, and 30% rent private studio space.
  • The average number of people renting shared space at a ceramics facility is 18.
  • The average number of people renting private space at a ceramics facility is 8.

Studio Equipment

  • 80% have at least one pottery wheel
    41% have more than ten
  • 69% have slab rollers
  • 62% have extruders
  • 41% have at least one spray booth
  • 33% have at least one clay mixer
  • 16% have at least one pug mill
  • 5% have at least one ball mill
  • 85% have at least one electric kiln
    21% have two
    23% have three
    13% have four
    18% have five or more
    2.5% have more ten or more
  • 54% have at least one gas kiln
    44% have one
    10% have two or more
  • 23% have a wood kiln
  • 15% have a salt or soda kiln
  • 51% have at least one raku kiln
    23% have two or more

article was published in the March 2009 issue
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Like any business, quality, reliable, highly trained staff is key to implementing any plan. Many clay centers use a broad mix of paid and volunteer staff in order to pursue their missions.

  • 57% employ paid administrative staff (office/non-teaching), with an average of 2.5 full-time positions.
  • 31% employ volunteer administrative staff (some in exchange for studio space or as part of a residency requirement), with an average of 3.5 full-time positions.
  • 64.7% employ paid ceramics faculty, with an average of 2.6 full-time positions. Of those paid staff positions, 81% are temporary and 19% are permanent.
  • 43% use volunteer ceramics faculty, with an average of 3 volunteers. These are widely varied in their responsibilities and other status. Some are residents who teach, some are simply studio-sitters on a sporadic schedule and some are project-specific volunteers from student pool or cooperating/participating organizations. 93% of volunteer ceramics faculty are temporary.

It is likely that organizations struggle with all of the following challenges to some extent, but-perhaps not surprisingly-their primary difficulties are similar to those we continually hear about from individual artists.

  • 18% Lack of space (cost, no studio rental means losing advanced students)
  • 15% Marketing and promotion (cost, not enough time allocated to it)
  • 10% Location (lease uncertainty and staying ahead of developers, rural location, lack of customer traffic)
  • 10% Facility budget
  • 8% Staffing (need paid staff, access to skilled volunteers, maintaining skilled staff, attracting committed board members)
  • 8% Membership/enrollment (membership growth, keeping classes full, having to diversify offerings-like doing birthday parties-in order to meet budget)
  • 5% Work/life balance (having the studio and a day job)
  • 2% Event planning and coordination
  • 2% Attaining 501(c)3 nonprofit status

If you are involved in an organization that has community ceramic education as its mission, please add to our data.

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