The East Lansing Ceramic Arts Program needs a new home, and it's looking to the public for help. The program, which began in the mid ‘90s, was formerly located at the Bailey Community Center. When the city closed the center in September, many programs that were hosted there had to find new homes.
“We were left homeless,” said Deborah Davis, member of the ceramics program. “There aren’t a lot of places that you can do this (type of pottery) in Lansing, and not a lot of places that are affordable. There are programs at the colleges that aren’t open to community members, and REACH (Studio Art Center) is almost all for kids.”
The city offered space for the ceramics program in Hannah Community Center but did not offer enough money to fully renovate it. Expensive improvements to plumbing and flooring are needed to make the new space a functioning ceramics studio. So the program is turning to the public to help.
Davis organized a crowdfunding campaign on Generocity.com, a philanthropyfocused offshoot of popular crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. The purpose of the campaign is twofold: raise funds for the renovations and raise public support for the displaced program.
“The idea was to show the city that people really do love this program and it should continue,” Davis said. She hopes the campaign will “demonstrate that there are people who still care whether this program continues.”
Approximately $20,000 is needed to complete the renovations necessary for the new ceramics studio, which will include six pottery wheels, a kiln and other work spaces. The campaign is seeking to raise $2,500 through the campaign, which will be matched by a grant from the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs. The City of East Lansing will also contribute to the renovation fund.
This is a flexible funding campaign, meaning the organizers will receive all money raised, even if the goal is not met. Unlike an Indiegogo campaign, this Generosity.com campaign does not offer rewards for donations. The ceramics program, however, is planning to create a donor plaque to recognize the people who give to the campaign.
The studio at Bailey Community Center was open to all ages, and its regulars included retirees, students and other residents. For Davis, the social aspect was just as important as the artistic aspect. The closing of Bailey also took away that social group.
“It broke up a really nice community we had,” Davis said.
While Davis is excited to put the city's throwing wheels, kiln, and other equipment back into service, she is nervous about starting over.
“We are very excited,” Davis said. “This would be a better equipped studio, and it will be open to more people because of the location, but we are worried about the money.”