ART@HAND, an initiative of the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis, is a series of accessible programs designed to promote enjoyment of the ceramic arts. Intended for individuals age 55 or older and their families, ART@HAND incorporates lectures and tours, workshops, and hands-on activities. Supported by the Wallace Excellence Award and the Minnesota State Arts Board’s Arts Learning program, this initiative aims to increase access to the ceramic arts for older adults. The program includes participants of all abilities, from those who have never worked with clay to those who have done so for many years. Many events are free and open to the public, while others charge a low fee. There are also intergenerational programs that parents, grandparents, and children can attend together.
The Northern Clay Center's mission is the advancement of the ceramic arts. Ongoing programs include exhibitions by contemporary regional, national, and international ceramic artists as well as historical and architectural ceramics; classes and workshops for children and adults at all skill levels; studio space and grants for artists; and a sales gallery representing many top ceramic artists from the region and elsewhere.
Opened in 1990, the Northern Clay Center is an established, regionally based national ceramic arts organization. Special programs such as the Regis Masters Series use lectures, symposia, and publications to reach a national and international audience as well as a direct audience of regional participants. Other programs, such as the American Pottery Festival and McKnight Residency grants, bring national artists to the region to continually feed the lively exchange of ideas and aesthetics.
Northern Clay Center programs are evaluated once at the end of the programming and, if they are multi-week, on an ongoing basis. Evaluations serve as a tool for future planning. Programs are evaluated through the use of interviews, individual assessments, attendance numbers, and focus groups.
- It is crucial to get commitment and buy-in from gatekeepers at partner organizations. Treat partners/gatekeepers as co-producers of the program, so that they will build audiences and ensure that your onsite needs are met.
- Volunteers are a very important part of the equation, but they are of most benefit when they have been trained and oriented.
- Traditional promotion and marketing is not always effective for serving this demographic.
- Each partnership should be treated as a unique entity.
- Plan for continuity and sustainability for each partnership—from one-time events to long-term programming.