Posts Tagged ‘National Endowment For The Arts’

NC Pottery Center in Seagrove, NC, Educates Area Teachers About NC Pottery History

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011



For three days in late June, 2011, a group of 25 local teachers took a break from their summer vacation to participate in a special workshop hosted by the North Carolina Pottery Center in Seagrove, North Carolina, and funded by an educational grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Goodnight Educational Fund. The purpose of this special workshop was to introduce these teachers to the history of pottery making in North Carolina, from the earliest American Indian potters to contemporary potters of today, highlighting old traditions and new traditions. The teachers were selected by random, five from each of the surrounding counties of Chatham, Lee, Moore, Montgomery and Randolph. Each teacher received a packet of publications, posters, and educational materials to share with their students next fall.

Teachers get an orientation at the NCPC on the first day of the workshop from Dr. Linda Carnes-McNaughton

Day one of the workshop featured guest lectures by Dr. Charles Zug, noted folklorist and North Carolina pottery expert who provided a history of pottery making overview, Dr. Linda Carnes-McNaughton, archaeologist and ceramic scholar who taught them how to identify different ceramics and glazes, plus demonstrations by Caroleen Sanders, Catawba Indian potter who spoke about her heritage and training, and finally Chris Espenshade, an archaeologist who demonstrated hand-building techniques for the teacher’s hands-on experience.

Catawba potter, Caroleen Sanders gives teachers an overview of  her pottery tradition.

Teachers in the NCPC Education Building learning how to make coiled pottery from Chris Espenshade.

The second and third days involved field trips to various regional pottery shops to showcase different pottery styles, kilns, glazes, and vessels. The group visited Westmoore Pottery (Mary Farrell) to learn about North Carolina’s early redware industry and use of a chamber kiln. They then moved on to Jugtown Pottery to learn about groundhog kilns, salt-glazed stonewares and the “revitalization” of the craft which took place in the 1920s from generational potters, Vernon and Pam Owens. The afternoon was filled with a visit to Ben Owen Pottery to see new art forms and changes in this family’s wares over the past three generations, plus two functioning groundhog kilns. Last on the second day was a trip to the King’s Pottery to meet Terry, Anna and Crystal King, a family of local potters known for their whimsical face jugs and sculptural figurines of animals.

Mary Farrrell of Westmoore Pottery greets the teachers in front of her shop before showing them her decorative techniques.

The third day the teachers’ group traveled to Pittsboro, NC, to meet potter Mark Hewitt and learn more about the apprenticeship system of craft-transfer, along with his own version of traditional pottery, use of a catenary arch kiln and other decorative elements revised from North Carolina’s 19th century traditions. The group concluded the field trip day with a visit to Seagrove pottery family, the McCanlesses, where Millie (Dover Pottery), Eck (Eck McCanless Pottery) and Zeke demonstrated elaborate decorative techniques on porcelain-type ceramics.

Pittsboro, NC, potter, Mark Hewitt talks about his craft and appreciation of North Carolina pottery.

At the end of the workshop, the teachers received their diplomas and stood patiently for a final group photograph.  Overall comments from teachers were very rewarding and positive, “this is the best workshop I’ve attended in my 17 years of teaching”, “loved the literature and the presentations”, “learning firsthand history from NC potters”, “now I have more knowledge to spread with kids and families in the area”,  and “NCPC + Hospitality = Wonderful!”

Group of 25 Teachers from Chatham, Lee, Moore, Montgomery, and Randolph Counties who participated in the NCPC’s 3-day Teachers Workshop on Pottery making in North Carolina.

The workshop organizers, Dr. Linda Carnes-McNaughton, Mrs. Cindy Edwards, and Mrs. Ann Busick, along with the NCPC staff, hope to do another teachers workshop in the future, offering access to potters, history overview and hands-on demonstrations to teachers from throughout the state an opportunity to transmit this learning to their students….helping to preserve and promote the significance of pottery in North Carolina’s heritage.

Upcoming Fundraiser for the NC Pottery Center

The North Carolina Pottery Center, in Seagrove, partnering with Leland Little Auction & Estate Sales, Ltd (LLAES), is pleased to announce, the12th annual Going, Going, Gone to Pots fundraising auction on Aug. 11, 2011. This auction, the Center’s main fund raising event of the year, will feature an outstanding selection of contemporary and vintage North Carolina pottery donated by top NC potters and collectors, as well as other exciting participatory and pottery related items. The lots are available for viewing now at ( and (

NC Pottery Center’s Upcoming Exhibitions

The North Carolina Pottery Center will present two new exhibits including:Wild Fire: Alamance County Stoneware – Past and Present and Remember Me as You Pass By… North Carolina Ceramic Grave Markers, both on view from Aug. 19 through Oct. 29, 2011. A reception will be held on Aug. 19, from 5:30-7:30pm.

Exhibitions are made possible through the generosity of our membership, the Mary and Elliott Wood Foundation and the Goodnight Educational Foundation. This project was supported by the NC Arts Council, a division of the NC Department of Cultural Resources, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The mission of the North Carolina Pottery Center is to promote public awareness of and appreciation for the history, heritage, and ongoing tradition of pottery making in North Carolina. The Center is located at 233 East Avenue in Seagrove. Hours of operation are Tue. – Sat., 10am – 4pm.

For more information, please call 336/873-8430 or visit (

Update on NEA Stimulus Monday for the Arts

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

We’re finding out some things about the $50 million the National Endowment for the Arts got for economic stimulus recovery for the arts. Well, the non-profit part of the arts that is. Everyone else involved in the arts will be left out in the cold. And, it’s pretty cold out there in this economy.

The trickle down effect is taking its toll on the $50 million figure. First off, $30 million was set aside for previous NEA grant recipients who received funding within the past four years. That’s 64 groups in NC and maybe a dozen in SC. The remaining $20 million was split (almost in a King Solomon manner) between 63 – state arts agencies including the District of Columbia, regional arts organizations like the Southern Arts Federation and US territories like Virgin Islands, Guan and American Samoa. The pie is bigger than most would think.

As the money trickles down from there, here is what our states received and those of states near us.

North Carolina Arts Council ($339,100), South Carolina Arts Commission ($311,500), Georgia Council for the Arts ($342,000) and Tennessee Arts Commission ($321,800).

The big states didn’t do that much better.

California Arts Council ($502,400), Texas Commission on the Arts ($427,300), and New York State Council on the Arts ($399,900).

Imagine trying to split up $400,000 in recovery money for the arts groups in New York city alone, much less the state of New York.

And, what about the smaller states?

Alaska State Council on the Arts received ($290,000).

This hardly seems fair or makes good sense. Alaska gets just $100,000 shy of what was given to New York state. I’m not sure even King Solomon would see the justice in that.

And what about those “other” groups most wouldn’t think of off the top of their heads?

The Southern Arts Federation based in Atlanta, GA, will distribute $510,500 within the nine state arts agencies they represent. They say they will contribute $51,000 to each of the nine states to distribute within the states – saving a bit of the money for themselves ($51,500). A 10% finders fee – they have to eat too.

The District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities received ($290,000), Virgin Islands Council on the Arts received ($50,000), and the Northern Marianas Commonwealth Council for Arts & Culture, Guam Council on the Arts and Humanities, and American Samoa Council on Arts, Culture & Humanities each received ($25,000).

Now, when you start to think about the hundreds and hundreds of organizations in each of these states, regions or territories – that trickle stream is going to start to look like a drip, drip, drip. That $50 million figure almost seems laughable as economic recovery.

Out of the $311,500 the SC Arts Commision is receiving from the NEA, they will keep about $50,000 (16%), but that money will be made up by the SAF money – so it’s a wash. The Arts Commission also has to eat.

How many jobs will this really protect? That’s what it’s all about, right – saving jobs in the arts?

Here’s what the NEA says this is all about.

“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provides $50 million to be distributed in direct grants to fund arts projects and activities which preserve jobs in the nonprofit arts sector threatened by declines in philanthropic and other support during the current economic downturn. Forty percent of such funds will be distributed to State arts agencies and regional arts organizations and 60 percent of the funds will be competitively awarded to nonprofit organizations that meet the eligibility criteria established for this program.”

The NEA’s $50 million was to go towards saving jobs that were being lost in the arts community.

The SAF says: “Southern Arts Federation’s distribution of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds will be through partnering with our region’s nine state arts agencies to re-grant funds to arts organizations in our states for arts jobs preservation.”

But, here is what I found on the NC Arts Council’s website which sheds a different light on what this money can be used for or what it will be used for.

Letter from E-News from NC Arts Council Mar./Apr. 2009

From Executive Director Mary B. Regan

Updated March 9, 2009

“Last week the NEA released the guidelines for the $50 million in stimulus funds they received from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The one-time grants will help preserve jobs in the nonprofit arts sector that are threatened by declines in philanthropic and other support during the economic downturn.

Thirty million of this will be awarded through direct grants to organizations that have been NEA grant recipients within the past four years.

About 45 North Carolina organizations (those that have received NEA grants within the last 4 years) are eligible to apply directly to the NEA for grants of $25,000 or $50,000. Groups can apply for salary support for critical jobs that are in jeopardy or have been eliminated as a result of the current economic climate and for fees for previously engaged artists or contractual personnel to maintain or expand their engagements. The application deadline is April 2, 2009. We strongly encourage all eligible groups to apply directly to the NEA for these funds.

The remaining $20 million of the NEA funds will be distributed to state and regional arts agencies. The N.C. Arts Council will distribute our state’s share of these funds. Nancy Trovillion is developing these guidelines and will send them out within the next six weeks. We anticipate that the deadline will be in June and we will work on a quick turnaround review process so that announcements can be made in July or early August.

The NEA is requiring that our guidelines be similar to their direct grant guidelines. Organizations that receive one of the stimulus grants directly from the NEA will not be able to receive a grant from our share of the NEA stimulus funds.

Additionally, we have studied the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Economic Stimulus Package) to find opportunities for the arts to be a part of rebuilding our economy. There are Economic Stimulus Arts Funding Opportunities outlined on our Web site with examples of how federal programs can fund the arts.

To be very clear about the language in the Stimulus Bill, there is no restriction on using the money for the arts. The Senate version did contain language prohibiting the money from going to museums, theatres, and arts centers, but this language was dropped in the final compromise bill. If you encounter any confusion on this issue, please let us know.

Hang in there. Let us know if there’s any way we can help.”

Mary B. Regan, Executive Director
North Carolina Arts Council

As the executive director of the NC Arts Council points out to the people who will be applying for this money in her last paragraph – “there is no restriction on using the money for the arts.” She underlined the words no restriction – giving these groups the green light for – whatever.

Even though every statement keeps stressing that this recovery money is for saving jobs in the arts – wink, wink – it’s really for anything and anybody we want to interpret it to be for.

And, people in government wonder why people (taxpayers) don’t trust them.

Finally, just before posting we received info from the NC Arts Council with a link to their guidelines to apply for this funding of $339,100 – minus whatever amount they are keeping in house – all Mama’s children got to eat. The guidelines are titled, Creative Workforce Grants, and they use the words job and salary a lot, but it also keeps mentioning the word “project” – maybe that’s the wink, wink part. Here’s a link to the guidelines.

This fuzzy interpretation of guidelines is something I have found to be the norm in the world of the non-profit arts. They put out statements as to what qualifications are for a program or a grant – to discourage many from applying, knowing that the savvy will call to find out from their friends at the agency – how soft those requirements are. And, when the final results are announced – many that didn’t apply, as they thought they couldn’t, find they maybe could have – since someone like them did and got it. Even though the two are equally qualified or disqualified. It’s all about inside info and playing the system.

Like the little understood fact that when it comes to federal money – all can apply. No one can be turned down from applying for something even if they don’t qualify. Then, only those who apply can be considered, whether they are qualified or not. And, things do seem to slip through the cracks at times. The trick is to get you not to apply.

Let’s hope some change will come to this system someday. Perhaps it’s time for Mary B. Regan to retire too – wink, wink.

With the full disclosure promised with these recovery funds, we hope to keep you posted as to where the money goes and what it is used for – saving jobs – I’m sure. We’ll see.

Maybe it’s time for the Art Police.

The Check is in the Mail for the SC Arts Commission

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Take back everything I have said about the SC Arts Commission being forced to live with the reality of an economy that can’t support their pet projects anymore. The check is in the mail. Just like with AIG, get ready to learn about the silly and needless ways SC’s non-profit arts community uses (possible funding) provided by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act which provides $50 million to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), to fund projects and activities that preserve nonprofit arts sector jobs threatened by the current economic downturn.

We as taxpayers will be funding the distribution of this $50 million throughout America’s art community to protect jobs – not create jobs. And most of the money is only available to those who have already received funding in the past from the NEA – a very small group of organizations in SC.

Of course all this money has to be applied for, but my past experience with how the NEA awards money and verifies how it is used gives me no confidence that this money will be used in a sound and needed way. The fact that it can only go to previous recipients means their is no plan or vision for recovery of all of the art community. It’s more a protection plan for the current and past players – whether they were good stewards of public funding to begin with.

I saw what happened with recovery money provided by the NEA after Hurricane Hugo hit SC. The City of Charleston held on to money years after the money was supposed to be used, unknown to the NEA, and in violation of several federal laws, and eventually had to give it back – instead of really giving it to artists and art organizations who could have used it – at the time of the disaster. This kind of money tends to go toward pet projects of the people holding it. In talking with officials at the NEA about this event I learned they have no enforcement division, they trust recipients to file truthful reports as to how the money was used. There is no follow-up. And, in the end, the NEA just said match the money and use if for – whatever. But, the Office of Cultural Affairs and the Mayor Riley didn’t want to make the effort to raise the matching dollars and just sent it back.

Don’t forget, this recovery money can only be used for non-profits. To hell with helping any commercial parts of the art community that have suffered or are suffering. And, to top it off, this money has to be matched with other money and where will those non-profits look for help in raising that matching money? Why of course their favorite cash cow – the commercial sector of the art community. They’ll ask artists and galleries to donate works of art for auctions, frame shops to donate services, media to provide free promotion for such events. It’s usually the first place they go to raise funds. Corporate money for the arts has dried up. Matching free money is a bitch because you have to get someone to give you an equal amount, and that takes work. These people like free money. Wouldn’t you?

Of course $50 million is such a small amount of money to people in Washington that they didn’t put a lot of thought into what they were doing. Someone probably just suggested as they were writing up the massive bill – “What about the arts?” and they just relied on old habits of throwing them a bone and leaving it up to the NEA to do the right thing.

This is not the kind of change I was hoping for, but hopefully time will still provide that change from doing the same old, same old. Of course maybe Governor Sanford will tell the SC Arts Commission to send it back. Right!

Oh, and you folks in North Carolina – don’t laugh, your state arts agency will be getting a check too. And, it also will possibly go to the same folks who have already gotten funding from the NEA.

Another Big Report on the Arts – Another Load of Baloney

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has released a report on Artists in the Work Force based on US Census data. Translation – another bunch of guesses made by computer formulas – no hard facts.

A headline in the Post & Courier newspaper in Charleston, SC, on 6/14/2008 reads – “Statistically, S.C. not too creative.” The article says that less than 1 percent of SC’s workers are artists – 19,118 in all. That figure includes designers and announcers? Not political spindoctors? They’re some of the most creative people I know.

I wonder when they say designers are they talking about the people who have their pictures included in full page ads run in the Post & Courier for Southeastern Galleries – a furniture store – that announces a new shipment of Charleston Art has just arrived – to their West Ashley store – less than 20 miles from Charleston.

This report is trying to do research without hard numbers. Numbers I don’t think anyone knows. Local art agencies in Charleston don’t know how many artists are here making a living. The state arts agency doesn’t know how many artists are here making a living. So why should we think federal census takers got it right?

Every art study ever done is written to generate more funding for arts agencies. When you take a closer look at them – they don’t make sense. I’m sure the NEA is fishing for more funding.

The Post & Courier article offers some figures reflecting Charleston’s numbers (I guess – it’s not that clear) which when looked at closely really open your eyes and sets you a thinking. Like Charleston has 1,090 designers, 495 architects, 385 fine artists, 300 musicians and singers, 175 producers and directors, 160 photographers, 90 performers, 80 announcers, 45 dancers, and 15 actors.

If you add up the musicians, singers, performers, dancers and actors, you get 450 performers – that makes 5.14 performance workers per producer and director – that’s if you figure each performance has a producer and a director. That’s a pretty high number of producers and directors per performers, and remember these people are making a living as an artist. Compared to what I know the Charleston Symphony Orchestra pays their professional musicians – I’m not sure I’d call that a living, but then we don’t know what basis the NEA is using either.

That 385 figure for fine artists in the Charleston area – I’m not sure about – it could be lower. There are a lot of artists here who couldn’t live on their sole income. Without the income of their spouse I don’t think they could make it. A lot of people in Charleston call themselves an artist, but I don’t think they are selling that much art to make a living at it.

In the article a director for the Charleston Artists Guild said their membership has soared to 725 in recent years. But, I doubt all those members make a living at art. As far as I know, I could pay dues and be a member of the CAG.

Here’s another nugget from the NEA report. It says that there are more artists in Charleston than cities like Asheville, NC, Columbia, SC, Myrtle Beach, SC, or Savannah, GA, but per capita Asheville and Wilmington, NC, are rated as two of the most creative cities – per this report. I’m not so sure about that.

I wonder if the report took into account how many artists may live in one city but sell most of their art in another city or several other cities – so where exactly, or in which city are they making a living – the city they make the art in or the city they sell the art in? Why are they ranking the cities and states at all? How many artists make a living by traveling to art and craft fairs all over the country – every weekend? Yet don’t sell much work in the city they live in?

This issue is too complicated to glean from census reports – that haven’t been too accurate as is. And, what do we really learn form this report? That the arts are a very small part of America? I think we all knew that – even in Charleston. It’s something most artists know.

So, I wonder how much money the NEA spent on this report? How much less is now available for the artists after this ground breaking report?

One day, I’d like to see a report that tells us how artist’s incomes compare with those of arts administrators. I doubt they’ll be working on that one any time soon.