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potters guild not necessary?

updated thu 8 jul 99


Ray Aldridge on wed 7 jul 99

At 04:27 PM 7/5/99 EDT, you wrote:
>A few more thoughts to add to yours:
>1 Promote the ceramic arts;
>I think NCECA does a fine job at this.


>The one issue in the list above that is NOT being covered with the general
>public very well is number one. (Interesting that it IS listed as number
>one .) To address this issue adequately requires a massive, sustained
>effort. It is an effort that is best addressed at the local level (with
>arts groups form all media united)

Who's gonna unite 'em?

.... because at the national level it
>would require the high dues and massive capital expenditures I mentioned in
>the last post.

What's the biggest cultural change in the last ten years? Answer: the
World Wide Web. One of my several jobs is to write a weekly column about
the internet for a local daily. So every week I get to think about
change-- and the accelerating pace of change. (My deadline is tomorrow
noon and, as usual, I don't have a clue what I'll write this week.)

I think it's no longer true that a massive budget is required to reach
large numbers of people. Everybody can own their own printing press, and
everyone can look as important to the world as General Motors, at what is
really trivial cost. But what is required for this to work is a degree of
commitment, and some unifying impulse. A professional association might be
the catalyst for folks who'd like to see significant change in the way the
public views the arts, and in particular, the clay arts.

>If there IS a need for this group to form....... it would be my contention
>that THIS is the sole reason for it to exist. It is a good reason, for
>sure. And that alone is enough reaaon to start it, I think.
>Unfortunately, I don't think that as a group we can generate the interest
>and particularly FINANCIAL support to make this type of a prime mission
>viable as a national association. We are not big enough and our pockets
>are not deep enough.

See above. Remember, there's no reason why such an organization can't
_start_ at a modest funding level and then grow, as it is able to provide
more services to its members. Someone here offered to send union cards to
anyone who'd send him $500. Nice try. But I'd be willing to pay $20 a
year for a quarterly newsletter and a web site with discussion boards, show
reviews, virtual venues, and so forth. (I'd even be willing to set up the
site, with help from other web-savvy potters, of whom there appear to be
many.) There are other ways to raise revenue besides dues. We can have
auctions, we can sell T-shirts, we can sell "I'm a Dinosaur" banners...
hey, we could get mugs with our logo manufactured offshore and subvert the
enemy (just kidding!) Someone (maybe you?) pointed out that there are
already a number of top-level shows available, and asked why we needed any
more. This seems obvious to me. There aren't enough slots available for
all the good potters, forcing them into attending shows that aren't as
good. There's no dearth of shows, but there is a notable scarcity of
really good ones.

>I think it is best to get involved in local groups and address this general
>public cultural arts awarness and aesthetic education issue. As to most of
>the others on the list above....... they are being done reasonably well
>already. Things could certainly be done better..... but why start over
>completely? Make NCECA better. Make the ACC better. Make CLAYART better.
> Make your local guild better. Make your state arts council better. Make
>the NEA better. Probably a better investment of time and money to build
>on the infrastructure already in place.... unless it is SO BAD that it
>NEEDS to be ditched altogether.

This isn't the best analogy, in my opinion, because physical infrastructure
must be torn down before new infrastructure can begin construction, so that
sometimes it _is_ more cost effective to upgrade the old stuff, if it
worked reasonably well in the past. A potter's professional association
would be conceptual infrastructure, and that can happily coexist with older
and/or more general forms of organization. If it proves superior, then it
gets bigger and the other stuff fades a little. But keep in mind that
these evolutionary changes don't happen until someone gets brave enough (or
foolish enough) to try something new.

You may well be right about the finite amount of energy available, however,
and the fact that a lot of it is already committed to other projects and
organizational entities. I understand, for example, that a start-up
ceramics magazine that was generally well-received just went belly-up, so
it could be that there isn't enough time, energy, and money available to
construct a unifying infrastructure for potters.

Too bad, in my opinion. Probably won't keep me from trying, however. I'm
a famous Quixote... not really happy without a suitably impractical
windmill to tilt at.

I hope no one minds me trying to keep this discussion alive until Gavin
gets back to the list. I think it's important.