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Community Studio - Classes Vs Membership Structures/business Models


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#1 EvHawaii

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Posted 17 April 2017 - 09:34 PM

We have a new small pottery studio that is part of a nonprofit art center. We are researching ways to enhance our classes model to some kind of membership or "regulars" model so we can accommodate both new students or students who only want a class or 2, as well as enthusiasts and retirees who want to work in the studio with as much as possible. Currently, we charge a set fee for clay and firing that is calculated per pound, so a membership fee (just like a class fee) would be separate. Though many (most?) of the potters here may be self-employed and/or professional potters, we thought you might have some experience and/or good ideas about how to structure membership, payment, etc. for a community studio. We've looked at pottery clubs, at adult education, and at open studio models but wanted to get more information.  Thanks for any ideas you can share!  



#2 MatthewV

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Posted 18 April 2017 - 02:04 AM

Sure... I own, operate and teach at a private but community focused pottery studio. The single most important thing in my mind is requiring all members to take a class at your center. Even experienced people. All (two) thorns in my side came from people who didn't take one of my classes.

After that, pricing and costs need to be what works for your center and hopefully a little extra for down the road.

 

It is a complex especially if there isn't a director single person in charge. Or if there are multiple instructors. I've also worked and taught at a non-profit community studio in Wellington -- many many good sides and some real pains too.


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#3 GEP

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Posted 18 April 2017 - 09:37 AM

I've never been in charge of a community studio, but I've been both a student and a teacher in them. The one thing I would advise is that professional potters should not be using a shared studio. They really need to buy/maintain/manage their own equipment. Professionals often need to fire large volumes of work on a deadline. That's really tough to do with shared equipment. Or, if you allow professionals to use the studio, make sure they understand how much they are consuming in terms of resources, compared to a recreational potter, and that they are paying for it.
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#4 Chilly

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Posted 18 April 2017 - 09:51 AM

There is a new group studio operating in the East end of London, the name of which escapes me, but if you can find their website, there is a stack of rules, policies and prices on there.


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#5 yappystudent

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Posted 18 April 2017 - 05:48 PM

As someone who's lived for years around "community" fire arts centers where the minimum fee was grossly more than I could afford, I'd often wished there was a cheaper option that would have let me come in and use the wheels/kilns even briefly, in a limited way, for a reasonable charge. I don't know if that's a good business model but it would be pretty great.

Where I live now the resources are fairly awful other than the local community college. But then as now, I'm better off saving my meager pennies for my own kiln and wheel than paying a fee.


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#6 JBaymore

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 09:51 AM

Contact Lynn Gervins at Mudflat in Boston.  One of the best community type ceramics centers in the country.

 

http://mudflat.org/

 

best,

 

...................john


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#7 neilestrick

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 12:26 PM

Lots of good points already made. Like Matthew,  I require everyone to enroll in at least one 8 week session before they can have a key to the studio. That way they can learn how the studio operates, because every studio functions a bit differently. I also agree with not letting a production potter or full time potter use the studio. They'll just eat up all the kiln time and shelf space. If they want to be 'professional', then they need to go all the way and get their own studio. My key holders each get two shelves to keep their in-process work on (rather than the usual one shelf that my students get), and if they're consistently making more work than they can fit on those two shelves then we need to have a talk. It's never been a problem, though. People understand that this place is meant for hobbyists, not full time artists. My key holders pay the same for clay as my students, which includes firing costs. They also help take care of the studio, like throwing a load of towels in the wash or cleaning the bathroom. They also act as monitors and run the studio if they're here while I'm out on kiln repairs.

 

You need to have a good set of rules, on paper, that the key holders read and sign. It should include methods of dealing with infractions, 3 strike rule or whatever, etc, otherwise it can be difficult to kick someone out without opening yourself up to legal issues. It should also include pricing, schedules, etc. My people rent by the month, but you may want to lock them in for longer if you think they'll go for it. I charge about 15% less per month for key holders than I do for students, simply because I don't have to do anything with the key holders.

 

I am not a fan of members or key holders having any sort of governing power. I know of a couple of studios/co-ops where each member essentially becomes a member of the board, and that just complicates things and makes it increasingly difficult to get anything done or make changes to the system. By all means take suggestions from everyone, but have as few people in charge as possible. I also see studios where there are too many levels of management for the size of the studio. Again, it just complicates things.

 

Over all, it's a great way to get more people into the studio without you having to work more, and it's appealing to folks who don't have time to attend a weekly scheduled class.


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#8 rakukuku

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 01:46 PM

I belong to such a studio and it works well. WE have monthly membership of $115 per month for access with four cubic feet per month of firing, glazes mixed and provided and several part time techs to mix glazes and fire the kilns. Most people are not professional potters but some, like me, hang out there a few hours most days. We also offer classes for kids and adults. I think $190 for 10 weeks. We offer recycled clay but there is a nearby ceramics supply store where most people get their clay. Only cone 10 clay allowed. If people want underglazes or other stuff, they buy their own. Most have their own tools. We have a paid director who sets up classes, does finances and generally keep the place running. We built our own high fire gas kilns.  After 15 years the place is quite popular and being too crowded is sometimes a problem.

 

The organization is set up as a private business but we operate like a non profit in that the owners take no money out and put it all back into equipment and such.  You can look at our web site  fireartscenter.com i think.    GL   rakuku



#9 JBaymore

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 03:32 PM

 

 

The organization is set up as a private business but we operate like a non profit in that the owners take no money out and put it all back into equipment and such.

 

Wow.  They pay all taxes on the operation and have the potential liability?  I assume they they must try to run at a zero net basis.  But that would get flagged by the IRS I would think.  Is it set up as a LLC? 

 

best,

 

...............john


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Adjunct Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

Former Guest Professor, Wuxi Institute of Arts and Science, Yixing, China

Former President and Past President; Potters Council
 

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http://www.nhia.edu/...ty/john-baymore


#10 Tim Allen

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 06:28 PM

John, It is apparently organized as a corporation: http://www.fireartsa...m/about-us.html






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