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nceca conference (long)

updated fri 14 apr 00


Wendy Rosen on thu 13 apr 00

To Clayarters and the NCECA board,
I'm sorry if I hurt some NCECA board members feelings... I certainly
didn't intend to make this a =22personal attack=22. My frustrations
with the conference are derived from my own experiences as
well as dozens of comments I get each year as an exhibitor.
(Several from former board members)

People often tell me that the exhibits and demos are the
best parts of NCECA and that many (not all of course) of
the presentations/panels are a disappointment.

Specifically, this year I attended the =22Creating Value=22
panel discussion. After 45 minutes of posturing the
only tangible advice was.... Good work and Good Slides can
turn you into a Lucero or Voulkos... (It takes a bit more)

Last year I attended the =22Making a Living=22 panel discussion.
Only one artist of the four actually MADE their living
from their art work. One taught, one was a landlord
for a studio building (with a trust fund), and one other
lived off of his spouse (attorney). The last, openly admitted
that his annual income was less than =2415,000 and that
was his BEST year to date after 15 years of struggle....
I watched painfully as more than 70 students got up
and left the room in disgust. This doesn't help us
KEEP clay artists or NCECA members.

The year before I attended another =22business=22 panel
this one hosted by gallery directors (Garth Clark for one)...
Title =22How to get your work into top galleries=22...
Two hours of =22Let Me Tell You About My Credentials=22
ended with this simple advice =22Don't call us... we'll call you=21=22

There are WAYS to develop conference content so
that the organization is ASSURED quality, pre-planning
and a creative format. Here are just a few suggestions...

1) Let members RATE panels and speakers.
(Don't invite poor presenters for an encore)

2) Find a way to utilize your best speakers over and over again.
(Small room presentations given repeatedly
can offer a more intimate program experience.

3) Ask for presenters to prepare hand-outs offering tangible advice,
resources and action/results oriented materials.
(The teapot panel could have distributed a list of annual
teapot events/shows and sponsors, suggested reading etc..)

4) Reach out to a broader audience.
Studio artists find tools, equipment and new techniques at
NCECA.. the don't learn new tips about how to keep their
studio's alive from a business standpoint. A special resource
room for this purpose with =22events=22 or tables would not
cost NCECA anything.

5) Offer students a broader option.
For twenty years I've traveled the country to speak with
students about =22The Business of Art=22 or =22Studio Start-UP 101=22
I always start off with the question =22How many of you want to
teach? How many of you want to open a studio? ... In just the
past four years the later has begun to out number the former.
This is partly due to a strong economy, and also to reduced
teaching slots. Students are desperate to know HOW to
start a studio or buy an established studio... they don't know
all their options.

6) Turn clay centers into active participants with their own parallel =
Find a way to get =22clay centers=22 talking to each other and
bringing their members to NCECA. This could
be very large source for new membership.

Each year my =22Marketing Your Work=22 breakfast grows... This year
more than 120 attended (at a =245 fee. Previous years were free).
There is a growing need for TANGIBLE information about where
the market is moving and where new opportunities are coming from...
for example: Congress has allocated more than =24150 million dollars
for after school educational activities in every city in this nation...
my home town and suburbs will receive more than 2 million.
We have to fight and negotiate our way to get funds for CLAY
education as part of the programing... NCECA should be on top of this
and providing schools, universities and community clay centers as
well as studio artists with ideas that they can take to their local
governments... this could DOUBLE the number of working
clay artists in this nation in just two years=21

NCECA is growing... but in this economy it could be EXPLODING =21=21=21=21
Increased confernce attendance isn't enough...
getting every clay graduate a JOB or income from their
work is the job at hand... I don't see us working for
THAT goal. I'm just another member... but I'm one willing to
help make NCECA grow with my mouth and my financial support.

My commitment started ten years ago... and appreciate the
opportunity to discuss this issue openly in the clayart discussion
group. My personal goal is that every student should be
able to go to their parents and justify their education and
career choice because there IS a THRIVING and GROWING
palate of career opportunities offering good salaries.
--NCECA doesn't have a future without this goal.

To the board- You have my support and I'll see you in Charlotte...
and I'm ready to roll up my sleeves to work even harder=21

Sorry for any misspellings... I didn't attend graduate school... Yet=21
(Spelling is what I hire editors to do... but I'll let them continue working
on the next issue of AmericanStyle magazine today=21)

=3EDear Clayart,
=3EI recieved this letter via snail mail from Steve Reynolds the Present
=3EPresident of NCECA asking that I post it to Clayart. (Optical Character
=3ERecognition is really cool.)
=3EI did not forward Wendy's letter to anyone on the board, although others
=3Eof course are free to do so and apparently did. Before board meetings I
=3Emake a summary of comments, suggestions, observations etc. and forward
=3Ethem after deleting names. I try to do a good job of editing and
=3Esummarizing including all opinions even those I disagree with. I also
=3Esugeest that people write the board directly.
=3EI delete names as I believe that it fosters more comments and
=3Ediscussion. But, Clayart is like a public forum with a big audience.
=3EPlease Reply to Steve, His email address is: .
=3ETo: Wendy Rosen From: Steve Reynolds, NCECA President Subject: Remarks
=3Econcerning the Denver Conference
=3EDear Wendy,
=3EI recently received a copy of your remarks that you sent out to CLAYART
=3Eregarding your perceptions of this year's conference and I find some of
=3Eyour thoughts disturbing. You stated that people are expecting more and
=3Eare getting less in the arena of programming. Since we actually had more
=3Ephysical space at this conference site, we actually added more panels
=3Eand lectures than we have had in a number of years and if you would
=3Echeck we even had to start earlier and end later than in the past to get
=3Eall of this in.
=3EWhen you state that...=22the panel discussions are very weak in =
=3EI believe you owe it to your audience to state which panels and what
=3Eparticipants you found lacking. Otherwise, it casts a very suspect
=3Eshadow over your judgement. Healthy criticism is based on specificity
=3Enot nebulous generalities. Again, you state that ....=22every panel
=3Ediscussion I've ever attended was organized over a three martini =
=3EVery clever, but you again do not state if you even went to a panel this
=3Eyear and if you did, which one. You continue with your notion that the
=3Esingle lectures seem to be academic diserations (I'm guessing you meant
=3Edissertations) more suited for medical school than the arts. Which
=3Electures? What participants? These generic aspersions that you cast are,
=3Ein my estimation, very damaging to your credibility as a person who has
=3Ea leadership role in the field of American ceramics.
=3EThere is also a delicious irony in your comments regarding the
=3Econference that has become too large for ONE room meetings and we need
=3Esmaller break out rooms with lots of really great topics. You complete
=3Ethis particular thought with the rejoiner that it was good to see you
=3Eall in the ClayArt room but that we NEED a BIGGER ROOM.
=3ELastly, you make a point that NCECA has the opportunity to grow if they
=3E(NCECA) will embrace the studio artists and the collectors. I have
=3Econtinued to hear this dirge repeated over the internet and I am
=3Ewondering if people really go to the trouble to look at our programming
=3Eand our outstanding studio artists that we have as demonstrators year in
=3Eand year out. It also may be interesting to note that all of the members
=3Eof the NCECA board have fairly high profiles as exhibiting artists as
=3Ewell as substantial academic lives, and all have made a considerable
=3Ecommitment to '=60building values and growing members=22. With the 3584
=3Eregistrations at the Denver conference, it was the largest one yet. I
=3Ethink we are doing a good job growing the membership and building value.
=3EOf course, none of it is possible without the direct input of the
=3Emember's finest thoughts and deepest feelings. This is still a member-
=3Edriven organization.
=3EI very much look forward to your continued thoughts and support for
=3ENCECA and the field of American ceramics. Have a productive summer and
=3Ewe will see you in Charlotte.

Wendy Rosen
The Rosen Group

3000 Chestnut Ave =23304
Baltimore, Maryland 21211
410.889-3093 410.243.7089 fax

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