Sharing Arts eyes 2021 opening for ceramics center as fundraising continues

  • Local ceramicists painted hearts on wooden pallets as part of Sharing Arts+Love, a fundraising and awareness program for the MAxT Makerspace's Sharing Arts initiative. Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/6/2021 4:50:13 PM
Modified: 1/6/2021 4:50:03 PM

Fundraising goals for the Sharing Arts Network’s Dublin ceramics center are on track for a 2021 opening after a late-2020 campaign, organizers say.

The Sharing Arts Network is a community driven effort to provide art studio resources and classes to the Monadnock region following the 2019 closure of the Sharon Arts Center. The program is managed by the MAxT Makerspace in Peterborough and partnered with Arts Alive. Earlier in 2020, organizers identified a space on Route 101 in Dublin to serve as a ceramics studio once they raised $100,000.

The “Sharing Arts+Love” fundraising and awareness campaign brought local ceramicists out to local farmer’s markets and holiday craft fairs with wooden pallets with hearts painted on them and handmade ceramic bowls over the last three months of 2020, seeking donations and greater community awareness of the campaign. People could decide how much they wanted to donate when they chose a piece. “I have to say, community members were very generous,” ceramicist Beth Corwin said.  A highlight was when an anonymous donor pledged to match any donation through the month of December up to $10,000, co-organizer Katherine Gekas said, prompting the group to devise new ways to maximize giving. Local ceramicists affiliated with the project circulated a list of necessary equipment that certain donations could buy. One of Corwin’s brothers, who “knows nothing about the ceramics and art world,” stepped up and donated enough to buy a clay extruder, Corwin said – “but his caveat was that he’d take the money back if I didn’t tell him immediately what an extruder is.” (In case you’re wondering, extruders churn up the clay and push it out in a consistent texture.)

All told, the group was able to fundraise between $5,000 and $6,000 through December, MAxT director Roy Schlieben said. “That puts us well on our way to meeting our cash goal,” he said, roughly half of the total opening costs.

There is still about $20,000 to raise in donations from local businesses in exchange for tax credits, Schlieben said, after receiving $62,500 in credits from the state’s Community Development Finance Authority earlier in the year. It’s a good deal for local businesses, Schlieben and Gekas said, but many are unfamiliar with the process – one that fundraisers are happy to explain, Gekas said.

There is still community equipment associated with the now-defunct Sharon Arts Center, which is owned by New England College. Initial talks about reclaiming the equipment seemed to be going well, Schlieben said, but communication has since dried up. “We do think that... those things do belong to the community more than they belong to the college,” he said, and were purchased for community use. A representative from New England College was not immediately available for comment.

Currently, art show collaborations with the Dublin School are on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic as the school works through its own challenges, repurposing the Putnam Gallery for additional classroom space, Schlieben said. However, Sharing Arts is scheduled to rent gallery space from the Jaffrey Civic Center for six months in 2021. The hope is the pottery studio can start getting set up this spring, Schlieben said. Program scheduling is currently underway.

Community members can also support the Sharing Arts initiatives by becoming founding members, Schlieben said. A $100 deposit now leads to a discounted membership once the space opens, as well as discounts for classes and consideration for gallery shows. About 22 founding members have signed up so far, and they’re hoping for more than 30, he said. Signup forms are on the MAxT website.

“To have making art together as this light at the end of the tunnel,” Gekas said, “is a really sweet vision.”


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