Northern Clay Center

Mission Statement

Northern Clay Center’s mission is the advancement of the ceramic arts. Its goals are to promote excellence in the work of clay artists, to provide educational opportunities for artists and the community, and to encourage the public’s appreciation and understanding of the ceramic arts. Ongoing programs include exhibitions; classes and workshops for children and adults at all ages and levels of proficiency; studio facilities and grants for individual artists; and a sales gallery representing many of the top ceramic artists in the region and country.

Impact and Programs

Accomplishments Northern Clay Center’s impact during the 2016 calendar year included: • Through our exhibitions program, we produced 12 shows that demonstrated the range of expressions in clay, created by accomplished, emerging, and established ceramic artists. Work by 69 artists was included in the exhibitions; 23 of these artists were from Minnesota. We produced an exhibition of emerging technologies in ceramics, partnering with Tethon 3D to demonstrate 3D printing to our audience, thus drawing a wider net of interest. We also partnered with, an online community of ceramic artists, to produce an exhibition in the Emily Galusha Gallery that highlighted the changing nature of curation in the digital age. • Our ClayToGo program reached 11,196 youth, families, and school children in 2015, up 33% from 2015, which had been our record year. The ART@HAND program served adults 55+ in a variety of settings (at NCC, in nursing homes and care centers, at independent living centers, etc.) In 2016, we conducted 140 partnerships, reaching 3099 individuals (up from 2015 by 28%). • In 2016, NCC developed a series of multi-day workshops, designed specifically for K-12 art educators, which took place in venues across the state, serving 135 art educators. We worked with 14 Minnesota ceramic artists, five Minnesota organizations, and one school. The first four workshops occurred between February and June, through which we partnered with regional organizations and ceramic artists in Greater Minnesota. Host sites and NCC staff and artists presented 2–6 days of historical and contemporary lectures, demonstrations of clay techniques, and platforms for K-12 art educators to revitalize their classrooms, engage in critical dialogue, discuss new lesson plans, create peer networks, and critique work. • Earned income was up for a second year in a row, with over $1,139,000 in income from classes, workshops, gallery and exhibition sales, APF, and studio license fees, which is an 11% increase over 2015. Education income was at a record high with over $446,500 (due to a huge increase in demand for adult classes and fees associated with our MN NICE program), a 20% increase over 2015. Total ceramic sales were over $352,000, a 4.6% decrease over 2015, but strong considering the end of the year sales slump that many retail outlets and arts organizations experienced. • Some 302 individual artists were served and celebrated by the Clay Center in 2016, up 8% from 2015’s 280. The Center paid over $567,000 to ceramic artists in 2016 (an increase of 10% over 2015), through teaching fees, commissions, and grants, bringing our total payout since 1995 (1st year of tracking) to over $8,127,648. • 2016 continued NCC’s strategic objective of bettering our facility at 2424 Franklin Avenue East as we made modest upgrades to various plumbing, electrical, and HVAC equipment throughout the building. Additionally, we made mindful improvements to our clay mixing ventilation system, rebuilt the door on a gas kiln, and built various storage cabinets for students and studio artists. We raised over $40K from institutional and individual donors towards the purchase of a new ClayToGo van for NCC’s outreach programs, as well as traveling exhibitions.
Current Goals key organizational goals in 2016 & 2017 • NCC will expand resources for art educators in an effort to reinvigorate the studio practice of art educators and inspire new level of dedication to their creative practice and role as educators. We’ll conduct greater MN workshops for educators, as well as several “booster” sessions for educators at NCC. • We’ll use our exhibitions program as a catalyst for new conversations about the medium as we engage with new audiences and we’ll explore contemporary makers of vessels, sculpture, installation, and other ceramic art created with new technologies. • We will continue to diversify the audience with which we work through the launch of year one of our Jerome Ceramic Artists Multi-cultural Residency award. Additionally, we’ll work to increase applicant numbers for all of our artist grants programs, luring ceramic artists to Minnesota to further enrich the fabric of our artistic ecosystem. • Through gallery representation, teaching positions, and grants, NCC will provide support and professional development for clay artists across the country, paying out an estimated $450K+ to artists annually. • We'll complete a modest remodel of our interior space that will lead to the creation of an outreach prep zone for our teaching artists and to support specialty education classes; additionally, this will enable a remodel of our kitchen/breakroom which is critical to our myriad special events.
Community or Constituency Served The Clay Center addresses the needs of its three major constituents in the following ways: 1. Ceramic artists – through exhibition, sales, and employment opportunities, affordable studio space, access to special equipment, continued training, and grants. 2. Schools and colleges – through regular clay classes, special guest artist workshops, training for teachers, field trips, and artist residencies in area schools and community organizations. 3. General public – through exhibitions of work by regional, national, and international artists, publications, classes, Internet facility, and other special outreach programs geared towards site-specific populations, including seniors.
Geographic Area Served Northern Clay Center has become an established part of the local arts community, one that serves a particular marketplace, and one that has garnered national recognition for the quality and scope of its programs. Through special projects such as the Regis Masters Series, various lectures and symposia, and publications, we reach a national and international audience as well as an audience of participants within the Twin Cities. Other programs, such as the American Pottery Festival and McKnight Residency grants, bring national ceramic artists to the region, which continues to feed the exchange of ideas and aesthetics in and outside the walls of the Center. Education programs serve not only adult learners (through on and off-site classes), but also specialized and under-served groups including handicapped children, teen mothers, veterans, home-schoolers, and students with legal, emotional, and other problems. The Clay Center is the only comprehensive ceramic arts organization in the region and is now one of the largest, if not the largest, ceramic arts organization in the country.

Reports & Finances

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Notes from the Council

Organization Last Reviewed on 10/26/2017

This date is representative of when we completed our initial Accountability Wizard® nonprofit review, and provided the organization with their results. This review is good for three years from the date provided
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2424 Franklin Avenue East
Minneapolis, MN 55406
Phone: (612) 339-8007

General Information

Alternative Name: NA
EIN: 41-1616650
Principal Staff: Sarah Millfelt
Number of Full-Time Equivalents (FTE): 13.31
Number of Volunteers: 150
Number of Clients: 55,000
Ruling Year: 1993


Board Chair: Craig Bishop
Number of Board Members: 20
Board Meetings with Quorum: 12
Average Member Attendance: 13.4

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1915 Highway 36 W Ste 133 • Roseville, Minnesota 55113-2709
Phone: (651) 224–7030 • E-mail:

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