To Be Clear

BY STUDIO POTTER
Mar 2, 2021

We are grateful for the opportunity to engage with our community, to answer questions, and receive feedback from the people we are most directly accountable to: you. We are entering into this conversation with an open heart, receptive to and appreciative of the critiques and challenges ahead of us. 

While Studio Potter may hold a large microphone in our field, we operate with very limited staff of one part-time and one full-time employee. We have not always been able to respond to the demands of the moment with the speed and nuance that is needed, and understand how that may be perceived as silence.

To be as transparent as possible about our publication, we are making our full archive of articles available to anyone reading this, from March 2nd, 2021 until March 10th, 2021. Log in with the username: March and the password: 2021 for access. [Editor's Note: This offer has now passed.]

To be clear: we are committed to challenging all forms of oppression internally and externally, and have zero tolerance for abusive and oppressive behavior in our organization and our community.

Here are some of the specific actions we have taken in the last 24 months to eliminate deeply entrenched power imbalances in our organization; this snapshot of the current moment points towards the organization that we are becoming.   

Mission/Vision/Values:

In July of 2020 we began the process of updating our mission statement, vision and core values, and are evaluating our priorities as a nonprofit organization. We look forward to putting our intentions onto paper as a part of our written mission statement and strategic plan. We will publicly post our new mission, vision, and values statements in the coming year.

Our Board:

In December 2018, we eliminated the mandatory fiscal donation requirement for our Board of Directors from our by-laws and moved to a “donate what you can afford, even if it’s $0” model. This financial obligation for our Board was a serious roadblock that kept the board’s makeup from being truly representative of the community we serve. This decision has had a significant and positive impact on who is able to guide Studio Potter as a leader at the highest level.

This choice has dramatically reduced our annual income. Before the change, our board was responsible for 10% of our total annual budget. In our last fiscal year, the board provided about 3.5% in voluntary donations. It’s a serious budget cut that we’ve gladly adjusted for by cutting expenses in other areas. Removing the financial barrier aligns with our values and allows us to accurately represent our members and contributors. In the 24 months since this change, we successfully recruited nearly a dozen new board and advisory council members of a diverse range of ages and backgrounds. Our work is not done, and we are actively increasing the diversity of our board of directors, staff, advisors, and contractors. 

Our Journal:

We actively prioritize publishing the work of women, people of color, and LBGTQ+ people. We are rigorous in our efforts to shift the profound imbalance in opportunities that plagues our field, and celebrate the opportunity to publish challenging, creative, and innovative work. We periodically offer free memberships for students and teachers, and regularly post free content and articles to our website, and are days away from launching a free membership application for educators who do not have the budget to purchase a membership for their classroom.

Memberships and individual donations make up more than 60% of our budget and we rely on them to pay for our operations. As a non-profit journal, we publish important and challenging articles even if it’s in detriment to a larger membership and increased income. 

Grants for Apprenticeship Program:

We acknowledge and are heartbroken by the deeply painful experience of one of our recent grant recipients. We are aware and regret that our muted public response has been experienced as silence and complicity. We are limited in what we can share on social media. Questions or concerns about how we addressed this are welcomed, please reach out to our Executive Director, Jessica Detweiler, by email at director@studiopotter.org or to arrange a phone call via DM. 

This incident has sparked a top-to-bottom assessment of our grant process, our screening of applicants, and the support we offer grant recipients if conflict arises, including a process for conflict resolution and accountability. We are in the midst of a full program review and will provide full details of the assessment when it is complete this spring. We are committed to supporting apprenticeship opportunities that are based on equity, respect, and transparency, and welcome your guidance and feedback on our programs. 

In our Grants for Apprenticeships program, we have the opportunity to support the development of a young artist and a mentor. This year, at least two of our five GAP awards went to teams with BIPOC apprentices (some applicants choose not to disclose their race). Three of five grants went to teams of all women. 

In our last grant cycle we revised our application process so that an educated or experienced grant writer didn’t hold an advantage. We offered in-depth application reviews before the deadline, and provided detailed feedback to everyone who asked for it before they submitted their application. We also offered long follow-up conversations for everyone who did not get the grant this year, going through their images and statements, explaining where there is room for improvement, what a jury is looking for, and gave advice about writing for our grant and writing for any grant. The pre- and post- reviews were an investment of time and energy to provide equal opportunity to all applicants. We endeavor to make our GAP program a learning experience for everyone, improving education around grant applications, and being transparent about why someone was or wasn’t selected. 

Sincerely,

Studio Potter

 

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