If you are a member of the NCECA Facebook Group, you may have already seen my intermittent reporting on the NCECA survey results as they have been coming in. (If you haven’t already taken the survey, by the way, you can take it here.) One of the big pieces of demographic information I’ve been watching is the question that relates to academic affiliation.
Most people know that NCECA was formed by a group of academics, ceramics professors with a desire to meet and discuss issues related to clay, ceramics & education. In the initial years, word spread and more ceramics professors joined the organization and started to attend the annual meeting. Soon they started bringing some of their students with them, and NCECA began to grow exponentially. Eventually, equipment manufacturers, publishers, & suppliers began to attend the conference in order to promote their products & services and to connect with the universities using them, and what we now call the resource hall was born.
After students graduated from universities they often set up their own studios and made a life for themselves as a full-time studio artist. Though they may have left the structure of academica behind, they maintained the love of academic enrichment that the NCECA conference offered, and they continued to attend. Perhaps they might even bring a few friends, and before long, the conference is enriched by another group of minds, the studio potters. NCECA has continued to grow and evolve and to embrace members from all sectors of our field, museum staff, leisure potters, collectors, arts center directors, K-12 Art Teachers. Even our board is changing to reflect the diversity of our organization. Our current president is retired from many years of running a non-profit arts organization. As I count on my fingers, I think about half of our board is affiliated with an academic institution, and the other half is connected to clay in some other way, which is remarkably accurate and a great segue-way into looking at the breakdown of our membership…
Although the survey will be open for just about one more week from now, I don’t expect the breakdown to change much from how it looks now:
Despite this shift, I still hear many non-academic members remarking that the conference seems to lack content for studio potters/part time potters. (To be fair, I also hear academics complaining that there aren’t enough lectures relevant to higher learning.) What you all may or may not know is that for the last 4 years, NCECA has been reviewing survey results at our spring board meeting, shortly before talking about programming decisions for the next conference. The survey results definitely inform our decisions. We do attempt to offer a wide variety of sessions so that there is something that will appeal to all NCECA members. The process room, which premiered only 3 years ago, is a great example of NCECA’s efforts to expand its offerings and evolve with its membership.
However, the programming we review and select comes directly from membership submissions. So what that means is that if YOU (yes you, the person reading this blog post right now) don’t think there is enough programming related to studio pottery practices, or academia, or collecting, or teaching or art history or whatever rocks your personal ceramics world, then perhaps you should put together a proposal for something that WILL meet that need.
In the next week or so, our new programs director, Mary Cloonan, will be sharing some important information regarding the program proposal submission process. Be sure to keep an eye out for that, and start thinking about what you want to see at the conference, then make it happen! The NCECA board and staff are here to help you, so please please ask if you have questions. You can email any of us that you already know, or if you don’t know any of us personally, leave a comment down below and it will get answered, or you are always welcome to email firstname.lastname@example.org!
I hope to be reading LOTS of proposals for this year’s conference from all of you out there reading this blog. And also stay tuned to this column. I’ll be reporting survey results here after I have compiled and analyzed all the data, and I’ll probably be answering some more