Reinvestment Fund is financing the construction of a new ceramic arts facility in the South Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia.
The Clay Studio is a 45-year old, renowned ceramic arts facility that provides residencies for ceramic artists, studio space, exhibition space, and community classes. Their competitive residency program for emerging artists is nationally known and the organization is a leader within the ceramic arts field. Classes range from one afternoon or evening to several weeks in duration, including summer camps for children.
The facility currently operates its studios, school, shop, and gallery in a smaller, older space in Philadelphia’s Old City. The Clay Studio has had strong demand for its classes in the past few years and has outgrown its space for additional classes and for kilns, equipment and shelving for student work.
Its new 34,000 square foot state-of-the-art space will increase its footprint and allow it to expand operations, as well as offer more classes and programming. The new facility site is directly across street from Crane Arts, another arts facility financed by Reinvestment Fund.
In 2019, The Clay Studio served approximately 4,600 adults and children in classes, an exponential growth from the 700 students it served in 2007. They expect to serve 5,500 students in their new facility by 2025.
The Clay Studio also offers extensive community programming through its Claymobile program, which is started in 1994. Through the program staff visit schools, community centers, afterschool programs, domestic violence shelters, senior centers, and other community spaces, and leads participants in a range of different art activities centered around clay. Claymobile is recognized as one of the most cost-effective arts education opportunities in the region, and serves as a model for similar programs offered around the country. In 2019, the visited 79 sites, including 19 in the South Kensington community. The Claymobile program partners primarily with schools and organizations that serve at least 75% of students with economic need. According to research from the National Endowment for the Arts, arts education is associated with building skills such as critical thinking, civic engagement and problem solving, which can help students succeed in school and life.
The Claymobile program served 3,800 children and adults in 2019. They have more than doubled people served in the last decade. They anticipate growing the program to serve 5,000 in the future. They also host Hands-On-Clay events at 37 festivals annually in addition to their one-day annual Clay Fest.
Reinvestment Fund partnered with Wells Fargo, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to provide financing for this $13.3 million New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) transaction. Reinvestment Fund financing also includes capital from the Nowak Creative Placemaking Fund.