Carbondale Clay Center is seeking out financial help |

Carbondale Clay Center is seeking out financial help

File photo by John Stroud

CARBONDALE, Colorado ” The Carbondale Clay Center is banking on its annual spring fundraiser next week to help make up an $80,000 funding shortfall that threatens to close the doors of the 12-year-old ceramic arts center.

“Things are pretty serious,” Clay Center Director Lauren Kearns said. “We’re down about half what we normally have in the way of grants and donations.”

Kearns recently sent out a public statement saying that the Clay Center is in danger of closing due to a decline in donations and foundation grants.

“As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, we rely on donations from foundations, businesses and individuals to keep our doors open,” she said. “Several major foundations that normally fund the CCC could not give this year, at all.”

Founded in 1997, the Clay Center offers classes to the community and provides rental space to the public for working with clay. Through its residency program, the center also provides young artists an opportunity to live, study and create their art.

A major fundraiser for the Clay Center for several years has been the annual Cajun Clay Night, held in May as a sort of kickoff to Carbondale’s outdoor event season.

This year, Kearns and the Clay Center board decided to change the theme of the event, and will host La Dolce Vita, starting at 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 30. That evening, the grounds at 135 Main St. will be converted into an outdoor Italian bistro, with dinner catered by Jimmy Nadell of Bravo Catering. There will also be music and a street dance with Acoustic Mayhem, kids activities, and a silent auction.

“I was at [local restaurant] Six89 one night, and was inspired by the way people were talking across tables and just having a lot of fun,” Kearns said. “I thought, wouldn’t it be fun to do something like they do in Italy, where you have long tables of people eating together and visiting.”

Adult ticket purchasers will receive a commemorative handmade ceramic mug, designed just for the La Dolce Vita event. Tickets are $50 in advance, and $60 day of for adults, with juniors between the ages 7-15 paying $15 and $25. Children 6 and under are free.

Kearns said sponsorship for this event is also down by about 80 percent.

“A sell-out of the event would of course go a long way,” she said. “Even if you can’t come, any donation at this time would help out quite a bit.”

She said last year’s Cajun Clay event was down about half what it normally brought in, but the spring fundraiser had previously raised about $24,000.

“We really need to get back to a position of bringing that much or more in with this event,” Kearns said.

Overall, the Clay Center needs to pull in about $80,000 in the coming months in order to keep its doors open, she said.

“I think it’s sometimes difficult for people to relate to us and what we do,” Kearns said. “It’s not just about ceramics. It’s about what’s vital for this time and having a place for children, and for people to build relationships and make friends.”

For ticket reservations and more information about La Dolce Vita and the Carbondale Clay Center, call 963-2529.

Contact John Stroud: 384-9160

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