Over 650 individuals – including ceramic artists, teachers, students, donors, and community members–have signed our petition seeking to pause the possible sale of Baltimore Clayworks’ buildings, to hear the voices of Baltimore Clayworks’ stakeholders, and to allow to explore, in a reasoned fashion, all options for solving the pressing debt problems. We have identified resources that may work with the Board to pursue, negotiate, and implement alternative solutions.

This pause would avoid decisions made in panic, and afford time to revise the strategic and operating plans, and to chart a future for Baltimore Clayworks that all constituencies can enthusiastically support.

The subsequent questions must be examined in greater detail, with input from the full range of Baltimore Clayworks stakeholders, including:

  1. Is a real estate sale necessary or appropriate for future solvency?
  2. What might the “next generation” Baltimore Clayworks look like?
  3. What structural organization changes — staffing, programming, Board governance, communication vehicles — will be necessary to achieve the vision?
  4. What is a sustainable financial model for the reorganized Baltimore Clayworks?
  5. What are the best choices for location(s) of Baltimore Clayworks operations?

Answers to these questions, informed by input from the Baltimore Clayworks community, should drive decisions, and precede drastic actions that are incompletely informed and hasty reactions to financial pressures.

We feel compelled to emphasize these points because incomplete and conflicting information is circulating in and around our organization. The Board’s announcements on February 3 and February 8 that a real estate sale is being considered surprised and saddened the Baltimore Clayworks community. We had no idea that the financial situation had become so dire. In the intervening month, we have assembled quietly and endeavored to analyze the complex situation, and to identify what steps we really want to take.

Our position is not “Mount Washington or bust.” It is not that the Board members are destroying Baltimore Clayworks. It is not that the “status quo” is preferred. Our position is simple: the immediate pressure must be relieved and the Baltimore Clayworks stakeholders should be brought into the decision-making in order to move forward in harmonious pursuit of a better future.

This Community is filled with smart and creative people, dedicated to Baltimore Clayworks, and willing to help. Thank you for taking the first step along with us. We hope that the Board will want us to join us in this pursuit.

— Marsha Smelkinson, member of the Clayworks Community Campaign

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