Nonprofit Spotlight: Creative Clay, assisting artists with developmental disabilities since 1995

Inside Creative Clay

Creative Clay has been a part of St. Petersburg’s DNA since 1995. The nonprofit provides professional training for artists with developmental disabilities, and hosts myriad classes to broaden each artists’ creative horizons. Creative Clay’s mission is, at the end of the day, what the Sunshine City is all about.

That’s right, Creative Clay isn’t simply a school where students preside under teachers and work through stagnant syllabi. This nonprofit provides studio space and expert instruction for local artists to hone their craft and prepare it for both exhibitions and sale.

Selection of art

13th Creative Clay Fest happening in November

Before we go on, we want to remind the community that Creative Clay will host its annual Festival on Saturday, November 9 from 11am-8pm.

The festival was created 13 years ago to draw the St. Pete community to Creative Clay and to raise funds to support this community-minded arts center for people with disabilities. The event features live music, tons of incredible art for sale, and a food court sponsored by Black Crow Coffee, Pipo’s, and Callaloo. It all takes place right across from Creative Clay’s main hub at 1846 1st Avenue South.

Art in the main Good Folk Gallery

Training to become professional artists

On any given day full-time and contracted artist coaches cover painting, sculpting, music, poetry, and visual art. It is a wonderful amalgam of imagination, and it’s all happening in the heart of the Grand Central District.

The core of Creative Clay is its Community Arts Program, which serves adults with developmental, emotional, and/or physical disabilities.

This arts program provides professional artist mentorship for enrolled member artists in the performing and visual arts in a highly engaged studio environment. Visual artwork created may be selected to be exhibited in Creative Clay’s on site Good Folk Gallery. When artwork is sold, member artists earn a 50% commission.

Sculptures in the main gallery at Creative Clay

Introducing ArtLink Apprenticeships

Another prestigious and invigorating program is Creative Clay’s Artlink Apprenticeship. It places promising student artists with professionals in the St. Pete community. Artlink participants meet with their professional artist supervisors a minimum of four hours per week for four to six months, according to Creative Clay’s website. It’s a total arts immersion experience, and one that sets up all participants for future success.

At the end of apprenticeship, a selection of the works created during the training program will be included in an art exhibition held at a public museum, gallery, or other cultural venue.

Art books in a thrift shop

Creative Thrift at Creative Clay 

Creative Clay is also home to a pay-what-you-can thrift shop. The new art supply repurpose was created after a feasibility study and business plan by the Tampa Connection Class of 2017.

The goal of the store is to create a social entrepreneurial revenue stream, to become an on the job training site for people with disabilities, and to give an extra purpose to the many donations of supplies Creative Clay lovingly receives from the Tampa Bay community.

Studio art on display at Creative Clay

Volunteer opportunities at the nonprofit

You can learn more about Creative Clay by visiting the nonprofit’s website. Want to get involved? Creative Clay is always accepting donations, and there is opportunity to join the Good Folk Society. Your contributions help organizers and community artists continue to put on these vital programs.

There are so many volunteer opportunities, too. You can assist with events, serve as an assistant during one of Creative Clay’s classes, sort donations at Creative Thrift, and assist during Creative Clay’s events. All injuries can be addressed on Creative Clay’s website.

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Written by Andrew Harlan

Andrew Harlan

Andrew Harlan is the Editor of ilovetheburg.com. Follow him on Twitter @harlanyoungII and Instagram @harlanyoung. Send tips and potential stories to info@ilovetheburg.com.