The Artshack Clay Cab


The Artshack Clay Cab: A Snapshot

What is it?

The Artshack Clay Cab is a mobile ceramics studio in a cargo van. The Clay Cab holds everything you need to create handbuilt ceramics.

Who is it for?

The Artshack Clay Cab is for everyone–students, seniors, people living in shelters, detained youth, community centers, and more. Like a New York City taxi, we go wherever we’re called!

Why does it matter?

Access to quality arts education shouldn’t depend on income, location, or ability.–and yet, it often does. The Artshack Clay Cab will expand our mission to bring the healing powers of clay to all of our community members–even if they can’t come to us.

How will it work?

With our community’s financial support, we will be able to purchase the initial equipment, including the Cab itself, and pilot the program with our existing community and school partners. We plan to expand our services and provide subsidized and no-cost programming through fundraising and grants. School partnership will connect clay to curriculum. School and community partners need only provide a space, a sink, an adult from their organization, and their creativity!

The Artshack Clay Cab: Our Vision

The Artshack Clay Cab, our newest outreach program, will bring a pop-up clay studio to schools and community organizations throughout Brooklyn, furthering our mission to make ceramic arts accessible to our community regardless of experience, skills, and socio-economic status.

We believe that clay heals. Clay’s innately forgiving quality–simply roll it up and start again–makes it easy to move on from mistakes, building confidence and perseverance. We view art as a tool for social change, empowering participants by fostering creativity, self-respect, leadership, and collaboration. More and more, studies show that art education improves student outcomes including creativity, social-emotional learning, and critical thinking. There is even evidence that art education positively impacts school attendance, graduation rates, and college enrollment for at-risk youth. These findings are leading government officials to take a stand for arts education.

In New York City, 2019 hails an exciting time to work in art education. Thanks to Mayor Bill de Blasio, the NYC Department of Education received $23 million to address arts program needs. Even with this boost of funding, we have a long way to go towards addressing inequity. In New York City, less than half of all elementary schools employ a full-time art teacher; for middle and high schools, that number rises to only 66%. The remaining gap between students and art education is bridged by community organizations, with 100% of schools working with at least one such organization. Yet the budget for cultural organizations’ services remains only a small percentage of the overall arts education budget.  And when it comes to a lack of art education, schools in low-income neighborhoods are disproportionately affected.

Once the Clay Cab hits the road, the cost to Title 1 schools will be subsidized by grants and Artshack’s own continued fundraising. At this time, we are raising funds to purchase the initial equipment needed to make this possible, including: a cargo van, wheeled carts for transporting supplies from the van into schools and community centers, storage shelving, and tools for participants. With this equipment, we will begin piloting the program at schools with whom we have existing relationships.

Over many years of teaching art, one sentence comes up again and again: “I didn’t know they could do that!” A class of kindergarteners, spell-bound before a painting. A child known for acting out in class, focusing diligently on his sculpture. A child who struggles to read and write telling her story through drawing. All people deserve the chance to surprise themselves, their peers, their families, and their teacher by showing another side of them.

With the Artshack Clay Cab, that opportunity is on its way.

The Artshack Clay Cab: Key Talking Points

  • NYC schools rely on partnerships with cultural organizations to provide art education to their students. Increased funding should increase the demand for such services

  • For schools, continuing a partnership with a cultural organization depends partly on the affordability of services

  • A lack of arts instruction disproportionately affects low-income neighborhoods

  • The Clay Cab will join organizations throughout the nation in providing mobile ceramics education, including The Clay Studio in Philadelphia, whose Claymobile has operated for over 20 years