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The challenge of Feats of Clay

By: Carol Feineman, News Messenger editor
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Claudia Renati has to raise an additional $30,000 by May 1 so the 22nd annual Feats of Clay extravaganza can run as smoothly as ever.

That means asking for money in these hard economic times when everyone I know is trying to reduce expenses.

But Renati, the Lincoln Arts and Culture Foundation executive director, is not daunted by this challenge.  

The nonprofit foundation has raised $20,000 in Feats of Clay sponsorships since January. These sponsorships are through area businesses and individuals.

The Lincoln Arts executive director of nine years remains confident that businesses and residents will step forward once again to give anywhere between $100 to $10,000 per sponsorship.

These sponsorships will help guarantee that the annual month-long ceramic festivities continue to highlight both Lincoln and the Gladding, McBean Factory around the world.

Feats of Clay, running from April 25 to May 31, is a collection of fun and inspiring clay activities. These activities include tours of the 132-year-old Gladding, McBean plant, ClayFest street fair, Teams of Clay contest for local businesses and of course the juried fine art exhibition.

Besides attracting the attention of approximately 11,000 artists who enter the juried show from throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada, according to Renati, up to 60,000 visitors come from all over the country to participate in Feats of Clay events.

While here, Renati added, those visitors simultaneously patronize our city’s restaurants, stores, gas stations and hotel, adding about $100,000 to the city’s coffers.

With today’s economy so dismal, that figure is especially good news.

And supporting Feats of Clay, by visiting the events and/or through sponsorship, also enriches your life by exposing you to art.

And, as Renati pointed out, it’s easy to get hooked on the arts, just by hanging around Feats of Clay events.

“I didn’t know anything about the arts when I was offered the job here nine years ago. But I was tired of the corporate world, I had worked in Sam’s Club management, and I wanted to do something I felt good about,” Renati reminisced.

It was easy for Renati to “become enlightened” by looking at the Lincoln Arts gallery artwork and the juried ceramic pieces in her first “Feats of Clay” competition.

Now she is quite comfortable, encouraging residents to step into Lincoln’s art world. That’s by businesses and individuals becoming Feats of Clay sponsors by donating a total of $30,000 within the next few months and also by residents taking advantage of the local Feats of Clay activities.

“It is the only event and program in Lincoln and Placer County of this magnitude,” Renati said. “Everyone should be proud of Feats of Clay and donate to or sponsor to this spectacular one-of-a-kind art program. Keep the arts alive.”

New this year are tours of the fitting shed and the glaze library, never before open to the public, according to Renati.

“Locals who have attended the tours before need to come back to see ‘Tour B.’ It’ll answer the question of where the clay goes,” Renati said.

All Feats of Clay proceeds go to Lincoln’s art and cultural events, including regular Lincoln Arts gallery exhibits, park concerts, arts in education programs, art classes, annual art auction and, of course, the one-month-long Feats of Clay activities.

To donate or for more information, call Renati at 645-9713, e-mail her at info@lincolnarts.org or check out www.lincolnarts.org on the Web.

Carol Feineman can be reached at 774-7972 or at carolf@goldcountrymedia.com.