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PlacerArts new home of 'Feats of Clay' trademark

By: Carol Feineman, News Messenger Editor
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE MARCH 7, 2012- AUBURN, CA PlacerArts, the nonprofit Arts Council of Placer County, today announced it has accepted transfer of the Feats of Clay trademarks. Feats of Clay is one of the nation’s most prestigious and unique international ceramic contests. The transfer was completed March 1 at the request of the dissolving Lincoln Arts & Culture Foundation. Recognizing the fact that Feats of Clay is not only a tradition but an economic force in Lincoln, the PlacerArts Board of Trustees agreed to accept ownership of the trademarks in order to keep them viable. The Board also wanted to ensure that rights to use the trademarks were preserved and continued to be identified with the community of Lincoln. Lincoln Arts’ President June Reeves stated that “from the very beginning, we wanted Feats to be nurtured by an organization with experience in presenting arts events. As a county-wide organization, PlacerArts has that experience.” Reeves further explained that the “goal was to transfer Feats to a non-profit that could keep it alive and keep it going.” PlacerArts’ Board Chair Priscilla Richter explained “We have been involved with the Feats of Clay team for many years and we know we will have to rely on the experienced Lincoln volunteers and artists who have been the backbone of Feats all these years. The PlacerArts Board sees the way Feats of Clay is presented in the future as being no different from the past and envisions the show being presented as it always was in the same venue with the same rules for competition with regard for safety and public benefit. PlacerArts has become the successful countywide arts organization it is because it partners so well with volunteers in delivering high-quality arts programs to its publics. We owe our success to partnering with volunteers and contributors from various communities”. Both concern and interest has been expressed since Lincoln Arts’ announcement to close the doors on February 3. Now PlacerArts will serve as a bridge from what was the organizing body to what is possible. “We recognize the community movement in the wake of Lincoln Arts’ closure. We are happy to work together for the arts with emerging groups to team regional resources and experience with the passion and experience of Lincoln-local citizens, businesses and organizations.” stated PlacerArts’ executive director Angela Tahti. In order to gather additional community interests and to receive comments, PlacerArts will schedule a community forum in Lincoln. The date, time and place will be announced. Members of the all-volunteer Board of Trustees and staff will be present and the public will be encouraged to attend. Hand-delivered and e-mailed to The News Messenger on Tuesday PlacerArts new home of 'Feats of Clay trademark Lincoln residents were trying to bring back the four-week ceramic event By Carol Feineman News Messenger Editor Efforts by a grassroots group of residents led by Jean Cross who want to re-create the annual Feats of Clay hit what could be a PlacerArts roadblock. Both the grassroots group of Lincoln arts supporters and PlacerArts, the nonprofit Arts Council of Placer County, want to take over Feats of Clay. How that will happen at this point is not clear, though. The board of the nonprofit Lincoln Arts, which held the annual four-week clay celebration at Gladding, McBean for 24 years, sent out a press release Feb. 4 saying the arts organization was closing due to lack of money. Feats of Clay was Lincoln Arts’ main fundraiser and included tours of Gladding, McBean, a juried ceramics competition and ClayFest street festival. Cross’ grassroots group has been meeting since mid-February to carry on Feats of Clay and other art events. In mid-February, The News Messenger asked Angela Tahti, PlacerArts executive director, if the rumor that her organization wanted to take over Lincoln Arts was true. Tahti said “no” and refused to comment. On Tuesday, however, Tahti e-mailed and also hand-delivered a press release to The News Messenger (see page A14). The press release said that PlacerArts “accepted transfer of the Feats of Clay trademarks” from Lincoln Arts. When The News Messenger asked Tahti if she told the grassroots group of PlacerArts’ intention, she said, “Read the press release.” Included in the six-paragraph release was “Now PlacerArts will serve as a bridge from what was the organizing body to what is possible…We are happy to work together for the arts with emerging groups to team regional resources and experience with the passion and experience of Lincoln-local citizens, businesses and organizations.” But Cross, who is leading the grassroots group, had not seen the press release. The News Messenger e-mailed Cross the PlacerArts’ press release Tuesday night. “I am glad to hear that Placer Arts is taking over responsibility for Lincoln Arts. I wish them the best of luck,” Cross e-mailed back The News Messenger. “I am working with a group of wonderful of (sic) artists and concerned citizens of Lincoln to create a new art organization that will celebrate the rich artistic heritage that has been a part of Lincoln for over 125 years. We have some new and exciting ideas for the future.” But last Friday, Cross sent out an e-mail to “Undisclosed-recipients” that said, in part, “Paul Apfel began our formal organization process today. He hand-delivered our formal request to reserve a corporate name to the California Secretary of State’s office in Sacramento … We have stepped up things a notch because we can’t approach GMcB (Gladding, McBean) until we have a name and the beginnings of an organization in place. And we want to do this before another group tries to take over GMcB tours/art show. The great news is that we are adding supporters every day. One of the greatest things that we all can do is to get the news out there and recruit artists and anyone who appreciates art to join forces with us. Please share my statement letter with anyone who would like to see it ... Events meeting at Buonarroti’s Wine Bar (in the back) at 7 on Tuesday, March 6. If you know anyone who would like to join the group, please bring them . Some of us are eating at 6 again and all are welcome to join us.” When The News Messenger asked Cross if she wanted to change her comment on PlacerArts in light of the e-mail she sent Friday, Cross e-mailed, “In discussing the situation with the group tonight we decided to be as positive as possible. We never really intended to take over Lincoln Arts but wanted to start something fresh. Feats of Clay has been a Lincoln Arts event. We would like to do something with Gladding McBean but can’t begin talks with them until we are a non profit organization and the decision will be with them as to our association will be. Also, once we are a non profit organization, Placer Arts may in the future transfer it back to our local Lincoln art association.” Apfel, though, had a different take on PlacerArts’ announcement. “I think it’s unfortunate that the opportunity was not extended to residents of Lincoln and the new art organization,” said Paul Apfel, one of the grassroots group’s leaders. “At the present time, we’re not yet incorporated. We are taking steps to move in that direction and have filed the preliminary paperwork with the state of California.” It’s “premature to speculate on how the grassroots group can work with PlacerArts,” according to Apfel. The News Messenger asked Tahti what happens if the grassroots group wants to take over Feats of Clay and what happens if this group doesn’t want PlacerArts’ involvement in Feats of Clay. “PlacerArts chair Priscilla Richter and I were among the 32 people who gathered at Bonaratti’s on Feb. 21 for brainstorming session in the wake of the Lincoln Arts’ announcement,” Tahti said Wednesday. “Subsequently, we’ve accepted the responsibility outlined in the release and a Lincoln-local group has emerged and is in formation. This is all very positive. It is essential to meet directly with representatives of the emerging group, to understand mutual interests and work strength to strength. It is too early to answer the questions below. We are trying to get to the table as early as today, if possible, to begin the conversation.” The News Messenger asked Lincoln Mayor Spencer Short for his comment about PlacerArts’ announcement. “I have no comment at the moment,” Short said.