The Manchester Ceramics Collective is a Company Limited by Guarantee consisting of 5 co-Founders and 6 other members. The Organisation provides a fully functioning specialist studio for local Ceramic businesses, serving an ever-increasing pipeline of demand for their handmade products, and providing art activities for the local community.
Old Trafford resident and keen ceramicist Becky Morris first met with Jonathan in October 2018. She had a vision to take on the lease of a former nursery, and along with some peers, convert it into their very own creative and collectively-organised production space. The space would serve two purposes: to provide locally-resident ceramicists with an affordable base from which to make a decent living doing the work that they loved; and to create a focal point for the community to come together.
We offered the assistance of a Capacity Builder to support the set up and development of the Organisation. Over the last 2 years Jonathan has supported them with governance structure guidance, sustainability of the collective and articulating their social purpose.
The Manchester Ceramics Collective, now legally incorporated and ready to take on the world, was beginning to grow their customer base. They had identified the need for a brand-new functional website and a second-hand industrial-grade kiln in order to reach more people and generate greater social impact, which led them to apply to our Fund.
In 2019, their application for £2,000 towards their £10,000 set up costs was successful, and promised an impressive social return in line with our anti-poverty priorities.
In the year following their set up, 11 businesses began working from the premises generating income; 40 individuals took part in ceramic based activities in the first year learning new skills; local people now have access to affordable high-quality hand made ceramics and 100 local people befitted from a community open day.
Partnerships have been built with other Old Trafford community assets, with an initiative working alongside Seymour Park Primary School, OT Creative Space and St Johns Centre seeing nearly 200 ‘pot-make-and-paint’ kits being distributed to local residents, families and key worker/vulnerable children to help them cope during lockdown.
This impact led to a second small grant award in April 2020 for £6,923 towards the costs of transforming the outside space in partnership with Clean-start into a practical and airy corridor, where the creatively-curious young and old of Old Trafford will come together to enjoy art-focused activities.
It has certainly been quite a journey for Collective founder Becky since the days when she began to dream of making a living from her passion. Looking back on that journey, and on the experience of working with THT Social Investment, Becky says: "Being able to open the Manchester Ceramics Collective Studio has completely changed my life. I now make my ceramics full-time, and I’m able to fit my work around the needs of my three children. Without the studio space this really wouldn’t be possible."