Creative Industry Finance
Lee Steele runs a community ceramics studio in York, he took part in the Creative Industry Finance programme and shares his experience of taking part in business support.
I started my business – The Potter Man – in 2009, having worked as an Arts activity leader in medium secure hospitals for several years. I offer hand building and historical pottery workshops to a wide range of groups and organisations, and produce replica Early Medieval historical pottery for museums and re-enactors. I also design and produce individual studio ceramic pieces. I am an arts practitioner and run regular workshop sessions for Hull Arts and after school sessions.
With the opening of my new community ceramics studio in York I hope to give more people the opportunity to explore the medium of clay. As so many schools and colleges no longer have pottery facilities, less and less people can experience this art form. I will have glazing and firing facilities on site so people can take part in the whole process. This will be a real community-based enterprise, somewhere that fits around busy lives, with a safe creative atmosphere for developing skills and ideas.
I applied to the Creative Industry Finance programme because I wanted to work with an organisation that understood the needs of artists as well as providing financial support, expertise and encouragement. The application process made me look in detail at my proposal and gave me confidence in my business idea and its viability. The credibility provided by being on the programme will allow me to approach other organisations with a degree of confidence. The loan finance provided has helped me secure the premises when banks are increasingly reluctant to support small businesses.
I started with 3 bags of clay and an idea. As I am dyslexic, the opportunity to express myself in a non-written form is crucial for my personal well-being. The process of creating a piece of art takes me to a different place, away from modern life and its turmoil, where things are where they are because I have created them.
Finding premises was a very big challenge, but through perseverance and hard work I am now in a position to expand the business. In five years’ time I hope to have a thriving community-based ceramics workshop’ and possibly have taken on an apprentice.