Student Intern Position Opens Pottery Studio Doors

The Trust supports full-time position for student in expanding Fernie Arts business

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The Trust supports full-time position for student in expanding Fernie Arts business

In 2021, The Arts Station in Fernie was facing a flattering problem: everyone wanted to use their basement pottery studio. This rise in demand came from Fernie’s population increasing and more people seeking out the creative art form. From expert artists who sell their products, to beginners who are just looking to have fun and make something beautiful, The Arts Station was limited in what they could offer.

The issue with the surge in attention was this: pottery is not safe for unsupervised beginners, and The Arts Station could not afford to hire a full-time employee to support the growing community demand. The Arts Station pottery studio was restricted to members only, which were people who knew how to use the kiln, the wheel, the clay and other tools safely.

Louise Ferguson is the Executive Director of the Fernie and District Arts Council, which operates The Arts Station. Louise wanted to hire a student intern to maintain the studio equipment, teach and support beginners, and provide administrative and technical support for the pottery studio.

“In pottery you need to have technical skills. There are many things that can go wrong even if you’re very experienced,” Louise says. “In having someone here all the time in the studio we would be able to offer it up to beginners, provide more workshops and welcome kids.”

The next concern was the rate The Arts Station was able to offer; Louise was concerned it would not be a fair wage for the intern. Louise reached out to Columbia Basin Trust for assistance. The Trust supports eligible employers with hiring and training at a reduced cost to the organization. A twelve-month, full-time position was designed for a post-secondary graduate, with the ultimate goal being permanent and sustainable employment for the student after the internship ended.

The perfect candidate  

Caroline Payne was in her last semester of Selkirk College’s Ceramic Studio Certificate program when she heard about the position in Fernie. Caroline stood out to Louise among the applicants because of her passion, her unique pottery glazes, and her willingness to learn and grow with the rest of The Arts Station team.   

Caroline started her internship in August 2021. This allowed The Arts Station pottery studio to open its doors to beginners, increasing the participant traffic significantly.

“Once people who were attending my beginner classes were finished the four-week program, they had enough experience they could work independently. So, through that course that we’ve been offering every month, we’ve brought in a lot of new members,” Caroline says.

“We’ve had, in the last year, 500 people come through the pottery studio,” Louise says. “It was around 100 .”

Because of the revenue Caroline’s position generated, The Arts Station is thrilled to hire her full-time once her internship ends in August 2022.

Caroline is more than happy to stay on. Her work at The Arts Station has propelled her growth and her own personal pottery business, which she dedicates her days off to. She has been mentored by professional Fernie artists and discovered her love for helping newcomers find their own passion in pottery. 

“People become so invested in pottery and it really provides a sense of pride. It brings so much joy to their lives. It’s really important that we’re able to offer that to everybody in the community,” Caroline says.

“The benefit of having an intern come to learn is you also learn so much from them in return,” says Louise. “It wouldn’t have been possible without the funding, and therefore we wouldn’t have been able to meet the demand in the studio. It’s just going to be able to keep growing as a result.”

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