Watershed Center receives $3 million endowmen

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Watershed Center receives $3 million endowmen
Artist at work in Watershed's studio.

EDGECOMB, ME.- The Windgate Charitable Foundation has awarded Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts with a $3 million endowment to support the organization’s programs and operations.

Watershed serves artists working in clay via residencies, workshops, kiln firing facilities, and exhibition opportunities. The new endowment will provide a sustainable stream of income for years to come while enabling the nonprofit to expand and diversify its programs.

The award caps a year of growth and change at Watershed. When the early days of the pandemic necessitated a break in residential programming, the Center’s leadership saw an opportunity to expedite long-standing plans to construct a new studio that could function year-round. Windgate had already provided a lead gift for this capital project, and the beloved but dilapidated barn studio came down last fall. Contractors put the finishing touches on a dazzling new 7,500 square foot workspace this spring and Watershed welcomed the inaugural cohort of artists to the climate controlled building in June. As the Center fine-tunes an extended program calendar supported by the new facility, the Windgate Foundation’s new programming and operations endowment bookends their earlier support for capital improvements.

“We are beyond grateful for Windgate’s generosity,” shared Watershed Executive Director Fran Rudoff. “The award is a tremendous vote of confidence in our organization’s mission and programs.”

For more than three decades, Watershed’s residencies have offered an unstructured interlude for ceramists in need of time and space to focus on their work. During a typical residency season, groups of fifteen artists at a time gather for two to four weeks sessions from late May through September. They form creative communities, make tremendous strides in their practices, and develop bonds that last long after their retreat.

In addition to residencies, Watershed hosts popular professional development programs for Maine K-12 ceramics teachers, along with workshops for budding ceramists looking for top-notch instruction. Regional artists travel from as far as New York City to fire the Center’s extensive array of wood and gas kilns, and hundreds of ceramics enthusiasts from across the country descend on campus each summer for Salad Days–an annual celebration of local food and ceramics.

While the Windgate Foundation and Watershed have a long-standing relationship, this gift is the largest that the Center has ever received. The Arkansas-based Foundation provides funding to institutions across the country that support visual arts and contemporary craft.

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