The society, a not-for-profit community organisation, was established in Canberra in 1975. Its objectives are to promote excellence and innovation in ceramics, foster appreciation of handcrafted ceramics in the broader community and encourage the professional development of its members. The Society is an ACT Government Key Arts Organisation. As such it receives some funding from the ACT Government and manages Watson Arts Centre, an ACT Government arts facility, located in Aspinall Street, Watson, only 5kms from the Canberra CBD.
The premises include a large teaching workshop, smaller teaching workshop, members-only workshop, spacious gallery, retail shop for the work of a selected group of members, library, administration areas, kiln room, glazing room and clay storage. There are four studios for rent to ceramic artists plus a further studio and accommodation for an artist-in-residence program.
Membership of the society is open to anyone with an interest in pottery. Benefits include a monthly e-newsletter, use of wheels and equipment at drop-in sessions and in the members-only workshop, a firing service, kiln hire, discounts on classes and discounts at some pottery supply retail outlets. There is also an extensive library for the use of members.
CPS membership encompasses a wide range of abilities, ages and interests with members ranging from raw beginners to full-time professional potters.
Workshops conducted by professional potters are held throughout the year, as are regular members’ events. An extensive program of day and evening classes is run for adults, and after-school, Saturday and school holiday classes for children. Special interest classes, e.g. glazes, kiln firing, sculpture, are also offered.
The society is managed by a volunteer Board, a Director, two Workshop Managers, two Enrolments Officers, and the Gallery and Visitor Services Manager. A strong team of experienced teachers are supported in the workshop by learning support assistants, particularly in the children’s holiday program. Other society activities, such as editing the monthly newsletter, organising members’ events and workshops, are often handled by volunteers from the membership.
A selected exhibition of members’ work is held annually.