Pottery studio helps create an inclusive New West

PotteryWorks Studios has moved into its new studios just in time for Community Living Month.

Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation Michelle Stilwell recently visited PotteryWorks to meet some of the artist and view the art on display in the new space on 612 Victoria St. in downtown New Westminster.  Community Living Month celebrates the achievements of people with developmental disability as fully participating members of society and celebrates the organizations and businesses, like PotteryWorks Studio, that make a difference in the lives of people living with developmental disabilities.

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“I am so impressed by the many talents of these local artists,” Stilwell said in a press release. “There are many wonderful one-of-a-kind pieces for exhibit and purchase.”

Deidre Blackmore, art facilitator at PotteryWorks, said it means a lot for the artist to be able to show people their skills and have people purchase their work. She said it gives them a boost of confidence and self-esteem, which is what many artists need to grow.

“Over the last 16 years that I have been operating the PotteryWorks Studio, I have witnessed the impact of art and craft on the many artists who have come through our doors,” she said. “They have learned discipline and focus, to believe in themselves and their abilities, and to work with others.”

PotteryWorks, which was formerly located in River Market, is supported by the Community Living Society, a Community Living B.C.-funded service provider in New West that works to connect people with developmental disabilities with the services and supports they need to live full, happy and empowered lives.

“Our artists have made real and lasting relationships within their community working in our store and studio,” Blackmore said in a press release. “It’s the most profound kind of inclusion, to become part of the everyday fabric of your community.”

New Westminster MLA Judy Darcy, as well as representatives from Community Living Society, the city, the school board and the arts community, attended the grand reopening celebration at PotteryWorks on Oct. 20.

In related news, city council declared October as Community Inclusion Month in New Westminster at its Oct. 10 meeting.

Faith Bodnar, executive director of Inclusion B.C., congratulated New Westminster for being “the most advanced” city in B.C. by being the first community in the province to proclaim October as Community Inclusion Month. Inclusion B.C. is a non-profit federation that works to build community and to enhance the lives of people with developmental disabilities and their families by supporting abilities, promoting action and advancing rights, responsibilities and social justice.

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