Potter's guild renews sublease with art guild

Photo by Dan Balmer/Peninsula Clarion Wood and ceramic bowls donated to the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank for the Soup Supper and Auction on Aug. 23 at Kenai Central High School. Members of the Kenai Potter's Guild made 230 bowls for attendees of the fundraiser, which brings in nearly one-fifth of the food banks revenue for the year.

The Kenai Potter’s Guild has renewed a sublease with the Peninsula Art Guild that will keep the potter’s group in the Kenai Fine Arts Center through the end of September 2015.


Kenai Potter’s Guild President Laura Faeo and Peninsula Art Guild President Benjamin Jackinsky signed the agreement on July 30, two months after the art guild voted to evict the potter’s guild after questions over insurance coverage for the pottery studio surfaced. The Kenai City Council approved the sublease at its Aug. 20 meeting.

Karen Monell, treasurer for the potter’s guild, said part of the agreement hinged on obtaining a general liability policy to cover kiln operations on the premises. Monell said it was easy to find a policy and went with one from Great Divide.

Faeo said the two sides made compromises. The previous sublease was month-to-month and the potter’s guild paid $150 a month. Now the lease expires Sept. 30, 2015 with rent reduced to $125 a month, because the potter’s guild surrendered storage space to the art guild. August is the last month the potter’s guild paid $150 for rent.

“Now we have to pay for a storage unit,” Faeo said. “We didn’t get everything we wanted but now we have the time needed if we decide to move into a new space.”

Both parties have agreed to meet sometime between next May and June to discuss a potential renewal of the sublease, Faeo said. Until then the 40 to 50 members of the potter’s guild can once again use the space, as long as they follow house rules, she said.

No gas-fired kilns can be used when the gallery is open for an exhibit. The gas is required to be off six hours before, during and one hour after open hours, according to the sublease.

“I’m afraid the same situation could happen all over again,” Faeo said. “There is still a threat when the kilns can be fired.”

The potter’s guild has its own gas meter and has agreed to pay for its own gas use on the premises. The two parties have worked out a formula for sharing the electric cost.

Once the two sides came to an understanding, potter’s guild members were allowed to fire the kilns and had less than three weeks to finish ceramic bowls for the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank Soup Supper Fundraiser, held Aug. 23 at the Kenai Central High School.

“It was our No. 1 priority,” Monell said. “Because of the delay we were behind on making bowls. We gave it our best shot and did the best we could.”

The food bank had requested 400 bowls for the dinner and auction. Monell said the potter’s guild provided 230 bowls. Faeo said she made 20 bowls.

Linda Swarner, the executive director for the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank, said with help of other donations, including wood bowls from the Soldotna woodworking company, “Three Guys No Wood,” they had enough bowls to make the fundraiser a success.

Attendees to the soup dinner received an empty bowl and had 15 different soups options from a variety of area restaurants. Swarner said the event is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the food bank and brings in one-fifth of its revenue for the year. The annual operating budget for the food bank is about $540,000. The agency also receives money from donations, corporate, state and federal grants.

“The soup auction pays for gas for trucks to pick up reclaim foods,” she said. “It is a popular event with so many people from the community coming together to help us raise money to keep the lights on. You have to keep the lights on to refrigerate the coolers to protect the food we’re giving out.”

The food bank, which serves the entire Kenai Peninsula, processes one million pounds of food a year, half of which comes from local grocery stores. Swarner said 20 percent of the population receives food assistance. Last year the Fireweed Diner served approximately 20,000 meals or 1,670 meals a month.

“A lot of people are just getting by whether they are young or old,” she said. “Even two-income families with low paying jobs. If a car breaks down or medical bills pile up, we see a number of people come in during hard times. Things happen … we feed people because no one deserves to be hungry.”

Reach Dan Balmer at daniel.balmer@peninsulaclarion.com.


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