“Someone to look at us with a fine-tooth comb...”

Chris Taylor
Chris Taylor

The Clay Studio was founded in 1974 by five artists in need of workspace. It rapidly grew into an internationally renowned center for the ceramic arts, bringing the medium of clay to broad audiences.

Today, from its offices and studios in Philadelphia’s Old City, The Clay Studio operates six separate business enterprises, each of which has its own accounting necessities. The consignment shop features local, national and internationally known artists selling hand-made art. A professional gallery features rotating exhibitions of artists working in clay. The Associate’s Program rents studio space to members of the community who come to clay as amateurs, hobbyists, and artists of varied professional levels. A school program brings ceramic arts education opportunities ranging from beginning hand-building to advanced wheel throwing. The Resident Artist program hosts 12 artists of the highest caliber to immerse themselves in their creative growth and professional development. And the Claymobile features two vans that being mobile clay arts classes to schools, seniors’ centers, and community-based and social services organizations.

Your Part-Time Controller was brought in to help The Clay Studio during a critical time of leadership transition. The previous director had been involved with the organization for 17 years, 10 of which were as its leader, and, as new President Chris Taylor says, “She knew where to find every nickel. The board realized that a lot of institutional memory was about to be lost, and a lot of financial knowledge might go out the door.”

With the assistance of YPTC consultants and the previous President, a punch list of some 25 fiscal items was created. Items on the list were started with the outgoing President, and smoothly passed over during the transition. Within the first two months, YPTC appointed their Associate Elizabeth Melervey, CPA to assist. Taylor said, “I knew that I had inherited a very healthy organization, but there were a lot of little details that needed my attention. This was primarily due to transition, but other structural changes were needed with other leadership styles.”

Issues with QuickBooks, payroll, the budgeting process, depreciation, rental incomes, and allocation of expenses across departments were addressed. “We got someone to look at us with a fine-tooth comb,” he says. “Elizabeth stepped in and gave structure to our team dealing with finances. She created nice systems and reporting procedures. She became like one of our family.”

After a few initially intense weeks at the start of the engagement, the need for her services slowed down to where she now needs to come in less frequently. “We miss not having her around as often,” says Taylor.

YPTC’s involvement was more a case of what Taylor calls “polishing and refining. Thanks to strong leadership of my predecessor and the board, Elizabeth didn’t have to come in and do damage control. Your Part-Time Controller helped with our transition and helped me, as a new person coming in, to understand what was going on.”


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