AOA Startup Grant 2018

The Albany Barn

Albany Barn 2.jpg Who:
The Albany Barn

The Albany Barn: a creative arts incubator and community center in Albany.

A short bio:
Albany Barn is a private non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to developing a permanent, sustainable 21st Century creative arts incubator and community art center in Albany, NY - a place for artists, neighborhood residents and the public alike to create, collaborate, present and explore, particularly those who cannot afford or otherwise access such space and services. Albany Barn evolved from Rock2Rebuildâ„¢, a grassroots production group founded in 2005 to create events benefiting important causes while raising the profile of local creative talent. R2R staged several major multimedia concerts featuring regional artists and raised tens of thousands of dollars for goodwill agencies including Habitat For Humanity and Save The Children.  Albany Barn has continued R2R's work as part of its broader mission, pioneering local music and arts showcases and programming.  Albany Barn's board of directors consists of a diverse group of professionals from different, but complimentary fields.

A description of your proposed project:
Five years ago, stakeholders in the imperiled Arbor Hill neighborhood developed a revitalization strategy called the "Arbor Hill Neighborhood Plan." It was heralded as a breakthrough in collaborative community planning and continues to enjoy broad support during its implementation. As part of that Plan, it was recommended that one of the top priorities be the adaptive reuse of the abandoned St. Joseph's Academy building, located in the heart of the neighborhood at the corner of North Swan and Second Streets.
Albany Barn has partnered with the City of Albany and Albany Housing Authority to redevelop the 40,000 square foot St. Joseph's Academy building into low-cost live-work apartments, work and rehearsal suites, a dance studio, a digital media lab and significant exhibition, performance and programming space. The project is formally called "Academy Lofts," although it is better known locally as "The Barn." This name originates from the age-old practice of barn raising, when a community collaborated to build a barn - a structure vital to a family's livelihood - for one of its households.
The Barn/Academy Lofts will provide essential, affordable facilities to regional artists, musicians, writers, filmmakers and performers seeking an engaging, supportive environment in which to create and share their work, and broad arts-based programming to benefit residents of all ages. To that end, a key requirement of residency in The Barn/Academy Lofts will be community service including, but not limited to, mentoring, creative art instruction/activities, and neighborhood art installations/public space stewardship.
Informed by the success of transformative art incubators in other American cities like Providence, RI and New York, NY, The Barn/Academy Lofts is the kind of dynamic reuse that will at once address all the Arbor Hill Neighborhood Plan's components: Housing, Arts and Culture, Economic Development and Quality of Life. It will anchor the North Swan Street corridor with a built-in creative economy; expand the footprint of arts in Albany; nurture meaningful, productive relationships between artists, arts groups, local businesses and neighborhood residents, particularly at-risk City youth; catalyze responsible revitalization and preserve neighborhood identity; and foster community involvement, unity and pride.

What's next:
This is important. The funding isn't for finishing a project -- it's for helping it move on to something bigger or better.

Working with our partners, significant funding for the renovation of the St. Joseph's building envelope and construction of live-work residences has been secured; we currently anticipate breaking ground on the renovation in late 2011.  However, this funding does not include the interior fit-up of the commercial/community space; i.e. equipping and installing the rehearsal suites (mixing boards, instruments, recording gear, etc), digital media lab (computer work stations, large-form printers, etc), dance studio, theater space (lighting, sound system, etc), and more. To raise the necessary capital for the construction of these facilities and develop an operating reserve, Albany Barn will conduct a capital campaign. Albany Barn will utilize the Sunmark Startup Grant to support the launch of this capital campaign, which will include launch event(s), designing and producing print collateral and possible consultation with a fundraising professional.

Albany Barn 2.jpg

Albany Barn 1.jpg


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