SCHENECTADY – As it approaches its five-year anniversary, C.R.E.A.T.E. Community Studios is celebrating its past and looking ahead, expanding not only its physical space but also its artistic offerings.
The non-profit has studios in Schenectady and Saratoga and runs art workshops and programs for kids and adults that promote personal growth and use art as a way to foster connections in the community.
On any given week, the studios hosts clay classes, expressive arts, open studio sessions and a host of workshops. Within the last few years, though, there’s been a growing interest in clay classes.
“As we were in the midst of COVID, one of the most popular classes that we were getting requests for when we reopened was clay,” said Heather Hutchison, the executive director of C.R.E.A.T.E.
The State Street studio already offered handbuilding clay classes but couldn’t host more ceramics classes, in part because there wasn’t enough space for a kiln, pottery wheels, etc. Hutchison also noticed that there wasn’t a public ceramics studio in Schenectady.
“There’s not any publicly available ceramics classes, clay classes of any sort in Schenectady County,” Hutchison said. “Folks who wanted ceramics classes were going over to Troy or Watervliet. So we knew that there’s definitely a need for it on this side of the river.”
In the coming months, C.R.E.A.T.E.’s Schenectady studio will move to a much larger space at 140 Erie Blvd., which will eventually also house a ceramics studio.
The additional space will allow for more programming and community-focused projects. C.R.E.A.T.E. has been involved with many community art projects over the years, including Schenectady + Me, which has kids and adults design tiles that reflected their favorite aspects of the Electric City. A number of the tiles are featured on a bench outside of Schenectady City Hall.
The project has continued over the last year or so and hundreds more tiles have been made at Kids Arts Fest and other community events. They will eventually adorn the inside of the 1907 ALCO Tunnel that’s reopening as part of a Downtown Revitalization Initiative.
“I think that has really expanded people’s hunger for the clay arts,” Hutchison said.
Tonight, C.R.E.A.T.E. will mark its anniversary with a celebration at The Stockade Inn and kick off a $100,000 capital campaign to support the move and the addition of the ceramics studio. They’ll also celebrate a partnership with Urban Initiatives Group, which owns 140 Erie Blvd., as well as The Stockade Inn.
“We are excited about this private-nonprofit partnership and how it will allow us to expand our services not just in Schenectady but the entire Capital Region community,” Hutchison said.
“C.R.E.A.T.E. Community Studios is a dynamic arts organization that works with more than 20 agencies from throughout the Capital Region to better people’s lives through the creation and experience of art. Their work is vital to the community and that is why we are honored to support this event,” said John Samatulski, President of Urban Initiatives Group.
The celebration runs from 5-7 p.m. and will feature live music, food and art for sale. Tickets are $50. For more information visit createcommunitystudios.org.