As The Yards prepares for it’s 8th anniversary, I am both excited and overwhelmed reflecting on all the growth in the past year. (Also if you know me, you know I don’t like the term anniversary, I much prefer Birthdays)!
I am lucky enough to have witnessed and contributed to The Yards for the past 7 years. I started at the space in 2011 as a doey eyed intern eager to make my career in the arts.
Founders Sarah C. Rutherford and Lea Rizzo were wonderful mentors, along with Heather McKay who was renting an area in the “BackYards” space. I met numerous strong women making space for themselves and others, this demonstration of support and community are what tied me to the space. I finally felt I found somewhere belonged, where I could grow, and be with my people.
Often those early days seem like a million miles away and it’s hard to keep track of what year we did what event. Sometimes it’s wild to think how I got to be where I am now and that somehow with the help of many, MANY, people we are inches away from making this space truly sustainable.
Part of the budget we are raising money for are items that would make the space operate more efficiently. New hardware for installing gallery exhibits, a projector with wifi connection, along with updated tools in our wood-shop that are safer and easier to use. With 20 members in our studio space we go through a large amount of consumables. Rotating shows every couple weeks means we go through a lot of paint and a lot of labor.
From a business perspective the simple option would be to raise rental rates. But I know if we did this we would lose the demographic I feel most compelled to work with, support, and represent. Emerging artists have very few spaces to show their work, try out new ideas, or get experience installing an exhibit. This is especially true in Rochester where I feel the majority of representation in established venues is dependant on the ability of the work to sell. The Yards was once that accessible space for me, I want to continue that legacy and keep our space as economically feasible for emerging artists as possible.
Another big chunk of what we are raising funds for is to continue our low cost programming. We have a number of folks that volunteer their time to strengthen the space, which we are grateful for but want to start compensating these class facilitators for the work they put in.
We are also in the progress of developing a Teen Ambassador program that will give teens a peek into the art world and how community spaces function. We hope to share tools to build self confidence, engage with arts consumers, and leave us with basic sales and community engagement experience.
Some funds we are earmarking for three sponsored exhibits focusing on new media, installation, and performance works. We want to also offer two scholarships to our Collaborative Residency Program that will enter its 7th year of operation this January.
Music, food, art, collaboration, installations, and discussions. The essence of what we do has been distilled in a colorful and multifaceted 24-hour event. What we have put together for you this year are all the things I consider to make The Yards great.
We hope this weekend you will help us as we look ahead to the future and Celebr8 the past!