The Regional Alliance for a Creative Economy (RACE) first met in 2013 to engage stakeholders in strengthening the creative and cultural assets of the greater Capital Region, with the goal of driving economic growth that benefits all residents.
Now at the start of our third full year, RACE has accomplished a number of exciting projects, and has created many initiatives to help and promote creative individuals, groups and institutions. Here are some highlights of what we accomplished in 2015:
- Grant Win for Breathing Lights: In June 2015, Bloomberg Philanthropies awarded a major grant to Breathing Lights, a temporary public art project in the cities of Albany, Schenectady and Troy. In October and November 2016, Breathing Lights will illuminate the street-facing windows of hundreds of abandoned buildings in Albany, Schenectady and Troy. Concentrated in high vacancy, economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, these installations will transform vacant structures from pockets of shadows into places of vitality and warmth. Breathing Lights will also offer an extensive Neighborhood Engagement and Content Creation program, including abandoned building clinics, public arts presentations, youth media workshops and neighborhood ambassadors. Breathing Lights will magnify personal stories from the shadows of the lights and bring attention to our neglected urban landscape.
- Formation of the Film Commission Alliance. This alliance brings together film commissions from Albany, Schenectady and Saratoga to attract film makers to the region through NYS tax credits and promotion of regional attractions. With this area’s urban and rural inventory, workforce and central location, there is much potential for success.
- Formation of the Creative Industries Council. Formed to develop solutions to shared issues affecting businesses within the creative economy with 100+ employees.
- Pathways to Dance Grant Win. RACE helped create the environment that led to the successful submission for grant funding from the NYS Council on the Arts for a dance residency for the legendary Twyla Tharpe Company at the Catskill Mountain Foundation. Each of the Capital Region’s eight counties will host one of the supporting activities connected to this residency, with a world premiere of a new dance production at Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
- Themed Entertainment Association Training Institute. The Themed Entertainment Association will be hosting a three-day training featuring the lead designer for Disney Studios.
- Workforce Development Projects. The Workforce Development Institute (WDI) has several projects underway, including:
- The creation of a book of personal stories from people in the creative workforce.
- Creation of a graphic novel for young adults and parents on types of jobs in the creative economy. The novel will be distributed to at least 90 area schools.
- Determining the feasibility of a registry for freelance artists.
- Planned creation of a technical “boot camp” to be held at Proctors for young adults interested in learning about the technical aspects of artistic and event production.
- Formation of The Weavers: The Weavers are individuals within the creative industry who circulate through artistic communities to uncover and connect various creative opportunities. (WDI financially supported the creation of The Weavers.)
- Inspiration for the Creation of the Cultural Alliance of Troy. The Cultural Alliance was created in 2015 to promote Troy as a cultural destination, position cultural organizations at the civic decision-making table, expand community engagement with arts and culture, and aggressively develop plans to encourage inclusiveness and celebrate diversity. The Cultural Alliance will be a major partner in the Troy installation of Breathing Lights.
- Grant Wins for Creative Projects Through the NYS Upstate Revitalization Initiative: As part of RACE’s mission of leveraging the region’s creative assets to drive creative growth, RACE was an integral part of the Capital Region’s submission for Governor Cuomo’s Upstate Revitalization Initiative (the URI was an opportunity for the communities of upstate New York to address the economic challenges of their regions and work together in bringing jobs back upstate). As part of this work, RACE solicited ideas and suggestions from stakeholders in the region to help put the plan’s framework together. While the Capital Region did not win one of the three $1.5 billion URI awards, more than $6.8 million was awarded to Creative Economy projects within the Capital Region.
- Free Educational/Inspirational Events for Regional Creatives: RACE hosted three events in 2015 to spur discussion and share best practices with people and organizations involved in the creative industries. Nearly 500 people attended the following free programs:
- A Discussion with Bill Lynch, Director of Leadership Gifts at Brooklyn Academy of Music, at the Arts Center of the Capital Region (Feb. 23);
- Dan Pallotta: If We Changed the Way We Think About Charity, Charity Could Change the World, at the Saratoga Springs City Center, presented in collaboration with the Saratoga County Chamber (April 21);
- Inclusion in Creative Placemaking panel discussion at Basilica Hudson (Sept. 21) featuring Umberto Crenca, Co-Founder of AS220, a nationally acclaimed nonprofit arts center in Providence, Rhode Island; Wendy Holmes, Senior VP at Artspace; Jamel Mosely, owner of Mel eMedia, a multimedia production company based at The Albany Barn; and moderated by Jeff Mirel, President & Founder, the Albany Barn.