Casey Polomaine Talks Fusion Fundraiser 10/15 at Albany and Electric City Barns
Albany Barn and Electric City Barn in Schenectady are vital, generous, and accommodating spaces for artists to create and thrive. They are holding their fundraiser, Fusion an anti-gala Friday, October 15 and I spoke with Casey Polomaine, Director of Programming and Residencies, about what’s going on at The Barn.
Patrick White: So, Casey, tell us about what you do and what Albany Barn is for those who don’t know.
Casey Polomaine: Albany Barn is a non-profit dedicated to supporting the artists, makers, and patrons of the Capital Region’s creative economy. We work with artists at all stages in their careers by offering them affordable live and workspace (including live/work apartments, private studios, performance & exhibition spaces, and a multi-arts makers space), professional development coaching, and opportunities to work with community organizations that align with their interests and values. We have 2 locations: Albany Barn in Albany’s historic Arbor Hill neighborhood, and Electric City Barn, a makers space opened in 2018 in the Hamilton Hill neighborhood of Schenectady.
Before the pandemic, let’s say 2019, how many events were the Barn hosting per year?
Well over 100, from theatrical performances to concerts to visual art pop-ups and everything in between. Think of any type of art medium or area of interest, and it’s safe to say we’ve hosted an event for it at The Barn. Some of those events were put on by us (like our annual Fusion anti-gala) but the majority of them were hosted by local artists and creatives looking to share their work with the community.
Coming back from the pandemic, what do you see has changed for better or worse? What are the opportunities and challenges in the Capital Region arts scene?
There have been so many challenges this past year and a half — we’re an organization that thrives off of bringing people together to experience art, culture, and community collaboration, so it was incredibly difficult to close our doors for several months and not be able to experience that sense of togetherness when we all really needed it. And as we inch back to a sense of normalcy, it’s a constant battle trying to figure out how to return to business as usual while keeping people safe. But in my opinion, the spirit of The Barn is stronger than ever.
We’ve met so many new artists that used the shutdown to start or revisit their artistic passions; one of the first bookings we had when we reopened last summer was a music rehearsal on our stage for a 3-person band. The 3 friends started their band during the shutdown as a way to stay connected, and their rehearsal here was the first time they had ever played together in the same room. Helping them come together in that way was incredibly special to me, and was a reminder of how valuable art & creativity was this past year and a half when it was so easy to feel discouraged or disconnected from our loved ones and our passions.
What’s Fusion all about? What can an attendee expect?
Fusion is our annual fundraiser that celebrates the arts & all of the people that help make The Barn a fun, thriving community. While in year’s past Fusion has always been a big, in-person party, we’ve pivoted this year to offer both small, intimate in-person experiences at each of our locations (a dance party at Albany Barn, and a hands-on maker’s night at Electric City Barn), plus a virtual component so you can alternatively enjoy the event from the comfort of your own home. It’s Friday, October 15th, and we’ll have interactive art sessions, artist-talks, food & drink options, a silent auction, and so much more. Fusion is our biggest source of funding, and it’s especially important this year, as challenging as it’s been, so we can continue to keep our doors open and to offer our space & services to local artists and creatives.
Another hat you wear is Co-Artistic Director of Creative License, can you share their exciting news?
I’d love to! Creative License has recently taken a residency at the Cohoes Music Hall, and we’ll be staging our first production (since 2019!) there this Fall, a romantic comedy called Significant Other. Working with Owen Smith and the whole team at Playhouse Stage to make this happen has been such a great experience, and to be asked to partner with them and to mount our productions at the Music Hall is a huge honor. But I can confidently say that we wouldn’t be where we are today without the support of Albany Barn and Kristen Holler (The Barn’s Executive Director); she opened The Barn’s doors to us way back in 2014 with our tiny budget and huge goals, and to have been able to call The Barn home for 7 years has been a real privilege.