Five Questions With: Howie Sneider

The nonprofit industrial arts organization Steel Yard on Tuesday celebrated its grand reopening of its 3.8-acre campus at 27 Sims Ave. in Providence, after the completion of its $2.7 million Super Studio project, an extensive renovation that updated the heat, ventilation and electrical system and created a multipurpose community space that will be open year-round.

Steel Yard Executive Director Howie Sneider spoke with Providence Business News about the project.  

PBN: What’s the best feature of the Super Studio and why?

SNEIDER: These renovations are what our community has been asking for, and what our community has stepped up to provide. First and foremost, we are now open year-round! This is huge for artists and makers who rely on the tools and resources that our shared studios provide. Now that we have heat and new windows, it will change the way we can do business from here on in.

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PBN: During any of kind of construction or renovation project, there are always surprises, and often they’re not pleasant ones. What kind of surprises came up during this project that you had to overcome?

SNEIDER: Not surprising for a building that’s a century old, we encountered structural issues in our Public Projects studio. Originally, this part of the building was built to be a temporary shed for expanded production in the 1940s. Taking an aged manufacturing site and restoring it as a preserved historic structure certainly had its challenges, but the reward is a beautiful example of our industrial heritage and future.

PBN: While the Steel Yard had a grand reopening on Tuesday, have you raised enough money to completely pay for the $2.7 million project or is the fundraising campaign continuing?

SNEIDER: We are so very close; however, there remains a gap. We have a few pending requests that look good, and we’re confident that the overall success of this project will inspire new gifts.

PBN: What do the renovations allow the Steel Yard to do that it couldn’t do before?

SNEIDER: We can operate year-round! This is huge for us and the community. Not only does being open year-round equal more accessibility for everyone – both from a time perspective and a structural one – but opportunities for students, artists, teachers and fabricators will be expanded.

We’ll now be able to collaborate with academic schedules, and a more efficient Public Projects shop will better integrate resident artists and job-training participants to keep students on a pathway to jobs and opportunities by applying their new skills to community projects, and we are ready to produce. We have orders in the works for communities across the state and are actively seeking new clients to commission functional public art.

PBN: What’s the next big thing on the agenda for the Steel Yard?

SNEIDER: Our annual Halloween Iron Pour is coming up on Oct. 19! Tickets are on sale now at ironpour2019.eventbrite.com. We also have new branding and a brand-new website rolling out soon that will increase access to our courses, events and other opportunities for everyone!

William Hamilton is PBN staff writer and special projects editor. You can follow him on Twitter @waham or email him at hamilton@pbn.com.

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