May 2, 2019 – On Thursday, May 2nd the Steel Yard paused construction for a groundbreaking ceremony, marking the start of the 12,000 square foot historic industrial arts studio to be open year round, heated, ventilated, restored and more accessible. Located in the Valley neighborhood of Providence, the century-old facility operated as Providence Steel and Iron until its founding as the Steel Yard in 2002. The non-profit’s professional workspace enables community access to equipment for welding, blacksmithing, jewelry, ceramics, woodworking, and the foundry arts.
Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza, whose vision for the neighborhood includes economic development and the creation of a permanent art park connecting downtown to emerging arts institutions and the diverse residential neighborhoods in the Valley neighborhood addressed the crowd gathered at the Steel Yard, “Since its founding nearly 20 years ago, the Steel Yard has opened its doors as a centerpiece to our arts community and has established itself as a cultural asset to the Creative Capital,” said Mayor Elorza. “Now, with an expansion underway, more members of our community will have the opportunity to engage with their programs, to enhance their creative skills, and contribute even more spectacular public artwork to our thriving and vibrant communities.”
Since 2010, City Council President Sabina Matos has championed Ward 15, which is home to the Steel Yard and encompasses Olneyville, Valley, and portions of Silver Lake. Like the Steel Yard, Matos calls Ward 15 home; she and her family are residents of Olneyville. “The Steel Yard enriches the city of Providence and the lives of all who call Ward 15 home,” said Council President Matos. “With their access to public programs, classes, and even workforce training they are literally making the Creative Capital more creative. I am often asked how do we get more people into the workforce, and it is not an easy answer, but one way is supporting programs and organizations that are training individuals in the maker-space area, and this expansion will provide more outlets for this type of workforce development. I was thrilled to join Howie and his team as they embark on this next chapter.”
Howie Sneider, Executive Director of the Steel Yard summed up the Super Studio restoration project, “These renovations are what our community has been asking for. Our donors have stepped up on every level, allowing the Steel Yard to be open year-round and provide more access to the tools and community of the industrial arts. In a few short weeks, we’ll be open so we can continue to teach and train and hire artists working at every level of their careers. Huge thanks to everyone who has contributed to the campaign and has pledged to continue their support while we embark on this next chapter of opportunity.”
Designed by the award-winning KITE Architects, with building and construction by TRAC Builders, renovations to the facility are directly addressing community needs. From basics such as installing heat and replacing a circa 1920’s electrical system to increasing ADA accessibility and integrating solar power, the Steel Yard will be open year-round, adding 4 months of operations each year.
The Steel Yard is an award-winning industrial arts center and Providence’s largest and most unique private outdoor venue. The 3.8-acre campus and studio, located in Providence’s Industrial Valley, is a cultural asset that serves as a sponsor and catalyst for innovative approaches to urban revitalization, arts promotion, workforce development, and community growth. The professional workspace allows for community access to equipment for welding, blacksmithing, jewelry, ceramics, and the foundry arts. The facilities at the Yard are a vital component in the careers of hundreds of independent craftspeople and entrepreneurs who would not otherwise have the capacity to establish their businesses or perfect their crafts while allowing educators the ability to teach students new skills in a creative and communal environment. Over the last 10+ years, the Steel Yard has been integral to the arts community in Rhode Island by creating shared professional workspace, introducing thousands of individuals to the industrial arts, and a creating a broader definition of public art.