September 17, 2019 – On Tuesday, September 17th, the Steel Yard welcomed the community back into their renovated and upgraded industrial arts studio. The 12,000 square foot historic building is now 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.   

In 2016, the Steel Yard received their first Cultural Facilities grant from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. This funding essentially kicked-off the ensuing capital campaign that has resulted in today’s restored, renovated and accessible studio. Randall Rosenbaum, Executive Director of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, said, “RISCA is honored to support The Steel Yard, and particularly its Studio Restoration project. In 2014, when the people of Rhode Island overwhelmingly supported a bond initiative for cultural capital improvements, this was what they envisioned. An exemplary cultural organization – The Steel Yard – investing in capital improvements to their studios to make them work better and more efficiently. Today we see the future of The Steel Yard reflected in this project, and wish them every success.”  

The Steel Yard also welcomes back its Public Projects department today. While the department continued operations at a neighboring facility during construction, they were sorely missed at the 27 Sims campus. The art that Public Projects designs fabricates, and installs is a community outreach component that is integral to the Steel Yard’s mission. Diane Williamson, Director of Community Development for the Town of Bristol spoke about how the functional public art amenities the Steel Yard has created for their town has benefitted their community, “Projects that we’ve developed with the Steel Yard have succeeded in celebrating the unique culture and character of different neighborhoods in Bristol while improving the bike-ability and walkability of the streets. These functional public sculptures have contributed to beautifying the town, and have become iconic placemaking for the neighborhoods. Having these amenities all support a sense of community identity and pride.”    

Howie Sneider, Executive Director of the Steel Yard stepped up to introduce the newest phase of the Steel Yard Studio Project, “As a community of artists and craftspeople, and especially industrial artists and craftspeople, we are keenly aware of the environmental cost of self-expression. At the Steel Yard we believe it is our responsibility to understand the environmental impacts of our work and to make sustainable choices whenever possible, so with special thanks to Newport Renewables, Kite Architects and the Renewable Energy Fund at Commerce RI, we’ve completed plans for the Steel Yard’s 50KW solar canopy that will be installed later this year.”  

Stuart Flanagan, Principal of Newport Renewables added, “Newport Renewables has partnered with Kite Architects and The Steel Yard to develop a solar design for the gantry mounted array that is destined to deliver financial and environmental savings to, and provide a high-quality aesthetic addition to the Yard.”   Summing up the entire project, Howie Sneider continued, “Today is about a new era – we’re bringing in the next century of industrial arts with this renovated, restored and accessible studio. 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. We are thrilled to now 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 joined us on this incredible journey.”  

Designed by the award-winning KITE Architects, with building and construction by TRAC Builders, renovations to the facility are directly addressing community needs. The solar panels designed and provided by Newport Renewables will be a step towards energy independence and responsibility that will make the industrial arts viable for generations to come.   

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