The Steel Yard is back and open to the public
Sophia Guerrier, A&E Editor
The world will continue to push its way forward into the information age as digital technologies boast progressive sophistication every single day. Here in Providence, RI, however, the Steel Yard is holding industrialized practices close to its heart while others are letting go.
After over four months of renovation and restoration, The Steel Yard will be reopened on Sept. 17, benefitting from a 2.7 million dollar construction project that transformed the facility’s studios, ventilation, and heating. Championing the industrial arts, The Steel Yard’s reopening will now offer year round classes in welding, jewelry, blacksmithing, and ceramics, which are opportunities that the National Center of Education Statistics has acknowledged as a declining resource nationwide.
“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,” said Howie Sneider, Executive Director of the Steel Yard, “We are so excited that we are now open so we can continue to teach and train and hire artists working at every level of their careers.”
Located in Providence’s Industrial Valley, the 3.8 acre campus has been a hub for independent craftsmen and women to establish their businesses and utilize the property’s materials to hone their skills. Studio rentals are open to all with outdoor spaces that are available for larger projects, expanding the Yard’s versatility for entrepreneurs. All skill levels aged 15 and over are also able to participate in workshops and apprenticeships that are centered around a curriculum of foundry arts; free or subsidized courses are provided as well.
One of the Yard’s most recognizable programs is “Weld-to-Work”,which combines job-readiness training with opportunities to participate in public art assemblage. The program also supports under-employed Rhode Island residents living at or below the poverty line with providing education in manufacturing. In 2018, the program graduated 72 students who went on to work in manufacturing jobs or returned back to the Yard for public project commision or teaching.
What allows the facility to keep running is the revenue generated from majorly corporate support, donors, and tuition. The money is then put right back into operation costs, education, and job training for the programs that they provide. Some of these programs include free or low cost industrial demonstrations and activities for kids and a partnership with the Young Farmers Network, which offers courses to all aged aspiring farmers in welding.
The Steel Yard was first founded in 2002 as a non-profit organization but due to contamination and costly expenses to meet environmental requirements, the Steel Yard wasn't completed until 2010. Since then, the urban landscape has hosted more than 15,000 people annually for cultural events aside from the industrial arts. A silver medal for the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence and the Gold Standard Social Impact Award has been honored to the Steel Yard in past years.
There will be a celebration for the reopening on Friday, Sept. 20, where entertainment and food will be served. Members of the Steel Yard community will also be present.