The structure at 298 Northampton St. is “a funky old building” with a lot of history, including life as a laundromat and the former headquarters of Buffalo ReUse, said building manager Kevin Hayes.
But about a year ago, the 30,000-square-foot building was turned into the Foundry, a complex that provides affordable work spaces for artists, artisans, tradespeople and small businesses. It’s also a community space for meetings, theatrical productions and other events.
“The building is totally different” from its days as Buffalo ReUse headquarters, said Megan McNally, program director at the Foundry.
One of the biggest differences is the introduction of the “Second Saturday” series held there on the second Saturday of each month. It is a mix of performance art, spoken word, fire-dancing performances, live demonstrations, live music, artisans selling their wares, and more.
The first “Second Saturday” was held in June. This month’s installment focused on promoting local performers and featured bassist Oscar Alston, who played on all of Buffalo native Rick James’ albums.
February will feature “a bunch of different musicians” and a glass-blowing demonstration by Jason Dederich, said McNally, who explained how the series got started. It was born out of frustration among local artisans, performers and artists, she said, and became a way to introduce artists to a market and to find out what works for them and what sells.
“A lot of people were frustrated by the fact there are a lot of different markets – like the Allentown Art Festival – out there where you have to pay several hundred dollars to have a booth. It’s very frustrating not having that money or fronting the money and hoping you will be successful,” said McNally, who rents space at the Foundry to run her woodworking business, Rusted Grain. She builds furniture out of reclaimed wood primarily taken from construction projects and demolitions of houses in the city. She also offers free classes and workshops.
McNally also works for a nonprofit organization that hosts the “Second Saturday” events: Net + Positive. The group focuses on supporting local businesses, especially local tradespeople and artisans. Two key areas of focus are small businesses and the local economy, which are important to job creation in Buffalo, Hayes said.
“If we’re producing more things in Buffalo and people buy from us, the money stays in the local economy, and we’re all prosperous,” Hayes said.
In addition to hosting the “Second Saturday” series, the Foundry also offers work space, especially for people who include reclaimed or alternative materials in their creations. Shared tools and equipment also are available to tenants and the community.
“It’s a funky old building,” said Hayes, who is also a woodworker and furniture-maker.
“It’s sort of a community center. And we’re making space for craftspeople and smaller businesses of similar types,” he said.
The next “Second Saturday” at the Foundry will be from noon to 5 p.m. Feb. 9 and will feature arts and crafts for sale, live acoustic music, fresh local produce, and food and refreshments by Chef Stefan of Three Brothers Catering.
For more information on upcoming activities, events and volunteer opportunities for the “Second Saturday” series, go to www.thefoundrybuffalo.org.
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