Poet, artist, performer, curator and activist D. Colin wears many hats. Over the last year she has donned a newer one to add to her collection as Curator and Program Director at the Fish Market Project in North Central Troy, a satellite of the Arts Center of the Capital Region. As she wraps up the 2023 season, we thought it would be informative to get an inside track of what it’s like moving the boundaries of art and creativity outside of the city center and spreading it to areas that otherwise would not have that hyper local opportunity to participate.
Please state your name and role in the organization. How long have you been in this role?
My name is D. Colin and I am the Curator and Program Director for The Fish Market Project. Although my time at The Fish Market started in January 2022 as an artist in residence, I’ve been in this current role since March of 2023.
Can you tell us more about what the FISHMARKET is and what type of programming you are running there? How long has it been in existence?
The Fish Market is literally a former fish market turned into a community arts engagement project by the Arts Center of the Capital Region. In 2021, ACCR offered two six-month artist residencies to launch the space. The second year an NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) grant made it possible for Meg Jala and myself, to offer a variety of arts programming in the space with Jade Warrick joining the team. Though they both moved on to pursue other opportunities, I’ve worked to continue the vision of community-centered arts programming. The Fish Market is a neighborhood arts hub for creatives and community members to gather, connect, and make art. Over the past year, there have been art exhibits, poetry open mics, and free workshops for a variety of art forms including acting, dance, drumming, and drawing. Every week, artists and community members have the opportunity to use the space to explore their own creative work during open hours which I like to call co-create time. I have also been able to have collaborative arts programming and special events in the space with a variety of partners including the Social Justice Artists Collective and Black Dimensions in Art, Inc. Now that The Fish Market is entering its third year and we have a better idea of what works most meaningfully there. I am excited to see how the community continues to grow.
As a satellite location for the Arts Center of the Capital Region, you have strong backing and institutional support. That said, this is a newer endeavor that will be carving out its own path in the neighborhood. What is the overall goal of the programming and what do you envision it becoming to the neighborhood?
The overall goal of programming is to provide a safe space for artists and community members to gather, to foster relationships between artists and the community, and to create together. I believe that it’s important for the arts to be accessible. A space like The Fish Market gives folks an opportunity to learn more about the arts and their own creative process while also impacting the neighborhood in a positive way. Personally, I see The Fish Market as a gathering space with the arts at its core, someplace where people can heal and grow together with creativity leading the way. When I was a young artist, I didn’t have spaces like this to help in demystifying the process of being an artist or even just in learning a variety of ways to express myself. I had to look for those outlets in other ways. My hope for The Fish Market is that it continues to be that space for others, especially those who live in North Central Troy.
As you try different events and initiatives, what are some best practice principles or suggestions you could share with other folks looking to replicate this model?
I’m often asking for feedback. Some of the ideas for workshops and events have come from folks who’ve walked in during open hours or who’ve attended other events. Keeping ideas community-centered whether through direct conversations or having a suggestion box helps not only with ideas but also with relationships. At the same time, I try to weave in programming that nobody suggested or thought about by asking what might be missing and how can I connect with the community. If people don’t know what to ask for, sometimes it’s useful to introduce experiences to see how it goes. Consistency is also a driving force in helping programming grow. When folks have an expectation of how an event will go and when programming will happen, it’s easier to promote and likely attendance will steadily grow. I think with any new project, it also takes time. The Fish Market is two years old, but I think that amount of time is necessary to get a more solid understanding of what makes the most sense in the space.
Any programming or events you have coming up that you would like to share?
We just had our Fish Market Festival, a 3-day end of season celebration. The Hudson Valley Writers Guild will be at The Fish Market in November. There will be an opening reception for their art exhibit on Friday, November 3rd starting at 5 pm. There will also be collage workshops, a poetry reading, and open gallery hours for folks to attend and see the art. I encourage folks to follow @fishmarketproject on Instagram or Facebook for schedule details. People can also stay updated by getting on the Arts Center of the Capital Region’s email list.