The Glens Falls Collaborative was founded in 2012 as a means to draw customers to downtown. A traffic circle was being constructed which was creating a challenge to Glens Falls Downtown BID (Business Improvement District) members. A small group of merchants decided to try and do something about it, to bring customers and visitors back to downtown. From these determined circumstances The Glens Falls Collaborative was born. The Collaborative is a membership organization whose mission is to band together and promote businesses in the Glens Falls region in an effort to help them grow and thrive. Currently, they have about 100 members. In addition to organizing many large downtown festivals and events, the Collaborative has created a brochure of Glens Falls with a large distribution that is used as a promotional tool for area businesses to connect with locals and out-of-town visitors alike. The Collaborative also holds membership networking mixers and works alongside the City of Glens Falls and the BID on hospitality and promotional efforts for the community.
The Collaborative has a strong working relationship with the Lake George Chamber of Commerce and CVB (Convention and Visitors Bureau), the Adirondack Chamber and with Warren County Tourism. Collaborative events, branding and marketing have become a vital part of Glens Falls’ Tourism and economic development.
A seedling version of the eventual Glens Falls Arts District began meeting monthly in 2014 as a cross promotion of the Shirt Factory, LARAC, North Country Arts, World Awareness Children’s Museum and the Wood Theater. In the early days, there were a couple of iterations including the Glens Falls Arts and one called The Art Coalition (TAC). Eventually, dues were collected to pay for an administrative person to organize meetings, take notes and to organize collective events and promotions. In 2016, after a couple of years of conversations, the Glens Falls Arts District became a sub committee of The Collaborative. At this time, arts organizations became members of The Collaborative which then took over the administrative budget to help fund the basic operations of the Arts District. Currently, there are 13 members in the Arts District.
In 2017, the Arts District was written into the Glens Falls Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) for a $125K award (Note: They are still waiting for receipt of the full amount.) to be used specifically in establishing the Arts District and Trail. The Arts District funding also includes grants from the Touba Family Foundation and the Charles R. Wood Foundation.
The Arts District is technically a committee under the umbrella of The Collaborative who cover the insurance for Arts District events as needed. LARAC, a founding member of the Arts District and member of the Collaborative manages the accounts for the organization. It is not uncommon for folks to be on at least two of the three entities and as such, there is a strong partnership.
“I host a monthly meeting for the Collaborative, I sit on the board of the Glens Falls (BID) and provide regular updates to all parties about the others. Many of us are involved in at least two of these organizations as well as others, so we have a good sense of connection and collaboration.” says Kate Austin :Co-founder and Administrator of the Arts District and Owner / Founder at Advokate
There is significant synergy and interplay between the organizations. For example, the Collaborative has used the Wood Theater to host family movies for one of their popular annual events, Hometown Holidays, which also includes The Hyde Collection as part of the events’ programming. They frequently have artist participation during their events and have collaborated with the Glens Falls Community Theater group and the Glens Falls Symphony. The map of the Arts District is located on The Glens Falls Collaborative website. They have a variety of free public events throughout the year that highlight a broad selection of businesses such as the recent Take a Bite walking restaurant tour. In 2021 The Collaborative was asked to host the Adirondack Christkindlmarkt, which originated in Lake George in 2018. This event had many local artisan vendors and brought visitors from across the Northeast.
“We strive to be inclusive of all our members, many of whom are part of the Glens Falls Arts District. We are always looking for ways to include them in our events.” says Nancy Turner : President of The Collaborative. She continues… “As we move forward as an organization and our city becomes more recognized as an artistic community, continued growth will naturally come to us. This will bring new residents and tourists who dine at our restaurants, buy tickets to attend our theaters, concerts and sporting events, and stay in our lodging establishments.”
Editors Note: This article was updated to show NORTH COUNTRY ARTS as an initial founding member of the Glens Falls Arts District. We regret our initial oversight.
For more check out – Building on Strength : A Conversation with Glens Falls Mayor Bill Collins