As Executive Director of Albany Barn Kristen Holler  is a facilitator, promoter, conduit and champion of the arts in the area. Albany Barn proper at  56 2nd St. in Albany serves as an artist incubator where creatives can live and work while helping the surrounding community.

While managing that organization would be enough of a job for three people ,this year Holler oversaw the opening of Electric City Barn at 400 Craig St. in Schenectady. The facility is designed to incubate small businesses and train and educate workers with a metal shop, woodworking space, textile studio and digital media and electronics labs .

Having overseen the development of Albany Barn for years Holler is a perfect candidate for this series featuring arts influencers. 

What was the last live performance you attended?

I’m fortunate to see a lot of live performances of varying scales, most recent being The Producers by Lights Up Productions at The Albany Barn.

Name one local creative everyone needs to know.

I’m continually blown away by Amani Olugbala – as a performer, writer, educator, activist, and human. 

What is a locally produced art, craft, clothing item or delicacy you can’t live without?

My Compas Life clothing – I look forward to their new line every season, and it’s never a miss! 

What does “Creative Economy” mean to you?

It means people are finally catching on and offering a namesake to the profoundly important role art and culture has played in the rise and fall of communities throughout history, and we’re finally looking at it through the ultimate of American lenses – that of economics. 

What was the last project you oversaw to completion?

That’s a tough one for me – most of my projects tend to be larger scale and multi-phase, so I’ll say the opening of Electric City Barn marked the completion of a phase of a project that will certainly continue on. 

How can we overcome parochialism in the arts?

Collaboration – reaching across geographic and social boundaries to push the edges of dusty old ideas about what is possible in homegrown regional arts. 

What was the most important development for local arts in the last decade?

A common vernacular about the economics of the arts is the most important thing to happen to arts infrastructure, which is ultimately going to better support the development of local arts for years to come. Making art digestible to economists is no small 

What arts event/performance should every resident of the Capital Region see this year?

Selfishly, I believe The Barn’s FUSION event is a must-attend. It’s such a glimpse into what we call “Barn Life” – that “throw it against the wall and hope it sticks, failing forward, always building, always growing” essence that is being an emerging artist in the Capital Region. 

What local organization/artist/creative etc would be your dream collaborator?

Trash Pirates! …along with municipalities, private waste management firms, and environmental groups, I think we could be doing so much more through the arts to educate on the importance of solid waste reduction and ending the culture of disposable everything. 

 What is the biggest change in the arts community you have observed over the course of your career in the Capital Region art scene?

There has been a willingness to collaborate and share resources that has been building over the last 13+ years that is refreshing. I don’t hear “No” very often – and I pitch a fair amount of ‘out there’ ideas. 

Albany Barn will hold Fusion- Albany Barn’s Annual Anti-Gala  Friday, Oct 18 from 6-9 PM. The event features food by top local chefs; a life upcycling competition; the tunes of Greatmastr featuring DJ Nate da Great and DJ Trumaster and a silent auction.