Poughkeepsie’s ‘Art Effect’ wins $2 million grant to aid in Trolley Barn expansion

The money will go toward the $15 million expansion of the Trolley Barn, an 1800s trolley depot turned arts center.

Ben Nandy

Nov 14, 2023, 11:12 PM

Updated 243 days ago


A Poughkeepsie art institution that has helped its students achieve millions of dollars-worth of college scholarships is getting state aid to expand its mission and facilities.
As News 12 arrived at the Trolley Barn on Main Street Tuesday morning, staff were just learning in a meeting that their organization, The Art Effect, won a grant worth $2 million from the New York Regional Economic Development Council. The money will go toward the $15 million expansion of the Trolley Barn, an 1800s trolley depot turned arts center.
"I actually learned we had won the grant as you were walking in," said Adam Reid, an instructor for Spark Studios – the film program at The Art Effect.
Reid, who started in the film program at age 14 because "my parents [were] trying to get me out of the house," said the nonprofit arts program helped him discover his artistic talent.
After finishing his studies at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island, Reid returned home.
"Once I started getting the hang of the cameras and stuff, and telling stories through filmmaking, I found the passion for it," Reid said of the programs at The Art Effect. "I actually circled back after college, and I applied here, and now I teach Spark Studios."
He now works for The Art Effect, creating and teaching up-and-coming artists.
With the expansion into a new space in the back part of the Trolley Barn, The Art Effect's staff plans to offer more classes, camps and mentoring services.
Students can also obtain college credit for some courses through Dutchess Community College.
The Art Effect's Executive Director Nicole Fenichel-Hewitt said that over the years, which included mergers and name-changes, the organization has helped secure more than $6 million in college scholarships for students.
Fenichel-Hewitt added that the students' works, which are often displayed throughout the city, have provoked thoughts and conversations in the community.
"We teach students to develop their creative voice, and to use that voice to both have a leg up in building their futures but also to reinvest in their community," Fenichel-Hewitt said. "So we do a lot of public art projects like here around the Trolley Barn, our street paintings, art on the sides of the buildings, and we're working on a public sculpture right now, as well as just help people build confidence and to find their voice and to tap into the healing power of the arts."
More space may also lead to more, bigger and better ideas, Fenichel-Hewitt said.
Though the space is still being renovated, there was one piece at the far end of the room. "Everyone Deserves a Door" is a collection of painted doors that used to be on homes, colorfully painted and displaying messages from people who are without homes or housing insecure.

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