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An organization in Rochester works to increase accessibility and sustainability for local artists



Rochester, New York – Ruth Manning has been engaged in the arts her entire life.

“I’m a tapestry weaver and my mother was a sewer,” artist Ruth Manning said.

“And I had fabric around me and yarn and I made Barbie doll clothes and hats that didn’t fit. I was drawing out in the parking lot one day during the Saturday market, and this young woman, Kristina, noticed me. She was having coffee, working on her computer, and came over and said, ‘You know what? I work up there and we have figure drawing and you may want to come up and take advantage of that.'”

Since being introduced to The Yards Collective, Manning, 72, has volunteered.

“This is something that really appeals to me, like the lounge downstairs when you go in and you see a pigeon of all things, it just I think it’s aesthetically done very well along with the gallery space, which is really a sharp, classy gallery,” Manning said.

Female-identifying makers launched The Yards Collective in 2011 to provide an open and supportive artistic environment.

“It’s just really about connecting other folks in the community with each other and making sure everyone feels like they have a support network because a lot of times as artists we can kind of work in silos and just having a space where we can come together and share passions is so important,” said Kristina Kaiser, director of The Yards Collective.

It offers the community a sustainable art space that is also easily accessible. Presenting its art exchange and seasonal apparel exchange.

“The swap just kind of came out of fast fashion, wanting to kind of make sure that the things that are in our closet and we’re kind of trying to get rid of, they find a good home,” Kaiser said. “Same with the art supplies.

It’s well known that artists stockpile resources. Finding someone else who will use those items that we are seeking to get rid of is therefore important.

Allowing artisans and craftspeople to provide functional things for others to acquire.

“I had someone recently ask if two bags were too much,” Kaiser said. “We’ve had people come up with five coats of clothing or supplies. So it’s community members that bring all the goodness.”

Discovering a lot of things to consider on the proverb “one man’s trash is another man’ treasure.” Like the swap, members have discovered that the organization can carry on its goal of fostering relationships both within and outside of Rochester.

“The more people that understand what a small arts center can contribute to the larger art space, to have these little gems,” Manning said. “You are loved when you come to the arts. Don’t miss a chance to check it out and see what it’s like.”

Visit to visit or discover more about The Yards Collective.