NY’s Secretary of State and Albany Symphony Orchestra Maestro Among the Speakers  

For Immediate Release: 5/02/18

SCHENECTADY--The New York State Canal Corporation will host a public forum that will explore how cultural tourism and the arts scene along the Erie Canal corridor can be a driver for economic activity and help spark sustainability and community engagement.

The forum will be held Wednesday, May 9 from 1 p.m.-3:30 p.m. at Schenectady County Community College, Elston Hall, 78 Washington Ave.

"Schenectady is the right location for these discussions, given the flurry of economic development in the city," said Brian U. Stratton, Canal Corporation director and a former Schenectady mayor. "Like the 'Electric City,' the vibe along the Canal System is 'electric' due to fantastic food, music, art, and culture that residents and visitors can discover along its 524-mile length. Our panelists will explore how we can leverage these assets to further enhance the economic renaissance that Governor Cuomo has been leading upstate."

Among the scheduled speakers is:

  • David Alan Miller, the longtime maestro and music director of the Albany Symphony Orchestra. Last July, the ASO embarked on a seven-city Water Music Tour throughout the Erie Canal corridor, including a stop at Mabee Farm Historic Site in Rotterdam Junction, where more than 5,000 turned out for an Erie Canal-themed performance.
  • New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado, whose office serves as the state's planning agency and helps manage Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's Regional Economic Development Councils.

"New York's storied Erie Canal gave rise to the rich history, culture, and diversity imprinted on our great cities two centuries after its construction began," Rosado said. "Today, we celebrate the arts and culture that make the canal corridor a fun and memorable place to visit – and a deeply fulfilling place to live."

Schenectady County Community College President Steady Moono will moderate two panel discussions at the forum. The first looks at arts and culture as essential economic drivers along the state Canal System, which this year celebrates its 100th anniversary as a system of four canals, the Erie, Champlain, Cayuga-Seneca and Oswego.

"The College is excited and proud to be hosting this dynamic forum exploring the vibrant arts scene and tourism along the Erie Canal corridor," Moono said. "There is a rich tradition in Schenectady and in the Capital Region of cultivating the arts in many forms and inviting visitors to the area to explore and enjoy all that we have to offer. We look forward to being an integral part of this regional discussion."

Representatives from various arts and cultural institutions will participate, including Rob Cassetti, senior director of the Corning Museum of Glass. Its Glassbarge, a mobile glass-blowing studio, will embark on a four-month tour on the water to mark the 150th anniversary from when the Flint Glass Works moved its factory on the Erie Canal in 1868 from Brooklyn to upstate to become Corning Glass.

A second panel will focus on how waterfronts connect arts, culture and sustainability. Schenectady has seen a burst of activity along its Erie Canal waterfront with the opening of the $480 million Rivers Casino and Mohawk Harbor complex that includes housing, offices, restaurants, retailers, marina and amphitheater on the former American Locomotive Company site.

Through the state's 2017 Consolidated Funding Application grant process, the Capital Region Economic Development Council and Department of State Local Waterfront Revitalization Program awarded Schenectady a $503,251 grant for the design of a new commercial docking facility and the construction of a new multi-use pedestrian path at the Rivers Casino-Mohawk Harbor complex, situated along the Mohawk River and Erie Canal.

"Schenectady may have 'lit the world,' but the Erie Canal's light was a beacon that brought people from distant shores to work, learn, live, pray, write, and create along its banks," said Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy. "The result is perhaps the greatest density of art and culture in a particular corridor anywhere in America – all thanks to the Erie Canal."

"People from around the globe came to cities like Schenectady and brought with them the art, ethnic traditions and culture that helped form the fabric of who we are today," said Schenectady County Legislature Chairman Anthony Jasenski. "That makes us not only stronger as a community – but more compelling as a destination."

This is the third in a series of regional discussions tied to the celebration of the bicentennial of the Erie Canal, whose construction started in 1817 and was completed in 1825. The Canal Corporation is presenting the series in cooperation with the State University of New York and the Department of State. Previous forums in Rochester and Utica have dealt with the canals' impact on economic development and New York's craft beer industry.

To register for the public forum, e-mail canalevents@canals.ny.gov

Registration for the forum and a reception following at Mohawk Harbor are free.

About the New York State Canal Corporation

New York's canal system includes four historic canals: the Erie, Champlain, Oswego and Cayuga-Seneca. Spanning 524 miles, the waterway links the Hudson River with the Great Lakes, the Finger Lakes and Lake Champlain. The canals form the backbone of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor and connect hundreds of unique and historic communities. In 2018, New York is celebrating the bicentennial of the start of the Erie Canal's construction.

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Steven Gosset
Media Relations
(914) 390-8192