Carey Institute plans interactive Anti-Rent Wars experience

An Anti-Rent poster advertises a July 4, 1839 meeting. “Strike for the green graves of your sires, God and your happy homes!” it urges.

RENSSELAERVILLE — The Carey Institute for Global Good is receiving $5,000 from the New York State Council of the Arts Decentralization Program to help fund an interactive experience focusing on the Anti-Rent Wars, a historical event of local significance.

In the mid-1800s, Helderberg farmers resisted the Dutch patroon system’s rents for their lands.

The Carey Institute’s program manager, Rebecca Platel, told The Enterprise this week that the project is called “Down with the rent! A multidisciplinary exploration of the New York State’s Anti-Rent Era.” 

“It’s a telling of the Anti-Rent Wars through music, roughly historical re-enactment and participatory theater,” she said. “We use the hamlet of Rensselaerville as the stage.”

Platel said the majority of the grant money will be used to pay the program’s participating artists.

Although originally scheduled to take place over the 4th of July weekend this year, Platel said, the event will likely be postponed until August or September due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Friends of Conkling Hall, also based in Rensselaerville, received funding, too, as part of a $90,000 package administered for “community-based programming” across Albany, Schenectady, and Rensselaer counties, according to a release by the Arts Council. 

Friends of Conkling Hall could not be reached for comment.

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