Friends of Conkling Hall to expand programming with grant money

Enterprise file photo

Friends of Conkling Hall holds events in an old church building that was constructed in 1839. The group oversaw the building while it was a Presbyterean church from 2000 until 2016, when the group became the building’s owner. 

RENSSELAERVILLE — With money received from a grant designed to benefit arts in the Capital Region, Rensselaerville’s Friends of Conkling Hall wants to feature artists from beyond the Capital Region to attract more attention to local acts and to the town in general. 

Friends of Conkling Hall board member Viviane Galloway, who secured the money, told The Enterprise this week that the organization received $5,000 from New York State Council of the Arts Decentralization Program. The program also gave $5,000 to the Carey Institute for Global Good, which is planning an event dedicated to the Anti-Rent Wars. 

“It’s very thrilling to us,” said Galloway of the endowment.

Friends of Conkling Hall operates out of an old Methodist Church, built in 1839, from which the group draws its name. In the 1990s, Presbyterians bought the building, and for 16 years, Friends of Conkling Hall oversaw the building and its events before it was donated to them in 2016.

In that time, the hall has hosted piano recitals, food tastings, and one-man shows, among other things.

“Most of our programming is ad hoc as an opportunity comes along,” Galloway said. 

With this money, the organization has an opportunity to be more proactive, Galloway explained. 

“We were thinking that we could pair a local band with a band from the lower Hudson Valley or Vermont or Saratoga to drive up and perform together,” Galloway said, “and that way we would draw more attention to Rensselaerville as well.”

Galloway added that the group would be seeking other sorts of groups as well, open to anything from dance to small theater pieces. But because of the coronavirus, some of the organization’s ideas for the grant have to be altered or delayed.

“Now we wonder if we want to bring people in from that far,” she said. 

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