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Adirondack Studios

A fabricator at Adirondack Studios in Argyle measures a piece of steel that will be used in an installation for the San Francisco Opera in this 2011 photo. Upstate Alliance for the Creative Economy, a regional group that focuses on the business side of arts and culture, will hold a networking event at Adirondack Studios on Wednesday.

ARGYLE — Maureen Sager is mesmerized every time she visits Adirondack Studios.

“I’ve often said it’s like getting the golden ticket to Wonka land. When you go inside, it feels like magic,” said Sager, project director of Upstate Alliance for the Creative Economy.

The organization, which focuses on the economic development potential of arts and culture, will hold a networking event and plant tour at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the company on Route 45 that designs and makes sets and displays for theater productions and theme parks. That work has included fabrication of Diagon Alley at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios, Florida.

Other customers include Walt Disney Imagineering, Sea World and Busch Gardens.

The company, which employs more than 100 people, demonstrates the economic development potential of arts and culture, said Sager. The upstate alliance covers the eight counties in the state’s Capital District Regional Economic Development Council.

“Once you get inside and you realize the scale of this thing and the impact it has around the world, it really drives that message home much better than me going around in a car telling people about what the creative economy is about,” she said.

Upstate Alliance for the Creative Economy was established about four years ago to research and document the economic impact of arts and culture in the region.

“We wanted to change that conversation that it’s not just that the arts are nice to have, that it’s actually a really important way that we keep people employed in this region,” Sager said.

Their research found that about 30,000 people in the eight-county region earn their livelihoods as artists and designers.

“We have people who are fire breathers that have come to our events. We have filmmakers and tech programmers,” she said. “And everything has something in common that they are self-determining and they really like to talk about it.”

The group, now focused on helping free-lance artists with business development, is expanding its focus from the Albany core area by holding networking events in Green County last month and in Argyle on Wednesday.

“We have been charging ourselves with expanding into all of our counties,” Sager said.

“This is the first time that we have done a project in either Washington or Warren counties.”

Sager said she is excited that more than 60 people had registered for the Argyle event, as of Friday.

“We really didn’t know if anybody would show up because it seems far away for some people,” she said.

The event is free, but advance registration at upstateace.org is required because those who tour the plant must sign nondisclosure agreements.

A networking event in Warren County will be held at 5 p.m. April 7 at The Shirt Factory at 71 Lawrence St. in Glens Falls.

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Follow staff writer Maury Thompson at All Politics is Local blog, at PS_Politics on Twitter and at Maury Thompson Post-Star on Facebook.

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