September 30, 2021
Community Spotlight: Meet Skye Barker Maa: Creating accessible education in the arts with Factory Five Five
Factory Five Five is a new artistic community located in Aurora, CO, that offers a range of classes around the fundamentals of fashion, design, and performance for youth and adults. It’s the brainchild of entrepreneur Skye Barker Maa, creator of the Neighborhood Music & Theatre school, and Skye Bar, both located in the Stanley Marketplace. Factory Five Five was developed as a space for students and teachers who are passionate about creative design and exploring the imagination to come together and bring these visions to life.
Hi Skye! How are you doing?
I’m well! It was so wonderful to meet you in person and show you the Factory Five Five space. I’m excited for the MCA Denver LUMINOCITY Gala!
What was this inspiration for you in creating Factory Five Five? Did you notice something was missing from the Aurora/Denver arts community that you wanted to fulfill through Factory Five Five?
We have been exploring different art mediums including theater, costuming, film, improv and experiential theater forms for some time and we wanted to bring everyone together so we could collaborate and inspire each other. Our building is industrial in feel so the idea of creating a “factory” where we could crank out art together evolved. I’ve always been inspired by the women that surrounded Andy Warhol when he owned the Factory in the 60s so there is a nod to Warhol in both design and style of the space.
What is the mission behind Factory Five Five?
Our mission is to empower and embolden aspiring artists, designers and creators, bringing their imaginative visions to life.
What are some of the classes offered at Factory Five Five? Are classes available for kids and adults?
Theater: We have programming for youth ages 5-18 beginning with a Storybook Theatre program for 5-6-year-olds. Students ages 7+ have the opportunity to explore acting classes, technical theater, costuming, stage make-up, and choreography. We produce four to six full-length, fully realized student productions each school year and host a full summer of camps.
Adults may audition for a host of collaborative productions that pair theater and professional dance. We often partner with jk-co adult contemporary dance.
Film: Youth ages 8-teen may explore classes ranging from Intro to Short Film and 8 Millimeter Film to Special Effects, Green Screen, and more!
Fashion: Located in the Stanley Marketplace, our Factory Fashion design and sewing construction classes have multiple tracks for youth - adults. Factory Fashion doubles as an event rental with a fully stocked specialty cocktail bar.
We host a Mini Inc(ubator) so local designers have a workspace and small runway/event space to showcase their work.
Our programs that explore design and sewing include:
- Fashion & Design curriculum classes
- Basic Sewing curriculum classes
- Drag Tween, Teen, Queen programs - includes elements of cosplay, upcycle techniques, and classes on corset-making, hairstacking, make-up, and the care and fitting of wigs.
Not only is the educational space of Factory Five Five, you also have an immersive experience theatre, Bizarre Cafe. Can you share some of the performances that have been produced?
Bizarre Cafe just completed a three-week run of Daisy’s Day Speakeasy, an experiential production that was a collaboration between our Factory Five Five actors and jk-co adult contemporary dance. Jk-co choreographed and directed the show. Audience members were encouraged to dress in 20s flapper attire, drink Prohibition-style cocktails and join the cast as they maneuvered the audience during the performance.
Our next production is Winter Tales, which is an interactive theater experience for children. Participants will enjoy activities before and during the production and watch four short plays based on popular holiday children’s books directed by Christopher Page-Sanders and original music by Raj Dulari.
Then in the spring, we’re doing a 60s mod show full of eyeliner, Fosse-style movement, groovy tunes, and strong drinks. Keep an ear out for more on this soon.
Why do you think it’s important to have creative spaces like Factory Five Five accessible within the community?
To create, we need a place to create. Rents are high and it’s difficult to hold commercial space as an artist so we must work together to co-op space. Theater, film, and fashion design require so many layers to execute. We need tech, construction, equipment, actors/models, lighting, music, and more to present. It’s helpful if we are in the same space and can walk across a hallway to work together versus trying to network and create those relationships from far away.
Factory Five Five encourages folks to bring their imaginative visions to life. How can we bring a sense of imagination not only to our creative projects but our day-to-day lives?
Once you have trained your brain to think creatively it becomes reflexive just like anything else. Find a way to reward yourself for being curious! Think about art every day. Acknowledge the art on your streetscape and in your neighborhoods. Go see as much art as you can! At the beginning of each season, I try to organize a list of free community activities that I can enjoy with my family and friends.
Work your art brain muscle just like you would work any other muscle!!
What is coming up on the horizon that you are excited about?
The holidays at Stanley Marketplace are my favorite. October through December, the retailers host free family-friendly and adult activities ranging from a professional fashion show to trick-or-treating, a community (masked) caroling event, and pop-up Nutcracker performances by Rocky Mountain Ballet Academy.
Factory Five Five will host a free kid’s Zombie Crawl and flash mob at the Stanley Marketplace on Halloween every year. It’s all-ages youth-teen. Students must sign up but we train them for the flash mob and also teach them how to create their zombie costumes and to use basic prosthetics. Last year we had a three-year-old Zombie show up and I was completely undone by his undead cuteness.