Second career runs on passion

After renovating eyesore to arts center, business up and down for Patrizio Center

Michael Patrizio stands in the recording studio at The Patrizio Center for the Arts.

Michael Patrizio stands in the recording studio at The Patrizio Center for the Arts. Photo by Zan Strumfeld.

— Michael Patrizio doesn’t understand the definition of “retirement.”

Less than five minutes after ending his 37-year-career as a band teacher at Shaker High School, Patrizio, 61, immediately began figuring out his next move with his life.

“I went, ‘Wait a minute. I’m not done!’ I swear to God, it really just hit me right between the eyes. ‘I know! I’ll open an arts center,’” he said, laughing. “Literally, just like that.”

Rather than going straight home from school, Patrizio drove around Latham, his home for the majority of his life, looking for a location for his new dream. Eventually, he found the building of the once-Colonie Youth Center at 5 1st Ave on Kiwanis Park. Although it was falling apart and abandoned, Patrizio spent the next three years going back and forth between banks trying to get a loan to rehabilitate it.

With the help of a former student, Michael Caruso, who is now Patrizio’s partner, the band teacher and his wife, Alana, opened the doors to his dream on June 9: The Patrizio Center for the Arts.

“I’m trying to have everything in the arts under one roof. That’s really it in a nutshell,” Patrizio said.

Since they’ve opened, more than 40 students are taking music lessons and hundreds attend health and fitness classes. The center has about 14 teachers, including Patrizio. Patrizio also works closely with the Latham Kiwanis, which owns the land.

Patrizio is constantly looking to do more.

“The sky’s the limit,” he said. “If I can imagine it, I’m gonna put it under the roof. Somebody asks for it and I can find it, it’s gonna be under the roof. And when the roof isn’t big enough, we’ll put an addition on it.”

The 6,200-square-foot, all-ages creative center sells/rents/repairs instruments, has six rooms for private music lessons ($25/half hour), a dance studio for ballet, jazz and pre-tap, a recording studio as well as wellness and fitness classes, including the popular Zumba. The building also has a kitchen for cooking classes and has art classes.

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