Blog Posts for Vermont

Weaving A New Cultural Tapestry

Posted by Mr. John R. Killacky, Apr 21, 2016 0 comments

One-third of the children in Burlington and Winooski public schools are students of color, including new Americans who are English language learners. With the demographics in our region shifting so dramatically, government agencies, educational institutions, businesses, and nonprofits are grappling with inadequate cultural competency in trying to serve these myriad populations.

Yesterday, the Flynn Center, along with Burlington City Arts, the Vermont Arts Council, and the Vermont Community Foundation, hosted a forum in Burlington called New Community Visions with Americans for the Arts. The initiative’s goal was to explore the role that the arts play in pursuing a healthy, vibrant, and cohesive community, and how individuals, arts institutions, and support organizations can help achieve that.

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The Shelburne Museum in Vermont: Last Study in our Museum Spaces Series

Posted by Meg Salocks, Feb 27, 2015 0 comments

For our last peek at Arts Ed in a New England museum space, it seems fitting to end in the state and museum that first sparked my interest in community engagement and museum education: The Shelburne Museum in Vermont. The Shelburne Museum is ineffably unique, as it is not exactly an art, history, or craft museum, but a delightful medley of seemingly anything and everything. This is apparent even at the most basic level: the Shelburne Museum is not housed in one building, but instead operates of a campus of 39 independently standing structures – including a schoolhouse, covered bridge, antique carousel, and a fully restored 1906 steamboat!

Founded in 1947 by Electra Havemeyer Webb, the museum’s unique identity and massive collection is largely thanks to Mrs. Webb’s vast, diverse aesthetic tastes and interest in the unique style of folk art, American architecture, and design. In effect, she was arguably one of the first collectors of Americana, and employees liken entering the Shelburne campus to taking a step into Electra’s mind.

In addition to being a one-of-a-kind experience in the scope of New England museums, the Shelburne Museum is also deeply rooted in its local community. Perhaps due to Vermont’s inescapable small-town vibe, to the museum’s long standing role as a local school resource, or to its physical position right at a key point on a main local throughway, the Shelburne Museum has long been a fixture of local Vermont life and a regular community leader in cultural and educational enrichment for all.

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Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts in 2014

Posted by Randy I. Cohen, Mar 20, 2014 11 comments

There is an old quote attributed to John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich:

“If any man will draw up his case, and put his name at the foot of the first page, I will give him an immediate reply. Where he compels me to turn over the sheet, he must wait my leisure.”

This was the charge given to me by a business leader who needed to make a compelling case for government and corporate arts funding:

“Keep it to one page, please,” was his request. “I can get anyone to read one page.”

With the 2014 arts advocacy season upon us, the following is my updated “Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts.”

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Creative Excellence

Posted by Mr. John R. Killacky, Jan 07, 2014 5 comments

John R. Kilacky John R. Kilacky

 

Recently, I participated on two funding panels: the National Endowment for the Arts for theater projects and a California foundation for commissioning new music. Artistic excellence was a key criterion on both panels. Defining quality used to be easy, although taste was always a mitigating factor. Now in our multicultural society, it is more complex. No longer can we calibrate merit solely through a Euro-centric framework. Experts on my theater panel reviewed applications from ensembles with budgets in the tens of thousands to those with budgets in the tens of millions. Projects included amateurs learning to tell their own stories , alongside avant-garde works, free Shakespeare, revivals of classics, puppet tales, new scripts, site specific and culturally specific productions. Communities served included Latino, African American, LGBT, elderly, children, the incarcerated, and homeless in urban, inner city, and rural locations. Music panelists judged choral, electronic, jazz, and orchestral proposals against Balinese Gamelan and East Indian vocal projects. String quartets competed with a Tibetan music master, Ghanaian drummer, Turkish singer, and Beijing Opera performer. Projects ranged from minimalist to the operatic, traditional proscenium-based concerts to multidisciplinary extravaganzas. There were limited dollars to grant, so competition was steep in both panels. Excellence mattered, and there was no lack of artistic excellence, but quality had to be judged through multiple worldviews and experiences. Panelists came from varied aesthetics, ethnicities, generations and geographies to allow for a fair review of the proposals. Equity and parity, as well as cultural competency factored into our decision-making. Liking an artist or project was not sufficient. Listening and learning from one another’s comments were vital as we navigated beyond personal taste. Context matters, traditions are essential, and community is crucial.

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My Turn: For a Humane Tax Reform

Posted by Mr. John R. Killacky, Aug 21, 2013 0 comments

John R. Kilacky John R. Killacky

 

Vermont, like many states, is considering comprehensive tax reform. Committees in the Vermont Senate and House developed proposals last legislative session and systemic changes seem high on the agenda for the 2014 session. Key components focus on increasing the portion of personal income that is taxed by capping deductions, including charitable contributions. If passed, this revision to the tax code would negatively affect the work of nonprofit organizations statewide. Vermont’s robust nonprofit sector comprises nearly 4,000 human, social service, educational, religious, and cultural organizations, ranking us No. 1 per capita in the nation. The Vermont Community Foundation reported in 2010 that these agencies generate $4.1 billion in annual revenue and represent 18.7 percent of our gross state product. Nonprofits deliver critical services that government alone cannot provide: sheltering, caring for, and feeding those less fortunate; early childhood education; and cultural enrichment are just a few examples. Nonprofits include schools, hospitals, churches, libraries, community health clinics, workforce development centers, mentoring programs, homeless shelters, food banks, theaters, and galleries. Some focus on specific populations: providing safe spaces for women, LGBT youth, refugees, the disabled, and migrant workers. They range from small, volunteer-run groups to huge universities. Although more than 80 percent of Vermont’s nonprofits operate with budgets of less than $250,000 each year. By delivering mission-related programs, nonprofits improve lives and transform communities. Investing in early intervention is more cost-effective than dealing with societal dysfunction later in life. Food and shelter vs. homelessness, after-school tutoring vs. illiteracy, involved children vs. disengaged teens, job skills training vs. unemployment, community vs. isolation — consider the alternatives.

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12 Ways to Market Your Public Art (Part One)

Posted by Elysian McNiff, Feb 14, 2013 3 comments

Elysian McNiff Elysian McNiff

It is a challenge to produce effective marketing strategies for our public art projects and programs.

Public art administrators and artists are faced with limited resources; we all wish we had more time, money, and capacity.

How do we go beyond our websites and Facebook pages and get the word out about our public art projects?

This two-part post (check out part two tomorrow) is a compilation of methods from New England-based public art administrators. One fail proof marketing formula does not exist; public art projects and budgets, locations, and audiences can be vastly different.

Consider these suggestions a “Choose Your Own Adventure” story and use what works for you.

1. Post on your website. The Boston Arts Commission features projects with interviews and community photographs on its website. Connecticut Office of the Arts Art in Public Spaces Program Manager Tamara Dimitri wants to “build an army of supporters” and help protect her program, so she plans to provide information about the importance of collecting art on the Office of the Arts’ website.

2. Spread the word in press releases and newsletters. Vermont Arts Council Program Director Michele Bailey uses press releases to get community input on a project and announce unveilings; however, she laments that press releases only touch a small audience. This brings up an important question: how do we communicate to those outside of our circle and engage the general public? Check out some of the innovative methods in the next post.

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