Blog Posts for Vermont

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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Seeing Anew: How Serving on a Selection Panel Changed My Perspective (Podcast)

Posted by Mr. John R. Killacky, Feb 28, 2012 2 comments

John R. Kilacky

(Editor's Note: Play the podcast above to hear John read his post. Both were first published by Vermont Public Radio earlier this month.) Recently I served as a panelist for the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. Forty-nine applicants wanted to be embedded in scientific research teams. They sought to explore the ethos, mythologies, and realities of this extraordinary continent. Composers wanted to listen to the wind, water, animals, and shifting ice. Visuals artists hoped to delve into infinite striations of whiteness: the effects of transparency on ice, the glitter of ice crystals, and light and shadow patterns on the surface and internal features of the frozen landscape. Photographers and documentarians were drawn to the heroics of transformative research under such harsh conditions. Poets and writers wanted to go with a blank page free of hypothesis. Choreographers aspired to locate themselves in the overwhelming immensity of endless horizons. My panel duty did not ignite a travel-lust of my own for Antarctica; instead I have been inspired by these artists to pay more attention to my own home environment. Seeing anew, I observe how the longer days continually shift the light in the woods behind our town house to reveal an ever-evolving panorama. I never realized before, just how many different kinds of birds live there even in winter.

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Creativity Will Change the Model

Posted by Bill Roper, Nov 08, 2011 2 comments

Bill Roper

On behalf of the Orton Family Foundation, I was recently visiting communities in Montana and Colorado, assessing whether they would make good Heart & Soul Community Planning demonstration projects. Part of my message during this tour was that community building and planning is broken in the United States.

Approaches to engaging the public over the last 30 years have become top-down, tired, and seemingly irrelevant. Who wants to come to a meeting to provide input on a plan developed behind closed doors and when it’s pretty clear a decision has already been made? Who ever catches the notices in the newspaper or on the bulletin boards that all look the same, are always in the same places and use technical or hot button words like updates, zoning, transportation trip levels, etc.?

In a country that expects another hundred million people by 2050, we’ve got to wake up and shake up the usual way of doing business.

To move from the left brain to the right brain, to excite people and entice them or inspire them to participate, to open up the government model and build on the assets found in our human, social, and natural landscapes. Art and the creativity it embodies and unleashes can play a critical role in this regard.

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Coping with Mother Nature: Emergency Relief & Readiness

Posted by Ms. Cornelia Carey, Sep 30, 2011 1 comment

Cornelia Carey

Nearly a month has passed since Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene blew up the East Coast affecting 17 states and territories from the Virgin Islands to Maine.

The deep river valleys of New York and Vermont were among the most severely impacted. And just as those communities were beginning to dig out, Hurricane Lee caused another round of flooding in parts of Pennsylvania and New York.

Further, drought fueled wildfires had homeowners, businesses, and firefighters scrambling for control earlier this month in Texas. In Bastrop County, TX, alone 34,068 acres burned with 1,553 homes destroyed.

Needless to say, it’s been a busy time for those of us who work as emergency responders. While Montpelier, VT, where the CERF+ office is located, narrowly missed devastation, experiencing the disaster from the front lines has been a humbling and heartbreaking experience for our staff.

Recently, Laura Scanlan, director of state and regional partnerships at the National Endowment for the Arts organized a conference call for all of the states and territories affected by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene. The news coming out of the states and territories, with the exception of Vermont and Puerto Rico (and with a few states not on the phone) is that arts organizations fared relatively well.

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