Vermont Arts Council Holds Public Forums

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The Vermont Arts Council is coming to a town near you. They are looking for help in shaping the future of the arts in Vermont.

VPR’s Neal Charnoff reports.

The Vermont Arts Council is listening. This week, the council traveled to Lyndonville and Randolph as part of a series of public forums.

The Council strives to provide money for arts projects all over Vermont. But the organization believes that because it’s based in Montpelier, there’s a perception that some areas get less attention.

One purpose of the public forums is to maintain the Council’s presence in all of Vermont’s communities. Andrea Stander is the communications director for the Vermont Arts Council. She says input from local communities is crucial to defining the long-term goals of the organization.

(Stander) “These forums are our way to hear directly from individuals what they think about the Arts Council, what they think about the arts in Vermont.¿This year, we’re going to ask people, ‘What do you need?’ in hopes of hearing ideas that we haven’t thought of yet.”

Alex Aldrich is executive director for the Vermont Arts Council. He says that community forums help give the public a better understanding of what the Arts Council does, and how it functions. Aldrich says an important theme of past forums has been the relationship between local arts and town planning.

(Aldrich) “I see a huge opportunity all the time for investing community design and rehabilitation with the arts, or through the arts – redeveloping and revitalizing downtowns, avoiding sprawl, helping with all those sort of social service activities that you hear about.”

Aldrich points to the Vergennes Opera House and the Haskell Opera House in Derby Line as two examples of how an arts center can successfully revitalize a community. Andrea Stander says that she hopes these forums will attract more town planners and government officials.

This year, the council will be incorporating a technique into their dialogues known as “mind-mapping.” Stander says that by visually posting the thoughts and suggestions of forum attendees, the council has a clearer focus for their strategic plan.

(Stander) “Here’s what the people in Manchester thought, and here’s what the people in Lyndonville thought. Now isn’t it interesting, hopefully, that there’s some similarities there.”

The forums will continue in Burlington, Manchester and Bellows Falls.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Neal Charnoff.

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