Notes From Outside the Box
December 2016 
Happy Holidays!
Steering Team members connect at the Convening
Looking Ahead ...

As the Vermont Creative Network heads into 2017, we look ahead to the coming months and outline probable next steps.

The Steering Team - the statewide guardian of the Network - will hold its next quarterly meeting in mid-January. The team will focus on identifying key creative sector issues, exploring sustainability, and planning next steps, including the Network's next gathering. The recent Network Convening introduced the model of collective impact, now the Steering Team will investigate key issues that a collective impact model might address.

A task force formed by the team will develop a strategic planning template. The group is meeting with consultants and expects to submit its report by early summer.

Five of the six proposed Creative Zones' leadership teams are up and running; a sixth will represent Addison and Rutland counties. As each zone team meets to develop an understanding of regional capacities, assets, and needs, each is also developing a plan based on the Network's action road map: community, education, funding, leadership, technical resources, and visibility. Initial meetings reveal a broad potential scope for activities and working practices. Creative Zone agents are in touch with one another monthly.

As it develops its role as Network backbone, the Vermont Arts Council is also in strategic planning mode. The capacity of the Council to support the Network's development is a key consideration for the Council's 2018-20 plan, to be released in early summer.

Two pieces of research will be undertaken, pending approval of the Steering Team.

1. Town plan language: Vermont requires that each town approve a renewable town plan. Cursory and anecdotal research suggests that few Vermont towns contain language about creativity, the arts, or culture. Which do? Research will identify those town plans that reference the arts, culture, and creativity. This baseline study will assist Creative Zone teams as they plan.

2. Creative sector system: In Vermont, each of us likely has some sense of what the creative sector comprises. Do we understand how it works? Is there a creative sector system? Vermont's food/agriculture system has been charted, as has the renewable energy system. This research will shed light on interplay in Vermont's creative sector.
The Arts and ...

The arts, creativity, culture, and innovation are strong contributors to social and economic solutions. As our nation grapples with creating and stabilizing healthy communities, the role of the arts and creativity moves toward the center. Compelling research and practices reveal a more holistic read on the value of the arts and creativity.
Embroidered brain from Flickr user
Hey Paul Studios

The National Endowment for the Arts has recently invested in four nationwide research centers to support studies on the effect of the arts on communities and individuals. Each of the labs will design and implement a research agenda and prepare reports in one of three areas:
  • The arts, health, and social/emotional well-being
  • The arts, creativity, cognition, and learning
  • The arts, entrepreneurship, and innovation
Americans for the Arts (AFTA), the nation's leading arts advocate organization, recently completed on a series of nationwide conversations to investigate the ways in which the arts contribute to successful social and economic outcomes. The phrase "the arts and ... " points to the breadth possible in any conversation: The arts and aging, the arts and health. Through its  New Communities Initiative, AFTA aims to create a ten-year blueprint that will drive ten years of local-level capacity building, transformation, and change in order to create healthier communities over time.
Send in the Creatives

Now more than ever, cities of all sizes are working to attract artists and entrepreneurial businesses. The reason? Creative enterprises increasingly benefit economic growth.

An article in the Atlanta Business Chronicle - citing examples as far away as Amsterdam and as close as Northampton, Massachusetts - discusses options developing successful creative economies. Revitalizing old buildings, hosting festivals and conferences, and developing affordable living programs bring significant numbers of artists to communities worldwide.
Vermont Creative Network Action Roadmap 
Community | Education | Funding 
Leadership | Technical Resources | Visibility
The work of the Vermont Creative Network comprises six aspects. 
The following article, submitted by a guest, 
addresses an aspect of the roadmap.  
one model for an arts center
A Community Center for South Burlington?

Since early 2016, a group of passionate arts professionals - in cooperation with the City of South Burlington - have been exploring the possibility of developing a creative arts complex in South Burlington's new central downtown district. Now incorporated as a Vermont nonprofit, the South Burlington City Center for the Arts, has conducted focus group interviews, hosted a City Council meeting, and had several meetings with potential stakeholders.

Inspiration for South Burlington City Center for the Arts has come from a variety of similar projects that have been successful in transforming other communities. One such example is the Victoria Gardens Cultural Center in Rancho Cucamonga, California.

A feasibility study scheduled to will begin in January 2017. This will result in recommendations regarding programs, governance, and operational models that would best help fulfill the organization's mission, which, as written in its bylaws, is "to elevate, enrich and expand hearts and minds on the stage, in studio, in class and in the community by employing and encouraging development of the creative arts in South Burlington's City Center and beyond." Stay tuned!

-Tim Barden and his wife, Jennifer Marshall, operate Spotlight Vermont.
Vermont Creative Network
Vermont Arts Council