Arts News for April 2020—COVID-19 Edition
If your inboxes are anything like ours, you’re up to your gills in urgent updates, statements from organizations, invitations to virtual concerts and quinceñeras—you may feel like you’re sipping from a firehose. So, like much of your usual programming, the Council’s newsletters will be a bit different during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than all three of our monthly newsletters— ArtMail , ArtMail2: I am a Vermont Artist , and Notes From Outside the Box —we’ll be sending one streamlined newsletter that bundles the best of each along with our essential updates and resources on COVID-19.
A Letter from the Executive Director
On Thursday April 9, Vermont Arts Council Executive Director Karen Mittelman sent a letter to constituents collecting essential updates for Vermont's arts and culture sector on COVID-19 and upcoming state and federal relief efforts. Read Karen's original letter here and read on to learn more about how COVID-19 relief efforts have developed since then.
Vermont Arts Council and Vermont Humanities to Aid Arts and Humanities Organizations with COVID-19 Relief
Arts and humanities organizations in Vermont facing hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic can now apply for emergency relief funding through a new partnership between the Vermont Arts Council and Vermont Humanities.
The new COVID-19 Cultural Relief Grant Program is seeded with more than $700,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020.

Governor Phil Scott expressed his support of the program, thanking Senator Leahy and Vermont's congressional delegation for "remembering the organizations and the people who will tell the stories down the road."

Artist Relief Fund Reopens with NEFA Support
In response to the economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Council established a Rapid Response Artist Relief fund offering grants of up to $500 to Vermont artists in need. The fund has already awarded 164 grants totaling $64,435. The fund temporarily closed so the Council can process the high volume of applications. Yesterday we reopened with additional support from the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA).
To supplement the Council's relief efforts, NEFA has awarded an additional $47,000 to the Rapid Response Artist Relief fund to be distributed to a new round of applicants. The deadline for this round of applications is May 13, 2020. Learn more and apply for artist relief today at our website , and read more about NEFA's support of the relief fund in this press release .
VT Community Foundation Partners with Council on Statewide COVID-19 Relief Fund
The Vermont Community Foundation has partnered with the Vermont Arts Council to create a statewide Arts Recovery Fund to help Vermont's arts and culture sector recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Arts Recovery Fund has two goals: to deliver fast-tracked support to Vermont’s struggling arts and culture sector and to provide a central place to coordinate philanthropic giving. Direct grants will be available to support both individual artists and cultural organizations that are experiencing financial distress due to the spread of the novel coronavirus across Vermont. For donors, the Arts Recovery Fund is an opportunity to join a coordinated effort to facilitate the recovery of Vermont’s creative sector. Donations are now being accepted on the Community Foundation’s website at .

COVID-19 Q&A for Arts and Culture Sector with State Epidemiologist Patsy Kelso
Dr. Patsy Kelso, State Epidemiologist for Infectious Diseases at the Vermont Department of Health, joined the representatives from the arts and culture sector for a Q&A via Zoom on Monday. Dr. Kelso offered her expertise, responded to questions, and shared recommendations from the Department of Health. View the recording .

The Council plans to hold future Q&As with Dr. Kelso. Do you have questions that you would like answered? Complete our online form and you’ll automatically be subscribed to learn about future Q&As, and maybe you’ll hear your question answered on the air.
I am a Vermont Artist: Samirah Evans
When Samirah Evans was displaced from New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina’s destruction, she had already made her mark as a vocalist in the worldwide heart of jazz and blues. During her career as a performing artist, Samirah has fronted her own band, toured internationally in top concert venues and festivals, and shared stages with legendary artists including James Brown, B.B. King, Charles Neville and Shelia Jordan to name a few. Her debut album,  Give Me A Moment , was named the fifth best new release in 2002 by the  Times Picayune . She has recorded two other full-length CDs as a leader,  My Little Bodhisattva  (2007) and  Hot Club: Live at the Vermont Jazz Center  (2009).
After Katrina, Samirah relocated to her husband’s hometown of Brattleboro, Vermont, and she quickly fell into stride touring northeastern festivals and venues. She also discovered another passion—teaching. Samirah is a vocal faculty member at the Vermont Jazz Center in Brattleboro, VT, as well as at Williams College in Williamstown, MA, and she gives private voice instruction in her own studio. In 2019 Samirah was presented with the Louis Armstrong "A Journey in Jazz award" for her contribution and commitment to jazz in the community.

Samirah shared her thoughts on being a Vermont artist. Read Samirah's feature on the Council's website .
It Complicates Things: On Art, Isolation, and Pandemic with Mary Ruefle
In an  interview with Seven Days  last December, Vermont poet laureate Mary Ruefle describes herself as “an extrovert who doesn’t like leaving her house.” Perhaps she is just the literary leader for our times. Famously “unplugged,” Mary is old friends with isolation—it is, as she says, “a writer’s dream come true.” This writer can relate. And yet, as Mary also noted in our recent conversation, even dreams come true are complicated in a time of pandemic.
Mary has lived in Bennington since the 1970s. She is beloved around the world for her poetry and prose, and her honors include a Guggenheim, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a Whiting Award. Her most recent book,  Dunce (Wave Books, 2019) , was longlisted for the National Book Award in Poetry. Beside me on my desk right now I have her marvelous book of prose,  My Private Property , and another poetry collection,  Trances of the Blast Mary’s website  is designed to feature her erasure books, “which can otherwise not be seen as they are old, friable, one-of-kind things.” She taught for over two decades in the MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier, which is where I had the pleasure of being her student. Mary is easy to talk to, whether about writing, rain, relationships, or ashtrays. We spoke over the phone recently about art and social isolation, and the mysterious interconnection of all things.

This interview is a transcript of a conversation conducted via telephone between Mary Ruefle and Desmond Peeples. The transcript has been edited for length and clarity.
Vermont Curators Group Goes Virtual with Vermont Art Online
Staying at home doesn’t mean that you can’t keep exploring Vermont’s creative sector!
Visitors to can virtually enter twenty-nine museums and galleries across the state, with more coming online each day. Interact with exhibitions, click on objects to learn more, or try art-at-home activities great for students, parents, educators, and the general public.
Vermont Art Online was created by Sarah Briggs and Sarah Laursen of Middlebury College Museum of Art in partnership with the Vermont Curators Group, in response to the closure of the state’s museums & galleries due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Generous support to make it possible has been provided by Vermont Arts Council, Vermont Humanities Council, the Fleming Museum of Art, and the Middlebury College Museum of Art.
For more virtual art, culture, and learning resources from curators around Vermont, be sure to follow @VermontCuratorsGroup on Facebook or Instagram .
Arts Briefs
The deadline for nominations to the next Vermont Arts Awards has been extended through June 2020. Each year the Arts Awards recognize outstanding individual and organizational contributions to the arts in Vermont. The awards provide an opportunity for the recipient to be honored by colleagues, friends, family, and members of the communities where they live and work. Nominate an artist today .
The Council offices are temporarily closed , but thanks to Vermont Art Online you can view Spotlight Gallery's current exhibit from anywhere in the world. 2020 Vermont Artists to Watch is an exhibition of ten Vermont artists whose work, as curator and Vermont Art Guide editor Ric Kasini Kadour says, "commands our attention." Learn more and start your virtual tour at our website.
In response to COVID-19, the Council has modified our regular grants and programs schedule, extending some deadlines and preserving others in order to avoid delays in getting much-needed funding to the field. A list of basic grant and program changes is below. For complete information, please visit our page on  COVID-19 and Vermont Arts Council grantmaking .
Grant and Program Deadlines and Extensions
Status   : Continuing as planned
Original Deadline   : May 4, 2020
New Deadline   :    Same    

Status   : Continuing as planned    
Original Deadline   : May 15    
New Deadline   : Same    

Status   : Continuing as planned    
Original Deadline   : April 13    
New Deadline   : Same
Status   : Extended deadline     
Original Deadline   : May 1, 2020    
New Deadline   : July 27, 2020    

Animating Infrastructure   (special design grants)
Status   : Closed in March; applications are being reviewed as planned    

Status   : Extended Deadline    
Original Deadline   : March 31, 2020    
New Deadline   : July 7, 2020    
Upcoming Virtual Arts Experiences
Green Mountains Review
Wednesdays and Sundays, June through May
Spruce Peak Arts
Wednesdays at 7 p.m.
Vermont Comedy Club
April 29
For regular updates on virtual arts experiences during the pandemic, visit our website's COVID-19 resources page , or follow the Council Facebook page or the Council Twitter page.
The Vermont Arts Council is funded, in part, by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts , which requires a 1:1 match from the Vermont State Legislature. Council grants, programs, and statewide arts promotion would not be possible without the critical funding provided by these government agencies.
Vermont Arts Council | 802.828.3291