Notes From Outside the Box
February 2018    
Cunningham Joins Arts Council Staff

Amy Cunningham will begin as deputy director in early March; her responsibilities include serving as point person for the Vermont Creative Network. Amy will work with the newly elected executive committee of the Network Steering Team as well as with Karen Mittelman, executive director at the Arts Council. Amy was previously director of community programs at the Vermont Humanities Council, a position she held since 2014.

"We are very pleased that Amy will be joining us here at the Council. She was on the community forums team that visited 14 communities in the earliest stages of the Creative Network. We are delighted to have Amy step into leadership at this point," said Karen Mittelman. She went on: "Amy's appointment strengthens the Network's capacity to serve as convenor, advocate, and promoter."

While at the Humanities Council, Amy organized grant programs, administered an annual conference, and developed several new initiatives. She has been executive director of Everybody Wins! Vermont, and director of education and public programs at the Vermont Historical Society. In addition to an advanced degree, she holds a certificate in nonprofit management from Woodbury College. Amy serves on several local boards.
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NEK Collaborative Shows Clear Intent

Community leaders in the three counties of Vermont's Northeast Kingdom have moved toward collective planning for about twenty years. The NEK Collaborative recently reformatted its governing board and its strategies for collaboration with funders. The new strategy calls for cooperation among many stakeholders. Regional planning commissions and health care agencies, local culture organizations, food delivery systems, and others will annually identify a focused set of issues in which funding could most effectively drive desired impacts.

"This Collective Impact model has been moving closer and closer for some time. The opportunity here is to align clear needs in the region with funding capacities for maximum impact. I'm very excited to watch this large-scale planning tool develop in the next few years," explained Collaborative vice chair Jody Fried.

From a field of a dozen pressing issues, the NEK Collaborative identified two regional priority areas for the coming year:

Advancing Economic Development through the Creative, Recreation, and Food Sectors - A tri-sector task force will develop a comprehensive strategy to leverage existing assets. New partnerships will create jobs and retain or grow the region's skilled workforce. Sector strategies could include engagement to energize downtown development, industry recruitment and marketing, and presenting the region as a hub for collaborations attractive to both residents and visitors. The task force could help foster growth by connecting owners and entrepreneurs with startup and growth capital and technical assistance.

Expanding Leadership Development - Expanding youth development and leadership programs will help more people become engaged with civic life and provide opportunities for citizen empowerment. A task force will advance programs that help emerging and seasoned leaders build knowledge, strengthen skill sets, and cultivate a network with shared goals and plans. These programs could include increasing access to higher education and career training for youth, assisting adults in finding new opportunities, and building a career development network. 
FACT channel 8_ 10
Creative Sector on Local TV

Robert McBride, executive director of RAMP (Rockingham Arts and Museum Project), hosts an interview program on FACT-TV in Bellows Falls. For upwards of two years (his first show appeared in September 2015), Robert has interviewed members of his larger community. " Everyday People" airs regularly; full episodes are available online afterwards.

Over the years, Robert has hosted a range of guests, often connected to Vermont's creative sector. Recently he has spoken with Lars Hasselblad Torres, of Local 64 in Montpelier; Zon Eastes, former VCN manager; Maria Basescu, director of Next Stage in Putney; and a raft of regional artists and festival creators.

"Communities work best when people are talking with one another. With 'Everyday People,' I like to give people a forum to share ideas with the community," Robert exudes. "It's been a lot of fun, and people tell me that they watch."

Vermont is served by a network of 25 community media access centers operating 68 local channels statewide. Locally produced content can be shared with channels in the network.

Learn more about PEG access .
ArtsRiot transformed an old industrial building in Burlington's South End into a hip arts venue. Image courtesy of Luke Awtry Photography.
Arts, Culture, and Young Workers

Not all millennials aspire to big-city living. Some prefer closely knit communities where they can "enjoy quality of life and contribute to a neighborhood's sense of identity." So wrote Catamount Film Arts' Jody Fried and Erin Narey In a recent Commentary for VT Digger. The two assert that Vermont can be the perfect balance of small-town community and big-city fun - if the state continues to support its creative industries.

Places like Hardwick, Rutland, White River Junction, and Burlington's South End show that Vermont is on its way to this ideal, Jody and Erin point out. "Young people interested in sustainable agriculture and the locavore food movement, seeking affordable space for working artists and entrepreneurs, or just looking for a neighborhood with good tacos, professional theater, and funky shopping have options in Vermont thanks to deliberate creative alliances among all sectors."

The article ends with a call to support the mission and efforts of the Vermont Creative Network. The health of Vermont's economy depends on the development and promotion of Vermont's cultural assets.
Vermont Creative Network
Vermont Arts Council

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.