Notes From Outside the Box
January 2019     
signs point to yes_
Creative Sector Aligning for Action

Is the Northeast Kingdom (NEK) ready to amp up coworking and maker spaces? How about increasing creatives' access to business skill education for establishing a cultural hosts/ambassadors program? Sector members, consultants, and data all say "yes."

A study and action plan of the Northeast Kingdom's creative economy is complete. The results show that the creative economy was responsible for 9.4 percent of all the jobs in the NEK in 2017--thirty-one percent above the national average. Creative enterprises affect nearly every other economic sector in the region, from healthcare to tech. There is a particularly strong convergence with tourism, especially outdoor recreation. Jody Fried--who is chair of the Vermont Creative Network steering team, NEK zone agent for the Network, and eager to move forward--will lead the move from planning to action. "The NEK has a wealth of cultural assets with significant untapped potential. We know we can harness the energies of organizations and individuals throughout the region to benefit the economy and improve the quality of life for all our residents."

Commissioned by the Vermont Arts Council on behalf of the Vermont Creative Network, the project was carried out by a team including Melissa Levy of Community Roots, Michael Kane, Stuart Rosenfeld, Stephon Michon of Futureworks, and Julia Dixon. A twenty-five person local advisory team provided feedback and guidance. The work was supported by grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Vermont Community Foundation and informed by the participation of more than one hundred artists and community leaders.

This project will inform and inspire the Network's next big step forward: a statewide creative sector action plan that will begin development in 2019. The NEK publication will be released this month.  
From the Community Engagement Lab. Photo by Gowri Savoor.
Art Works Grants Available

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)'s principal project-based funding program is open. These matching grants, ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, are meant to support "public engagement with, and access to, various forms of excellent art across the nation, the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, learning in the arts at all stages of life, and the integration of the arts into the fabric of community life."

Recent Vermont grantees include the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, The Vermont Folklife Center, and the Community Engagement Lab.

The first deadline is February 14, 2019.   Visit the NEA website for more information.
Photo courtesy Laura Zindel Designs.
When the Enterprise is Your Own

What do auto mechanics, CBD-product makers, and sheep farmers have in common with artists? What is never easy, but worth it? And what enterprise is worth every ounce of energy invested?

VPR's podcast Brave Little State explored the work of several small business owners in Vermont. The stories point out similarities (the hours are always long) and highlight differences (permitting regulations are stringent for a farm-based enterprise). The lessons are many and often apply across industries. Artist Laura Zindel talked about her decision not to struggle with keeping the books, concluding, " . . . instead of just sort of sitting with a box of receipts and crying over them, I decided it's really worth the money to hire somebody to do the things that took me double-time to do."

Listen here to "What Does It Take To Start And Run A Successful Small Business In Vermont?"
Rebecca first discovered her love of metal art at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY.
Goggles and Appropriate Footwear

Rebacca Nase Chomyn wore flip flops and a skirt the first time she attended a welding class. Luckily, she was more fascinated than discouraged. Studying art wasn't her first choice, but working with metal appealed to her.

Rebecca is originally from Goshen. She has found her way back to Vermont, recently bought her own plasma cutter, and is establishing herself as an artist here.

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.