Notes From Outside the Box
January 2018    
Steering Team:
January Meeting Roundup

Arts Council executive director Karen Mittelman opened the meeting for the Creative Network Steering Team by describing some of her first meetings with individuals and organizations. "I'm so very impressed with the level of engagement I've encountered since I've moved up from the D.C. area. I'm finding there is no lukewarm in Vermont." She further expressed the Council's support for the work of the Vermont Creative Network to date. "The Council board is inspired by the possibilities inherent in the Network. We look forward to next steps."

The Steering Team elected officers (see next article) and explored best practice governance models. Network leadership recruitment was a high-priority topic. Members agreed to develop a desired team profile and a statement of inclusion. Both issues will move forward for approval at the April quarterly meeting.

Three task forces, initiated at the November Summit, are set to begin work: Investment, Identity, and Infrastructure. If you are interested in joining one of these important, energetic efforts, contact Zon Eastes.

Vision: Attract comprehensive investment in support of a major strategic vision that unites the creative community in Vermont for common action.
Leader: Jody Fried
Vision: Vermont is replete with artistic and creative energy, in our communities and among individuals. Our stories must move effectively to those who create the Vermont identity.
Leader: TBD
Vision: Vermont's creative sector can share capacities and structures in order to advance the creative capacities of us all.
Leader: Ben Doyle

The Steering Team also explored current and potential communication practices and opportunities. The Team agreed to move with intent toward Creative Ground, the data resource being developed at New England Foundation for the Arts. Jody Fried noted, "Creative Ground provides lots of benefits to the Creative Network. I see opportunities for customization of individual and organizational data and all Vermont's data would be consistent with data from throughout New England, giving us strong markers and comparisons for economic reporting."
Jody Fried, Ben Doyle, and Samantha Sheehan have taken leadership positions with the Network.
Steering Team Appoints Leaders

The Vermont Creative Network Steering Team recently elected an inaugural slate of officers. Three leaders, with support from the Vermont Arts Council, will coordinate next actions and frame the Network's ongoing future.

Jody Fried, the Steering Team's new chair, is executive director of Catamount Arts in St. Johnsbury. He is also the zone agent for the NEK Creative Zone and has been part of the Network Steering Team since its inception. He is vice-chair of the Northeast Kingdom Collaborative, a convener and leader of collective action for the benefit of the communities of the Northeast Kingdom.

Ben Doyle, vice-chair, is community and economic development director at United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development. Ben is also chair of the Vermont Community Development Association, was recently appointed to the board of Vermont State Employees Credit Union, and previously served as chair of the Vermont Humanities Council.

Samantha Sheehan is the Steering Team's sustainability overseer. In that role, she will shepherd recruitment for the Steering Team and creative zone teams. Samantha, from Waitsfield, is the newly appointed communications director for Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility. She established Valley.Works, a co-working space in Waitsfield. Samantha is also the zone agent for the Four-County Creative Zone.

Kea's Ark, built on a vacant lot in 1987.
Vibrancy, Diversity, and Inspiration

Whether it's called creative placemaking, community development, or building authenticity, every community (large or small) must address questions of inclusion, creativity, and economics.

An article published recently in the Village Voice tracks the story of Newark, New Jersey - a community maybe not at all like any in Vermont. Its population is about half of Vermont's, the demographics are different from our state, and yet, the tools Newark has used to reframe and replace are tools any Vermont community could use. Art and creativity inspire anywhere.
3CVT Gets Ball Rolling

The Creative Zone that comprises 40 towns in East Central Vermont - the Cornerstone Creative Community (3CVT) - is well on its way to thriving. The East Central Vermont Economic Development District is behind the effort, devoting a page of their website to the initiative. The Zone has held an inaugural "mash-up," sent out an e-newsletter, and is sharing widely the results of a survey of the annual economic output of the region conducted by consultant Michael Kane.

Zone agent and Network Steering Team member Chris Damiani, as well as board member and gallery owner Anni Mackay, were recently featured in this article for their efforts. The write up, in Enterprise magazine, also describes 3CVT's goals, one of which is helping to keep young people in Vermont. Damiani explains, "Say a young person lands a small part in a theater production in the region. He or she could then connect with similar theater groups and see if there are opportunities to seek larger roles. It can show there can be progression in the state." He adds, "You need not leave Vermont."
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.