Notes From Outside the Box
May 2018    
A Conference Gets Creative

The Town of Bristol is the host of the 2018 Annual Historic Preservation and Downtown Conference June 8; the day's programming highlights the creative sector. Touring musician and author Dar Williams opens the event, sharing ideas from her recent book, "What I Found in a Thousand Towns." From Seattle to Gainesville, Williams draws on her own travels and the work of urban theorists to muse on what makes towns thrive.

Members of the Vermont Creative Network plan a brown bag meet-up at lunchtime to share updates from around the state. And the Vermont Arts Council's Michele Bailey will lead a field session exploring some of the creative assets in downtown Bristol.

Visit this page for full details and a registration form. Register by May 15 to receive the early bird rate.

Granite State Cultivating the Creative Economy

New Hampshire Public Radio recently explored the increasing efforts to cultivate creatives in that state. Sarah Benning - an embroidery artist and teacher who chose to make Keene, New Hampshire her home base - was among the working artists featured in this piece which also aired on the "NEXT New England" regional news show. The current impact of the creative sector on the Granite State's economy is similar in scale to the Green Mountain State's (3.1% of total gross state product, as compared to 3.2% in Vermont) and like Vermont, they are working to maximize that potential. In fact, a bill before the New Hampshire legislature seeks to create a council of the creative economy.
"Nexus" Gathering Packs Next Stage

Entrepreneurs and artists, teachers and legislators, and other community leaders filled the Next Stage Theater in Putney on April 9. As the event's co-organizer and Vermont Creative Network steering team member Robert McBride put it, they were gathered to "out the creative economy."

Zon Eastes, founder of the Vermont Creative Network, and Dee Schneidman, program director of research and creative economy at the New England Foundation for the Arts, presented recent research about the creative sector in Vermont. The sector employs 8.6 percent of all Vermont workers - a full 32 percent above the national average, according to a study commissioned by the Vermont Arts Council in 2016. A showcase of regional success stories included The Confluence Project, the formation of the Next Stage Theater, and the Park Street School project in Springfield.

At the same time, several remarked on challenges faced in the sector. This included a comment by Vermont Arts Council Executive Director Karen Mittelman who noted, "Many artists and arts organizations are living right on the edge."

Kevin O'Connor's VTDigger article about the event can be found here.
Jasper Hill Farm's Cabot Clothbound is officially one of the best cheeses in America.
The Big Cheese

Vermont's creative economy is divided into seven categories, one of which is artisan foods. This industry is massive in Vermont, claiming 17% of creative economy jobs (according to a recent FutureWorks study). The state is also a huge player in the nation's artisan cheese game.

In the spirit of redefining American cheese from the "floppy, pale orange plastic-wrapped" stuff to the unique, flavorful varieties of today, Bon App├ętit consulted cheese experts to determine "The 25 Most Important Cheeses in America." Vermont appears on the list a whopping eight times. Descriptions accompanying each cheese laud the sustainable practices and community-oriented aspects of Vermont farms. Visit to see which craftspeople are holding their own on the national cheese scene.
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.