Notes From Outside the Box
May 2019     
Chittenden County Enters the Zone

The Chittenden County Zone hosted its first-ever mash-up event at the Darkroom Gallery in Essex Junction. The morning was coordinated by VCN zone agent Jim Lockridge of Big Heavy World and Kristin Humbargar, cofounder and owner of the Essex Hub for Women & Business. Creatives and community leaders from throughout the county gathered to meet and learn more about the considerable creative assets in Essex Junction and also the creative economy and marketing work being done on the statewide level.

Marketing Takes Center Stage at 3CVT Event

Photos by Nancy Nutile-Mcmenemy.
The Cornerstone Creative Community (3CVT) convened folks from around the state at a culminating event in White River Junction the following week, celebrating the intensive creative economy work that has been done in this 40-town region in east-central Vermont. The conversation was aimed to align and discuss marketing and branding strategy, and was informed by research and planning done not only in this zone but also in the Northeast Kingdom.

More than a hundred people attended this lively discussion, moderated by Anni MacKay of BigTown Gallery (and founding member of 3CVT) and coordinated by Kimberly Gilbert and her colleagues at Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Commission. Panelists included creative economy expert Michael Kane, Jody Fried from Catamount Arts (and NEK zone agent), Morganna Becker from the New England Foundation for the Arts, Andrea Rosen from the Fleming Museum, and Amy Cunningham from the Vermont Arts Council.

A Prime Example to be Celebrated

Robert McBride, founder of RAMP and VCN Southern Vermont zone agent.
Like many New England industrial areas, Bellows Falls' fortunes began to wane in the 1930s when textile mills were closing. In the late 1990s, a rebirth centered on art and creativity reversed the village's image. Once seen as a place on the decline, Bellows Falls emerged as a town on the move, full of creative assets including a gallery, studios for artists as well as retail space, and the refurbished Bellows Falls Opera House.

The Rockingham Arts and Museum Project (RAMP), founded and led by VCN Southern Vermont zone agent Robert McBride, was at the center of the work to create this thriving creative scene.

RAMP and other statewide and local partners are celebrating 20 years of revitalization with a gathering on Friday, May 17,  from 1:30-4 p.m. at the Waypoint Center. All are welcome. For more information contact RAMP by calling 802.463.3252 or by sending an email to
Why So Many Writers?

Vermont author Julia Alvarez receiving the Hispanic Heritage Award in Literature_ 2002. Photo by David Hathcox
One can't speak of Vermont's creative economy without mentioning our writers. The Creative Network's recently published study on the Northeast Kingdom's creative assets reported that the literary arts sector "makes an outsized contribution to defining the region and generating much of the region's reputation in the arts."

Staff at Vermont Public Radio (VPR) contacted the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' New England Information Office in researching "What Draws So Many Writers And Poets To Vermont?" Timothy Consedine, the regional economist there, responded with "There's actually a large concentration of writers and authors in the state relative to other states in the country . . . Across all the states and the District of Columbia, Vermont is within the top five  in terms of concentration of jobs within this category."

Have you ever wondered why? Read or listen to the full podcast to find out.
From Another Angle  

Photo by Bob Eddy.
American Census data informed a study published in February titled "The Origins of Creativity: The Case for the Arts in the United States since 1850." Karol Jan Borowiecki, a professor of economics at the University of Southern Denmark, explored trends in social mobility and racial and gender inequality of those who are employed as creatives vs. those employed as noncreatives.

In examining "clustering" of artists, the professor found that "The proximity to other fellow artists or musicians is very important, and so is interacting with other creatives. It doesn't have to be a big city, but it has to be a place with a 'scene'."

His research also revealed that
  • American women's share in creative occupations--relative to men--has typically been higher than in noncreative fields
  • Musicians are found to be the most racially mixed group of creatives
  • For every $10,000 in total family income, a person is about 2% more likely to go into a creative occupation
Read Hakim Bashara's summary of the study in this Hyperallergic posting .
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.