ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 3 * * All Arts News On the Web * * DECEMBER 16, 1999


      We have changed the ArtBits format from monthly to weekly. This issue includes the entire text of the weekly newspaper column
      ArtBits always features a calendar of the goings on of Franklin County artists. Check out these events around Franklin County.

      There is a free AAC Networking Meeting/Coffee House at 7 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month. These gatherings bring new opportunities, gossip, and workshops every month at the The Northwest Transportation Network office in St Albans.


      Do we need more cultural space in Franklin County? Editorials, informal conversation, and our own surveys show that we do. Groups in Fairfield, Georgia, Highgate, and St Albans are quietly pondering where and how such a space might be found. Last week, I looked at art galleries in Florida. This week, let's start considering existing spaces here.
      Franklin County's 15 Elementary schools and five high schools each have auditorium and/or theater space (MVU has arguably the best theater acoustics and sight lines in the state). Schools have two handicaps: their space is generally in use during the day and it is difficult to draw large audiences to evening performances in a school. I believe many people see the venue and think the performance is "only" for the school. These factors make it difficult to use any of the schools for permanent exhibits and shows until this perception changes.
      Two opera houses were the cultural center of Franklin County in the past. Earlier in this century, the Waugh Opera House inhabited the 43,000 square foot Doolin's building on Main Street. Dr. Waugh was a local homeopath. Although the building has been divided into offices and apartments, the main staircase and much of the original floor plan remains. This opera house hosted orchestra and dance music, national revues, magicians, and traveling acts awaiting admission to Canada.
      Another doctor, B. J. Kendall, built the Opera House at Enosburg Falls in 1892. Until the early 1950s, that Opera House featured traveling and local entertainment, hosted meetings, and served as the home for prominent school events. It is now undergoing a three month renovation of the structure, ventilation, heating, and electrical systems, new dressing rooms, meeting space, a sound system, and an elevator. The finished space will host performances, trade shows, and art exhibits.
      Highgate has the Field Days site, by far the best location for a major outdoor event.
      Once upon a time there was even an 18 x 30 foot floating stage at St Albans Bay.
      Do you know some more of the history of performance space in St Albans? Sue Nadeau wants clippings, old postcards, diary entries, and any other information about the theater spaces in and around the City. Call 868-7028 or e-mail Sue at
      Next week: If we build it, will they come?


      You could go to Fiji for the first strike of the New Year's bell or to Attu in the Aleutian Islands for the millennial clock's last gasp. You could even go to Mount Pahie in New Caledonia for the second ringing of the New Year's bell or to Necker Island for the millennial clock's next to last gasp, but Franklin County still has the best offer: come to St Albans City Hall for Sterling Weed's last dance concert in this century (and his first in the year 2000).
      "I wanted to do a concert for everyone," Mr. Weed who celebrated his 99th birthday this year said.
      New Year's Eve with Sterling Weed and his Imperial Orchestra will feature swing music, hors d'oeuvres and refreshments by Chow! Bella, and good times for everyone. It will be an alcohol free event.
      Any visit with Sterling Weed is a trip; his conversation offers an instant romp through Vermont history. Mr. Weed loves to share the details from his days playing the scores for silent movies at the Waugh Opera House to leading his own orchestra in the great pavilions, and his years as a school music teacher and leader of the Enosburg Town Band.
      Reputed to be the oldest orchestra leader in the United States, Sterling Weed has been directing since 1928. He played every other Thursday at the Franklin Town Hall and spent the summer months at the Lake Carmi Pavilion. Daisy Glidden (nee Ploof) of Franklin started dancing to his music when she was 12 years old. "Back then he had Hobie Taylor on drums, Guy Burnell's son on trumpet, Rodney Ledoux of Swanton on trombone," she said.
      Sterling Weed and I will chat on WWSR and on Public Access TV (Channel 10) this week. Check the stations for the times.
      Tickets are just $10 for adults, $5 for children, and are available at the St Albans Chamber of Commerce, the St Albans Recreation Department, Jukebox CDs and Tapes, Spears Pharmacy, and Swanton Rexall.
      Make your plans now.


ST ALBANS--Pat Austin and Friends enliven Jeff's Maine Seafood, tonight at 9 p.m.
CAVENDISH--Claire Hungerford and the VSO Ah! Cappella choir give three special concerts in a residency at Cavendish Elementary School tomorrow during the school day. Ah! Cappella includes Claire Hungerford, soprano, Roger Grow, tenor, Linda Radtke, alto, and Brett Murphy, bass.
NEWPORT--Run for Cover will lift the roof just a wee bit at the Nickelodeon Caf‚, Saturday at 9 p.m.
ENOSBURG FALLS--The Enosburg Town Band will perform its Annual Holiday Concert in the Opera House at Enosburg Falls on Sunday at 2 p.m. The Friends of the Opera House will host a reception and pre-renovation walk through after the concert.


THEATRICAL--The Opera House At Enosburg Falls is launching a search for a director for a musical this coming summer. E-mail Steve Libbey for more info.
      This opportunity and others in the arts are posted on a new feature on the AAC web site Any interested community group or employer can add an interesting arts-related job or volunteer listing.


ORIGINAL THEATRICAL PLAY (December 31)--Every four years the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation hosts a competition for the composition of a full-length play. First prize is $150,000. Web site or e-mail
PLAYBOY COLLEGE FICTION CONTEST (January 1)--offers $3,000 plus publication for short fiction written by any college students (there is no age limitation). Web site
BURMAH CASTROL STAFF CHARITY COMPETITION (January 7)--seeks short fiction up to 1,800 words. Burmah Castrol House, Piper's Way, Swindon, Wiltshire SN3 1RE, England.
DOROTHEA LANGE-PAUL TAYLOR PRIZE (January 31)--$10,000 award from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, promotes the collaboration between a writer and a photographer in the formative or fieldwork stages of a documentary project. Collaborative submissions on any subject are welcome. Web site
NEW CENTURY WRITER AWARDS (January 31)--New Century Writer LLC is a not-for-profit writing awards and educational organization that awards prize money and helps writers make connection to the film production and publishing industries. Web site
SPRAWL ZPG POP-TV WRITING CONTEST (February 15)--wants a screenplay treatment, a plot description for a currently running television show featuring the theme of suburban sprawl. Open to high school students and college undergraduates with prizes in each age category. Web site or Email.


      Australia Talks Books, a monthly on-air and on-line book discussion group, is broadcast on the 250 Australian Radio National stations and world-wide via the Internet. A text-based on-line forum accompanies the broadcast. Australia Talks Books normally air on the last Friday of each month but the December broadcast is Friday December 17 at 4 p.m. local time in Western Australia which is 3 a.m. December 17 here.


      ArtBits features a quick weekly peek at the bookshelf or night stand of the folks you know in and around Franklin County. That popular feature has a page of its own at the Franklin County Bookshelf here on the AAC site.
      In honor of the Railroad Days Festival, Bookshelf has most of the volunteers from the steering committee online.


AAC dancing logo

Dick Harper, Chair

Support Free Speech on the Internet
All Arts Council of Franklin County
P.O. Box 1
Highgate Springs, VT 05460
e-mail us

Go to [ Dick Harper | All Arts Index | ArtBits Archive ]

Copyright © Richard B. Harper, 1999. All Rights Reserved.