ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 3 * * All Arts News On the Web * * DECEMBER 23, 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.


      I'm dreaming of a wet Christmas?
      [Editor's Note: remember, Dick wrote this column during the Monday evening downpour.]
      This year, your stockings may be stuffed with tickets to a dance and with "stuffed stockings" from a local arts and crafts show. Carolers will serenade homes throughout the county. Someday soon (we hope) you might sculpt a new snowfall into snowmen and children will skate with the effortless grace of ballet across hockey rinks and sheltered coves.
      Art is joy.
      At this time of year, art may begin as a gift, but its impact lasts for generations. A Franklin County artist in a classroom will fill your child's days with lasting music, color, and joy.
      This season is a time of giving and love and of art. You can see it in the cards you send, hear it in the songs you sing, and feel it as you read Charles Dickens. This year, please dance with a friend, read to a child, admire a painting, and enjoy carols with your family. Happy holidays from all of us in the All Arts Council.


      Tickets for Sterling Weed's last dance concert in this century (and his first in the year 2000) make this year's best last minute stocking stuffers. New Year's Eve with Sterling Weed and his Imperial Orchestra will feature swing music, beautiful decorations, hors d'oeuvres and refreshments by Chow!Bella, and good times for everyone. It will be an alcohol free event in St Albans City Hall.
      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.


      If we build it, will they come?
      Last week, I started searching for the history of arts space in St Albans. This week, let's consider whether Franklin County can support a gallery and/or a performance arts hall.
      A public space has three important needs to survive and grow: a regular audience to attend events, volunteers to keep the doors open, and cash to pay the heat, electric, and phone bills, and to repair the roof.
      The audience may be hard to come by. Almost 2,000 people visited the Artrain but only 200 attended the VSO concert in September.
      How does the audience find cultural events? We advertise, write columns, use the Internet, post posters, talk on the radio, and put shows on Public Access. One successful local project specifically meant to stimulate interest is the Liz Lerman recital series. You can help. Write to this newspaper or e-mail the All Arts Council to tell us what you would like to see and how we can beeter tell you what is showing.
      Volunteers needed. Apply within.
      Island Arts maintains six galleries in existing businesses throughout the Champlain Islands: Banks host two; restaurants, a deli, and a resort hold the rest. One volunteer is in charge of filling each gallery but the business hosts "keep the doors open." Since many of our artists have day jobs, we plan to team with the Elder Art program, the schools, and other groups to accumulate some of the volunteers we need, but that won't be enough. Soon we will be looking for newcomers, people who might like to put in one or two afternoons each month to keep the fires burning. Call me if you are interested
      Follow the Money: Most arts groups rely on a mix of ticket sales, grants, and membership support to keep the doors open. The Opera House at Enosburg Falls has an operating budget of about $35,000--not counting the renovation costs--for a building they own. Acquiring a space demands grants, a gift, or an endowment plus a source of revenue for the ongoing budget. Our own annual membership drive starts January 1.


ST ALBANS--Sterling Weed and his Imperial Orchestra will play a special New Year's Eve free concert at Holiday House in St Albans next Wednesday, December 29, at 1:30 p.m. Everyone is invited.


      8084 is rocking in the New Year at the White Mountain Chalet in Berlin, NH. "It's already sold out," said Andre Maquera. Classic Country (the honky tonk band of Franklin County) will play the American Legion party in Richford. Run for Cover fronts the Holiday Inn in South Burlington. New Country Edition plays the Cobb Web in Georgia.


      Community organizations would not be able to involve the community without the media. We are blessed in Franklin County to have newspaper and radio staffs that give the community tremendous support through editorial features and advertising, so thank you Buyer's Digest, County Courier, St Albans Messenger, and WWSR/WLFE for your ongoing interest, enthusiasm, and boosting of the events that make Franklin County special.


      The Don Campbell Band from Portland, Maine, has won $50,000 and the title of Best New Artist in Country Music at the Country Showdown in Nashville. The band writes, produces, and sings their own music. They performed Rosalina and Cowboy Kinda Girl.
      The group won the New England Championship at the Caledonia County Fair in Lyndonville. AAC Board Member Lyle Glidden joined other Vermont musicians to judge that contest. Hosted by WLFE, the Country Showdown will return to Franklin County at the Enosburg Dairy Festival in June.


      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.


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Dick Harper, Chair

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