ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 7 * * All Arts News On the Web * * February 27, 2003


      ArtBits always features a calendar of the goings on of Franklin County artists. Check out these events around Franklin County. Each issue includes the entire text of our weekly newspaper column.


      A vibrant arts community improves our quality of life, helps kids learn, and brings tourism dollars. Tourist spending that stays in the community exceeds the local investment year after year. Several Franklin County Towns have arts issues on local budgets and most schools have programs in arts, dance, drama, and music.
      Summer Sounds, Franklin County's free outdoor concert series, receives partial funding from the sponsoring towns. With 14 concerts planned for Sunday evenings in Town parks, this popular series is in the budget in Highgate, St Albans City and Town, and in Richford. It is a warned item in Franklin.
      In Enosburg, "the Opera House is asking for a $20,000 appropriation," Jon Scott said. The Village and the Town jointly own the building and contract the Friends of the Opera House "to maintain and restore, operate, and maintain the building as a performing and visual arts center.
      "We have divided our budget into two parts," Mr. Scott said. Of total planned spending of $76,175, the facilities maintenance and management budget is $28,825. The OH raises the remaining $56,125, including the additional $8,825 for the facility budget, through shows, sponsorships, grants, memberships, and contributions
      Enosburg Elementary and High School will lose one of three full time music teachers as a temporary measure to cut the budget. This might mean that individual lessons will be dropped.
      "I'm hoping that we can do small group instruction and save everything else, Franklin Northeast Superintendent of Schools Mary Sherrer said. "The Board has been very careful to say we hope to reinstate this, but this is a big year with the building project."
      Fairfield will ask for $500 for the Fairfield-Fletcher-Westford Band. The East Fairfield Community Center offers arts programs, the Jig in the Valley, and more. "The Town owns that building," Town Clerk Gerry Longway said.
      "We're going to buy furniture for our new building and I'm going to look at our local artists and artisans [for that]. We have a lot of very very talented people and I want to make sure that they get showcased," she said. They may consider a mural and the new building will continue the "peanut gallery."
      The Painted Theater Curtain Project is a statewide Vermont Museum & Gallery Alliance Vermont Collections Care Program. Christine Hadsel has assessed the Town Hall curtain in Franklin.
      The project will conserve and stabilize approximately 120 curtains found in town halls, grange halls, theaters and opera houses. The curtains were painted, often by itinerant folk artists, between 1880 and 1930. VGMA has received nearly $200,000, most in out-of-state grants, to preserve Vermont's 120 curtains. Community contributions will be about $500 per curtain.
      "We'll discuss at the end of Town Meeting that VGMA has cataloged it," Town Clerk Sue Clark said. "There will eventually be a matching funds contribution from the town toward its stabilization."
      Ms. Hadsel testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee Tuesday.
      Highgate is the original home base for the Summer Sounds concerts and hosts library and Caring Community concerts as well. The school is home to the Highgate Actors Theater. In the past decade, the Town has hosted a number of large musical events and is home to the County's premier outdoor concert facility.
      A personal note. I live in Highgate; most days the "homeless" All Arts Council can be found inhabiting my business office. The people, the Selectboard, and the employees of Highgate have worked overtime to support the Arts Council and to help it succeed.
      Montgomery holds an annual art auction in the Grange (the town hall) to benefit the Historical Society. "All our local non-profit groups use it," Town Clerk Lynda Cluba said. Montgomery also hosts the summer Concerts By the Common series.
      Richford has a $17,600 question on the school warning to establish an art program in Richford Elementary School. That will allow the school to hire a half-time art teacher for students from K-6.
      Art is important in Richford "to help the kids learn," school director Annette Goyne said. This program will be integrated in the science and social studies curriculum. "A lot of the children, in fact a lot of adults, learn visually." Art instruction helps visual learners learn better. It will also reinforce "the things they get tested on. Our test scores in science are low and if we can bring them up through any means. I live art for its own sake but in combination with the other subjects, it's a real plus for the students."
      There is also a line item for the ongoing Richford Library summer program at the health center. "I see on average about 60 kids a day in the summer program," Ms. Goyne said. The program runs 25 days for three age groups and requires 75 separate lesson plans as well as books, materials, and prizes for the kids. "The best moments I remember from this job are the kids following me from the camp back to the library, kids who may never have been in a library before, have found that books are fun," she said. "Instead of walking the streets they have something good to do."
      St Albans Recreation has "partially underwritten lunchtime in the park with the Library, and the Taylor Park concerts for the Franklin County Citizens Band," Mike Boulerice said. "The Summer Sounds concerts are our big ticket item." Bay Days has continuous entertainment and the Town and City will host a series of art exhibits and shows throughout the year.
      Sheldon Elementary will fund a new half-time art teacher. "We have had a paraprofessional do some work with the students, but have never had a formal art program," school director Celeste Stebbins said. The art program will follow a very successful music program.
      In Swanton, the Chamber of Commerce, the Historical Society, the library, and other community groups present most of the arts and cultural programs.
      Many municipalities also support the arts with donations of space or services rather than cash. "We provide space for events like the Town Follies," Richford Town Clerk Gary Snider said. Enosburg hosts the Vermont Dairy Festival, St Albans City hosts the Vermont Maple Festival, and Swanton the Swanton Festival. Every town park is a gathering place for concerts, shows, exhibits and even jam sessions. Although events like these are "ex-budget," the municipalities provide maintenance and turn on electricity and lug tables and provide the infrastructure that makes arts and cultural programs possible.
      It all adds up to making Franklin County a better and better place to live.


      The Highgate Manor presents its first Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball on Saturday, March 1, with great food, great jazz, prizes and Fat Saturday revelry. mr ED will play the old favorites, Dixieland, and 30s and 40s jazz. "It's all well-known toe tapping music," Ed Moore said.
      A five-piece jazz band from Underhill, mr ED consists of a father, his two sons, a stunning vocalist, and a VSO personality. The quintet includes computer guru Ed Moore, clarinet, from Underhill, Rick Presson, bass, from the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, Tom Moore, percussion, John Moore, guitar, and vocalist Linda Pressman.
      The Manor will have Mardi Gras masks, Hurricanes at the bar and mingling jesters with beads and Delta Dogs. The menu includes traditional gumbo, a Creole ranch salad, a Cajun buffet, and a Bourbon Pecan Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce. Prizes will include a Duke Ellington portrait by Herman Leonard and a night's stay in the Lovers' Suite at Highgate Manor.
      Tickets are $35 per person. Call 868-9007 or toll free at 1-866-2GAZEBO or e-mail for info.
      "We play for the enjoyment of it," Ed Moore said. "It's a great deal of pleasure for me to watch people enjoying the music and to be able to play with my boys. It's a pretty great thing for a father to share that with his sons."


RICHFORD--The A. A. Brown Library presents Kay Maynard's introductory course in painting with oils every other weekend in March, starting this Saturday morning, from 9 a.m. to noon. Ms. Maynard is known for her watercolor classes. There will be a $10.00 charge per class. One or two spaces are still available. Call the library (848-3313) to register and ask for a list of materials.

WINOOSKI--The Vermont Association of Theaters and Theater Artists (VATTA) presents the State of Theater in Our Green Mountain State at the McCarthy Arts Center at Saint Michael's College on Saturday 2 p.m.
      The event will be a Town Meeting Day for Vermont's professional and community theater companies, actors, production staff, teachers, patrons, and audiences. We'll take Vermont's 'dramatic pulse', said Ronni Lopez, to find the status of theater around the state. A part of the fifteenth annual state Audition Day, the event will explore where theater is headed, how local theater can be affected by global and national affairs, and have a session of creative brainstorming about a statewide campaign to strengthen the viability of theater to improve the quality of life in Vermont. A reception will follow the event. Call Ronni Lopez (860-3611) or E-mail for info and directions.

BURLINGTON--Vermont's Cajun and Zydeco bands Mango Jam and Yankee Chank will perform at a dance party on Mardi Gras Eve on Monday, March 3, in the FlynnSpace at 7 p.m. Janice Russotti and Dee Garner will provide dance instruction early in the evening.
      Tickets are $10 advance, $12 day of show and are available through the Flynn Box Office (802-863-5966) or on-line at the Flynn. Proceeds will benefit the Tom Sustic Fund.

JEFFERSONVILLE--The Cambridge Arts Council presents Jim Gilmour at the Cambridge CoffeeHouse at Dinner's Dunn at the Windridge Bakery on Wednesday, March 5, 7-9 p.m. Mr. Gilmour's acoustic guitar stylings include using multiple and partial capos and alternate tunings. His lyrics, sometimes veiled, sometimes frank, speak to everyday life. He performed over 150 dates last year and won the 2002 KRCL Performing Songwriter Showcase Contest in Park City, Utah.
      The Cambridge Arts Council sponsors the CoffeeHouse on the first and third Wednesday of each month. Admission is free but donations are appreciated. E-mail for info.


      The singers of Early Music Vermont share a passion for music from the medieval, renaissance, and baroque eras. The main ensemble Celestial Sirens with soprano Marybeth McCaffrey, founder and artistic director; soprano Deborah Farnham, and alto Melissa Chesnut-Tangerman. Singer-instrumentalists Chapin Kaynor and Jeff Rehbach regularly join the Sirens.


      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.


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      This article was originally published in the St Albans Messenger and other traditional print media. It is Copyright © 2003 by Richard B. Harper. All rights reserved. Archival material is provided as-is. Links are not necessarily maintained (if a link in this article fails, try or your favorite search engine).
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