ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 9 * * All Arts News On the Web * * May 12, 2005


      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.

      Stop in for live music and more at the Fairfax Music Sessions at the Foothills Bakery in Fairfax most Saturday afternoons at 1 p.m., at ChowBella or at the Overtime Saloon in St Albans 8-10 p.m. most Wednesday evenings, at the Bayside in St Albans Town most Sunday afternoons, and the Cambridge CoffeeHouses at 7 p.m. on the first and third Wednesday of every month.
     These gatherings bring new opportunities, gossip, "show-and-tell" and occasional workshops. The booked performances and acoustic Open Mike Nights feature music, readings, and more from the best new artists in Vermont.


      The MFA is new MBA, writer Daniel Pink claims in A Whole New Mind, published in March. In a revolution similar to the one that saw information workers displace physical laborers, the next workplace change will shift the power to people with a creative, inventive, artsy basis. He details six "senses" as crucial to 21st Century success: design, story, symphony, empathy, play and meaning, all traits common to creativity.
      For the past year or so this column has investigated the effect of the Creative Economy on Vermont. Now it is time to bring the discussion home to Franklin County.
      Project L.E.A.D. will host a Community Forum on the Creative Economy in St. Albans City Hall tonight at 6:30 p.m. This is a Franklin-Grand Isle event. Paul Costello, Executive Director of the Vermont Council on Rural Development and primary author of the statewide Creative Economy report, will moderate the discussion to help us think outside the box.
      Liz Gamache is part of a six-member team in Project L.E.A.D. that is looking at the community from a different perspective. "The forum will have a mix of folks to address the questions."
      Tonight's discussion will use a new approach to problem solving. In other VCRD events, the experts took the stage and collected commentary from the audience. In St. Albans, experts and area residents alike will sit in the audience as business owners, teachers, and other community members take the stage and collect the commentary. The panel will include Paul Bruhn of Preservation Trust, art teacher Dee Christie, non-profit arts professional Lisa Marie Charlesworth, Gerri Smart, a Creative Economy project leader from Vergennes, Sally Tarr of NWTC, reporter and writer Leon Thompson, Chow Bella owner Connie Warden, and business owner Karl Zurn.
      The audience will include Vermont Arts Council Executive Director Alexander Aldrich, St. Albans for the Future Executive Director Karen Bresnahan, John Engroff, Director of the Franklin-Grand Isle Regional Partnership, Dick Harper, All Arts Council chair, Alisha Sawyer, Executive Director of the Regional Chamber of Commerce, political leaders including Senator Sara Branon Kittell, and you.
      "I think when people start understanding that premise and realizing that it's not something brand new or foreign, it's something that we have solid examples of what has worked in other places, it starts looking real," Ms. Gamache said. "I'm looking forward to the start of this ongoing conversation in St. Albans."
      Advancing Vermont's Creative Economy, a year-long study released last year by the Vermont Council on Rural Development, puts the issue bluntly. Manufacturing ideas rather than widgets could drive Franklin County's economic future.
      "For us, the community development aspect is the springboard for economic development for so many parts of Vermont for so many communities. It's not just a big factory moving in next door that's going to bring in all sorts of jobs," said Mr. Costello. "It's encouraging entrepreneurs and helping to incubate the businesses that will build the jobs of the future."
      Most economic improvement programs include attracting (or keeping) a widget manufacturer. No one interviewed for this series believed we can attract a widget maker with thousands of jobs to this area.
      Mr. Pink believes the future of America's workforce is not with the lawyers, doctors, accountants or even widget makers, but rather with the artists, inventors, and designers who will help us move into the what he called the "Conceptual Age." Some of that paradigm shift could benefit the Franklin County economy simply because we have the inventiveness right here and are building the infrastructure necessary not only to exploit it at home but also to export our ideas to the rest of the country.
      There will be plenty to talk about tonight.
      The forum is co-sponsored by the All Arts Council, Franklin County Regional Chamber of Commerce, Franklin-Grand Isle L.E.A.D., St. Albans for the Future, and the St. Albans Messenger.

      Project L.E.A.D. has also developed a survey as part of its community needs assessment of art venues and events. They need hundreds of responses to determine what is needed in Franklin and Grand Isle counties. click here, then click on the L.E.A.D. arts icon.


      Vermont Cultural Heritage Month begins May 28 and runs through June 27. This month-long collection of events will explore Vermont's people, history, artistry, inventiveness, community, and humor. A kick-off reception will be held at Perkins Pier on the Burlington Waterfront next Tuesday, May 17, from 5-7 p.m.
      The event is an opportunity to sample Vermont foods and to enjoy live contemporary and historic entertainment. There will be tours of the replica canal schooner Lois McClure and the restoration of the tugboat C.L. Churchill, demonstrations of Vermont's woodworking heritage and of the manufacture of bobbin lace, and more. Governor Jim Douglas, Tourism and Marketing Commissioner Bruce Hyde, and Art Cohn, Director of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, will speak
      Cultural Heritage Month will feature Open Studio Weekend, Vermont Days, and the Vermont History Expo alongside about 1,000 other events.


      Grace Church in Sheldon won the calendar with the first of the summer performance season. The 2005 Summer Music at Grace series begins next weekend with the third annual Farewell Reunion Concert on Friday, May 20. The concert will feature traditional and original music, with singing and dancing from Vermont, Appalachia, Scotland, Ireland and beyond.
      This concert has become an annual event to raise money for the Tom Sustic Scholarship Fund. A suggested donation of $10/person will benefit the Tom Sustic Scholarship Fund, awarded annually to a graduating senior intending to become a teacher of young children.
      The concert is presented with support from the All Arts Council of Franklin County, Family Center of Northwestern Vermont, Messenger Print and Design, Mousetrap Pediatrics, Northwestern Medical Center and others. Call Mark Sustic (802-849-6968), e-mail or click here for more info.


      The Gallery at the VAULT fosters public access to and participation in creative works to encourage life-long learning in the Arts. VAULT (Visual Arts Using Local Talent) has a newly remodeled gallery in a former a Victorian bank in Springfield's historic Bank Block.


      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 © 2005 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).
      Thanks to recent misuse of copyright material on the Internet by individuals and archival firms alike, we emphasize that your rights to this article are limited to viewing it and printing it for personal use only. You must receive explicit permission from the All Arts Council and the author before reprinting or redistributing this article in any medium.