ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 9 * * All Arts News On the Web * * November 10, 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.


      Mike Curtis of Project L.E.A.D. and the Advancing the Creative Economy project (A.C.E.) emailed, "I'm interested in starting some year round festivals." Cool.
      Consistency is crucial to any festival. The Summer Sounds concert series is successful because it is "Always on a Sunday night, always in a Town park, always at 7 o'clock, and always free." Not to mention the fact that the eclectic musicians are consistently good. That is a model we can apply to other Festivals and other events.
      There are two methods to attract visitors and arts patrons. One is to create an infrastructure that is by itself an attraction, then staff it with stars. The other is to schedule the stars week in and week out or month in and month out and then "train" the audience that good things happen on those (consistent) dates. "If you build it, they will come."
      The Berkshires draw 300,000 fine arts visitors to the Tanglewood Music Festival, Jacobís Pillow, and the Williamstown Theater Festival. Tanglewood has both a famous facility and world renowned programming including the Boston Pops and the Tanglewood Jazz Festival. Jacobís Pillow is the best festival for contemporary and modern dance in this country. It is a National Historic Landmark with two theaters, and free outdoor performances, talks, exhibits, archives, and grounds. The Williamstown Theater Festival is a summer-long theatrical event that ranks among the best of all summer stock theaters. It brings together a vast number of artists and offers about two hundred performances of classic and new plays on its Main and Nikos Stages.
      Tanglewood, Jacobís Pillow, and the Williamstown Theater are calendar independent. They have the infrastructure and the artists needed to please an audience any day of the week.
      Franklin County doesn't have the infrastructure or the budget to compete on that scale but we do have the spaces and the interest to build audience interest.
      I think Franklin County needs a bunch of different organizers, each with a specific date to fill. Enosburg's dates could be, for example, the first weekend of each month. Perhaps St. Albans could take over the last weekend of each month.
      Come to St Albans every month for the thrill of a lifetime.
      Maple Festival has April sewn up with the first great outdoor event of each year. The All Arts Council is planning the Vermont Singer/Songwriter Festival as the last great outdoor event for end-September. We could reinstitute an Arts and Fine Crafts tour after Thanksgiving. Bay Days is at the beginning of July, so an end-of-the-month event could happen in the St. Albans area then.
      It is worth noting that the Tanglewood example may offer more than it appears. In 1934 a group of music-loving summer residents organized a series of three outdoor classical concerts performed by members of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. People turned out in droves. So many turned out that the promoters repeated the experiment during the next summer. And the next. And Tanglewood, Jacobís Pillow, and Williamstown all started with just a couple of shows. Perhaps the Tanglewood example is not so far-fetched after all.
      So. Who wants to volunteer to organize the next (indoor) Grumpy Grownups Festival for January 28? Email the All Arts Council.


     Pam McCarthy, Field Director of the Vermont Agency of Human Services, asked, "if AAC might be interested in having anything displayed here at the VERY DRAB State Office Building, like we did that once at the Family Center? It would be great to liven this place up, and might expose staff and consumers to some really great local talent."
      Looks like it is time to reconstitute the traveling art exhibit.


BURLINGTON--Social Band will hold a Homecoming Concert and CD Release Party on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Unitarian Church as part of the Vermont Composerís Project. Social Band is a group of twenty singers with strong voices who give joyful performances.
      Social Band performances show that folk and classical are parts of a musical continuum. "It will be like nothing you've ever heard before," said director Amity Baker.
      Social Band debuted the Project in Franklin County in July. Call 802.658.8488 or click here for more info.

JEFFERSONVILLE--The Cambridge Arts Council presents a Classical Consort with members of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra Robin Cameron Phillips, flute, Bonnie Thurber Klimowski, cello and bass, and David Gusakov, violin at the Bryan Memorial Gallery on Sunday at 4 p.m.
      Refreshments will be available. The Suggested donation is $10 per person.

SOUTH BURLINGTON--The 53rd annual Vermont Hand Crafters Holiday Craft and Fine Art Show begins at the Sheraton Conference Center next Thursday at noon. The traditional weekend-before-Thanksgiving event will feature the work of over 180 juried Vermont artists and artisans.
      Call Cynthia Humiston Weed (800-373-5429), e-mail or click here for more info. VHC is Vermontís oldest and largest juried crafts organization.
      The holiday shopping season is upon us. If your organization plans an arts or fine crafts show or sale, email the All Arts Council to let us know.


     The St. Albans Free Library hosts a Fall Film Festival many Monday evenings at the Welden Theater. They will screen Broken Flowers on Monday, November 14. Bill Murray portrays Don Johnston, a resolutely single man whose latest lover has dumped him. After receiving a mysterious letter informing him that he has a 19-year-old son who may now be looking for his father, Don embarks on a cross-country trek in search of clues from four former flames. Unannounced visits to each of these unique women hold new surprises for Don as he confronts both his past and, consequently, his present.
      Don't forget your library card.


     The Fall Mountain Film Festival is an annual juried event in Bellows Falls.


      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.