ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 11 * * All Arts News On the Web * * April 29, 2007


      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.

      Find links to these events and more in our Spotlight!


      "The Arts will have a new voice in the region when Franklin County-based WKFC begins broadcasting on channel 8 this Sunday," station manager Franz Diefenbaker said in an exclusive interview with this column. Mr. Diefenbaker is the great grandnephew thrice removed of then-Prime Minister John Diefenbaker whose 1958 Broadcasting Act ended the Canadian Broadcasting Company's monopolistic role as regulator and sole Canadian network 1broadcaster. WKFC is the newest member of the CTV television network ("Canada's #1 Network") that also includes CFTO-Toronto and CFCF-Montreal.
      The new station will carry some of Canada's more exotic late-night programming. "We are Canadian where it can be quite cold, eh," Mr. Diefenbaker said, "so we like to think of ourselves as the 'Nudist Channel for people who just think they are naked.'"
      WKFC will also debut an exclusive arts-and-culture High Definition channel with significant local content on Sunday.
      "This is the first major investment in true arts programming in North America," New England Assembly of Arts Executive Director Jules Fedderstone said. The All Arts Council will air a weekly Artist Chat on Thursdays at 9:00 p.m. and Live on Stage showing northern Vermont concerts every Saturday at 9:00. The St. Albans Artists' Guild plans its 2-hour Wednesday Workshops for 8:00 p.m. Each will be led by a well known local artist or sculptor. Messenger columnist Leon Thompson is the lead off writer for the half-hour Writer's Wreview on Mondays at 4:30. The travel show, On the Bus will visit area museums and galleries each Tuesday at 10 p.m.
      "About 60% of the regular broadcast feed is in HD quality now," Mr. Diefenbaker said, "and that entire schedule will be reproduced in HD on Channel 8.1. We will also have about half the schedule on channel 8.2 as locally produced arts programming and that will be in HD quality, too." CTV started broadcasting HDTV (16:9 or wide-screen) programming in 2003. Currently CTV HD East and West have dedicated HDTV feeds; both are available nationally via cable and satellite.
      "Everybody does the weather on the point two feed," he said. "We wanted to try something great."
      The network also has the country's longest-running national morning news show, Canada AM, as well as a weekly newsmagazine series, W-FIVE, that predates its popular CBS rival, 60 Minutes, by two years. A CTV alliance with MTV Networks guarantees the presence of MTV Canada. Their successful programming includes Canadian-made shows such as Due South, Power Play, The Eleventh Hour and Canadian Idol. CTV also regularly produces and airs Canadian-made television movies, typically drawn from Canadian news or Canadian history. They carry some hit American series such as the Sopranos, ER, Law & Order, CSI, and "Lost." CTV owns the Canadian broadcast rights to the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics and the 2012 Summer Olympics.
      "We want to test the American market in an area that is convenient to our Montreal offices," Mr. Diefenbaker said. WKFC will be carried by Comcast on Channel 8 (moving WWBI to a different channel on Comcast) and will also be picked up as a local offering by both Dish and DirecTV satellite service. CTV is investigating national syndication with the cable and satellite carriers.
      The new station, whose call letters indicate its ties in Franklin County, completed its broadcast studio in the Franklin County Airport Industrial Park in Highgate last month. "This is an exciting project," Highgate Town Administrator Larry Kempton said. "We could do it not only because we have plenty of electrical power available from VELCO but also thanks to the new extra high speed Internet connection Governor Douglas is running up the Interstate from Burlington."
      Gov. Douglas calls it the "e-state" initiative, the plan to provide universal access to high-speed broadband internet and wireless cell service across Vermont by 2010. The gigabit passive optical network coming to Highgate will offer residents and businesses nearly unlimited data service, carrier-class quality voice service, and HDTV video.
      "It will also help us get 'Imus in the Morning' more clearly in Highgate," Mr. Kempton said.

     Remember Sunday's date. There may be a gigabit passive optical network coming up I-89 but it will not help us land a CTV studio in Highgate this year. It is, after all, that time again and you have been fooled.


COLCHESTER--The Green Mountain Renaissance Festival will hold auditions tonight from 7-10 p.m. at the Visiting Nurse Association. Call Amy (802.999.8170) or click here for more info.

ST. ALBANS--Celebrate by the Pound features chocolate from 17 different producers with music by Fiddleheads on Saturday from 2-4 p.m. at the St. Albans Historical Society. The event benefits the Franklin County Humane Society. Call 802.524.9650 for more info.

Fairfield--East Fairfield Community Center presents a community dinner dance with caller Mark Sustic and Fiddleheads with Michele Gerin-Lajoie in the gym at the Fairfield Center School on Saturday at 7 p.m. All proceeds benefit the Fairfield Food Shelf. The evening starts with a dinner of chicken parmesan, spaghetti, salad, bread, and dessert at 6 p.m. admission $10.00 per person, families for $30, and children 6 and under free. Email for more info.

ST. Albans--The Overtime Saloon presents Jim Branca & Tommy Buckley, "semi-plugged but full-fledged," on Saturday at 9 p.m. The Master of the Mystic Mojo will perform his mix of eclectic originals, as well as randomly channeling the history of music. Admission is Free. Click here or here for more info.


     The AAC and Art's Alive have extended this Franklin County outreach exhibit and sale in Burlington. The event has its spotlight on the paintings of Franklin artist Natalie LaRocque-Bouchard. The exceptional oil and watercolor paintings, fine art photographs, digital art, mixed media, and prints including fine artists Jane Bower, Mary Harper, Joy Perrino, and Valerie Ugro, and photographers Janet Bonneau, Dick Harper, April Henderson, Gustav Verderber, and Lauren Young.
      The All Arts Council will host a second "Meet the Artists" reception next Friday evening, April 6, as part of the First Friday Art Walk at Union Station in Burlington. The free evening is a chance to mingle with arts lovers from around the Champlain Valley.
      The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Union Station is located at One Main Street at the western edge of Burlington. Admission is free.


     No joke. BFA-St. Albans' Opportunities for Growth program has been thinking deep thoughts about the future of St. Albans. It is a future that dovetails with our ongoing look at Arts and Cultural Center planning.
      The Strategic Planning Committee held a public meeting Monday. "The Committee developed several proposals for recommendation to the community to determine how to address our facility needs and determine what we can afford," said Reg Godin, co-chair of the Opportunities for Growth Committee. "This is the culmination of a long process." The process has included ways to improve the arts in the school buildings and to make the facilities more useful for cultural events in the community.
      Phase I will bring the buildings into compliance with state standards for the existing enrollment, Sally Tarr said.
      The options presented include refurbishing the auditorium and adding and renovating space at the Collins-Perley Sports Complex. The auditorium and theater project would install facilities for school and community use with added storage space, dressing rooms, better lighting, and great seats. The latter is pretty important. The Collins-Perley project makes use of the largest single concert hall--3,500 seats--in the county and could include a new, better stage as well as artist gallery space on two floors.
      "We have 500,000 visitors pass though our halls each year," CPSC manager David Kimel said. The community will "need to lobby to put the stage and gallery space in."
      It is a big project and a major investment for the community. I predict an interesting and lively debate. "It's a challenge," Mr. Godin said of the size of the project and its financing.


     Ovation TV is the only real network devoted to the arts, with regular programming on visual arts, theater, opera, music and dance. Today's schedule includes Jose Cura, Great Tenor Performances, and Antiques Roadshow.


      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 © 2007 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.