‘Art is Essential,’ Vermont Arts Organizations Struggle to Survive
For arts, humanities and cultural organizations across Vermont, the pandemic has hit especially hard. Many are struggling to keep their audiences engaged and to survive financially, confronting months of lost revenue and mounting bills.
“To see arts organizations in the midst of grappling with the potential of closing. It’s heartbreaking,” said Jarvis Green, Producing Artistic Director of JAG Productions in White River Junction.
JAG launched in 2016 with a mission to produce classic and contemporary African-American theater that challenges hierarchies of race, gender, class and sexuality.
Green shared reflections on the Vermont arts scene during the pandemic in a video interview with the Vermont Arts Council.
“We’re such a small state and so art is what brings us together, it’s what connects us, it’s what keeps us in larger conversations, it’s how we see humanity reflected,” he said.
The survival of Vermont’s creative sector also intersects with renewed efforts to fight racism in Vermont, as Green explains.
“Being in conversation around race, gender, class and racism and oppression—these conversations are just now starting to happen. And it’s the work of JAG that is making these conversations accessible in a rural community that’s predominantly white,” Green said.
“Our community has shown a tremendous desire to learn more and to open themselves up to this larger conversation that they haven’t really had a chance to engage with before because something like JAG has never existed.”
The video is part of a new series produced by the Vermont Arts Council and Vermont Humanities to highlight some of the state’s vital cultural organizations, the role that they play in their communities, and their experiences during the pandemic.
The Arts Council and Vermont Humanities continue to advocate at the state level for relief for the state’s creative sector businesses and organizations.
Arts Council Executive Director Karen Mittelman, Vermont Humanities Executive Director Christopher Kaufman Ilstrup, and Vermont Creative Network chair Jody Fried recently testified before the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee about the impact of the pandemic on Vermont’s creative businesses. View their proposal for immediate funding relief here.
Now is the time for Vermonters to call their legislators to ask them to support Vermont’s art and cultural sector. Contact your legislator today before the Vermont State Legislature recesses later this month.
Related to advocacy efforts, a new Creative Sector Response and Recovery Team has been convened by the Arts Council and the Vermont Creative Network. The Team provides guidance to state officials and Governor’s Economic Mitigation and Recovery Task Force to ensure that the needs and assets of the creative sector are considered and included as they create strategies for the reopening and recovery of Vermont’s economy. For more information about advocacy efforts as well as upcoming Creative Sector Response and Recovery events, visit vermontartscouncil.org/creativerecovery.