Vermont Statehouse Report: Creative Sector Day 2024
Each year the Vermont Arts Council and the Vermont Creative Network, along with many friends and partners, spend a day at the Vermont Statehouse advocating for arts, culture, humanities, and the broader creative sector in Vermont. This year’s “Creative Sector Day,” held on Jan. 23, focused on updating legislators, committee testimony, and heaps of coffee and ice-cream.
The day began with a morning coffee meet-and-greet with lawmakers. Also in attendance were members of Vermont Production Collective (VPC), a nonprofit that supports film and creative media professionals.
Fortified with coffee, testimony ensued in the House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development with the first order of business being to present the Film and Creative Media Workforce Development Initiative. Testifying in support were Vermont Arts Council Executive Director Susan Evans McClure; Chad Ervin and Brian Carroll from VPC; and local filmmakers Sean Temple and Sarah Wisner.
In addition, Nick Paley, an Emmy- and Oscar-nominated filmmaker from Vermont, Zoomed in from his Los Angeles-based office.
In his testimony, Paley underscored his greatest aspiration: to return and make films in Vermont, but the infrastructure he said is lacking.
“I’m now at a point in my career where I’m getting to make some decisions about where my projects are set and where they’re filming. My hope is to make films and TV consistently in Vermont because no matter where I live, that’s where my imagination was born, that’s where I dream stories up, it’s where it comes naturally to me, ” he said. But to do that, he explained, he needs a good crew and a centralized resource to find equipment, which Vermont currently does not have.
The film initiative focuses on the need to establish and maintain just that sort of resource: a centralized database of professionals, equipment, venues, locations, jobs, and other resources for the film and creative media industry. In their testimony, Ervin and Carroll introduced Reelscout, a national database which is widely used in the industry for managing film projects and productions, organizing contacts, promoting local crews, among many other things to assist in filmmaking.
Carroll noted that a recent survey of Vermont-based film and visual media professionals conducted by VPC made it clear that the first step to advancing the film industry in Vermont is to have a centralized resource through which they can make connections and find more work.
The testimony was well received. “It sounds like it would be a very worthwhile economic development tool,” noted chair Michael Marcotte, who said that the Committee would return to the topic and invite further testimony in the coming weeks.
Not just on one day, creative sector advocacy continues throughout the legislative session. In addition to the film initiative, the Vermont Arts Council and Vermont Creative Network are also prioritizing supporting state programs that benefit the creative sector, such as Better Places, a community matching grant program empowering Vermonters to create inclusive and vibrant public places serving Vermont’s designated downtowns, village centers, new town centers, or neighborhood development areas. The program sunsets this year without additional funding.
In addition to testimony on the film initiative, the Committee heard testimony from the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development, which runs Better Places, along with several participants from around the state, who noted that without the grant funding, the projects would have never happened, not to mention the important community connections and revitalizations that occurred through it.
The Vermont Arts Council and Vermont Creative Network are also supporting legislation around climate adaptation and disaster resilience, which could include increased funding for the Council’s Animating Infrastructure and Cultural Facilities grant programs. To read more about this year’s legislative priorities, click here.
The day concluded with hearty scoops of Vermont made ice-cream for legislators and supporters.
To view photos of the day, click here.