Vermont Arts Council

Launched From the Basement

Something quiet but significant happened in St. Johnsbury July 9. A group of community leaders, funders, and creatives from a number of economic sectors gathered in the basement of the South Congregational Church. This meeting between a consulting team and advisory committee marked the official launch of the NEK Creative Economy Project. At the end of six months, the team will present a comprehensive plan to move forward the Northeast Kingdom’s creative sector. The actions in the plan will also result in raising community awareness of the power and potential of the creative economy in the NEK. This important work is supported by grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Vermont Community Foundation.

Community and economic development are not new concerns in the Northeast Kingdom. The Northeastern Vermont Development Association touts, “For more than 50 years, NVDA has been dedicated to helping businesses succeed. And, with more energy each year, a focus on regional development gathers strength. Since 1990, the NEK Collaborative has served as the backbone organization for the NEK REAP Zone. Working together is key, thinking regionally matters, and the creative sector is playing a big part.

Jim Kisch, CEO and president of Passumpsic Savings Bank – and a member of the advisory committee – noted, “The arts are an important pillar in the economic vitality of the Northeast Kingdom. In fact, when our team set out to quantify community prosperity, prosperous communities consistently had a vibrant arts culture. Banks like Passumpsic Bank, hospitals, and other key organizations in the region have embraced arts and creativity and the important role they play in a thriving community.”

The project team will continue to meet with community leaders and creatives. Curators, health care workers, cheese makers, and educators will all have a voice. The advisory committee members will serve as the ambassadors for the plan and provide guidance as it develops. We’ll keep you posted as work progresses.