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How We Made It

Planning Process

CreateVT represents three years of work and the ideas and energy of thousands of Vermont individuals, enterprises, and leaders. It incorporates research and artwork, conversation and strategy. The two major stages of the process included an analysis led by Mt. Auburn Associates with Community Roots and strategic action planning led by Community Workshop and Shanta Lee Gander. 

Analysis: Assessing Vermont’s Creative Economy Study (2019)
This study included analysis of federal economic and employment data, as well as additional stakeholder outreach to further develop and refine an understanding of Vermont’s creative enterprises and individuals, their challenges, and statewide priorities.

Strategic Action Planning: CreateVT (2020 - 2021)
This process aimed to develop an action plan that represented the values, priorities, and creativity of the full range of creative sector stakeholders. We included Vermonters from all geographic areas, all demographics, and all types of creative sector workers and enterprises.


The CreateVT planning process brought in previous efforts from the past 20 years. It included two public surveys and several well-attended virtual meetings. A more detailed timeline is available in the action plan.

Now: CreateVT Action!
Creating, connecting, strategizing, experimenting, capacity building, training, listening, researching, designing, celebrating, and much more.

March-Fall 2021: CreateVT Strategy & Plan
The VCN held strategy sessions in early 2021 to refine our shared visions and set specific goals to reach. In May we held a virtual launch party to celebrate the new plan with remarks from special guests including Senator Patrick Leahy. Watch a recording of the launch event.

2020: CreateVT Visioning
Community Workshop designed and led a creative community engagement and action planning process to engage thousands of Vermonters to develop a shared creative vision and identify needs and opportunities for growth. With COVID restrictions in place, we pivoted to offering high-energy digital events and activities.

2019: Assessing Vermont's Creative Economy
A team led by Mt. Auburn Associates completed Vermont’s first comprehensive statewide creative sector study.

2015-2017: Vermont Creative Network Launched
The VCN’s first statewide summit was held in Montpelier in 2015, where participants helped shape the future of a network. In May 2016, the Vermont Legislature established the VCN as an initiative of the Vermont Arts Council.

2006-2007: Creative Communities Project
From 2006-2007 the Vermont Council on Rural Development supported twelve communities in exploring how to combine culture, community and commerce to grow local economies. A 2008 report summarized learning.

Visioning Sessions

During our planning process, we gathered visions for a thriving Vermont creative sector from hundreds of creative Vermonters. Then we wove them together into one. Here's a snapshot of all the diverse visions and hopes, in many creative forms.

6-Word Visions

A pinboard of sticky notesDuring the FutureJam event on Oct. 6, 2020, we asked participants to kick off the conversation by sharing a 6-word vision for a thriving Vermont creative sector. We put their ideas onto sticky notes in an interactive online pinboard. We invite you to add to the mix.

  • Click "open pinboard" below, or click the image here, to view the pinboard in your browser, where you can explore and interact with the visions.
  • When viewing the pinboard, double-click any blank note and start typing to add your own vision.
  • Drag a blue star to mark a vision you like.

Open pinboard.



Vision Portraits

Rebecca Kincaid holding up her portrait of Jason Broughton

Rebecca Kinkead
painter | Cornwall

Rebecca is a renowned painter and portrait artist. She has painted hundreds of 30-minute portraits with A Neighbor Project.

A diverse group of nine creative Vermonters sat down for Zoom interviews to paint a portrait of their vision for a creative Vermont. And while they talked with interviewers, artist Rebecca Kinkead painted a 30-minute portrait of each of them. Check out their stories and faces.

The text below is based on notes and paraphrased interview excerpts.


"My voice is not unique. It's underrepresented."

Vera Escaja-Heiss​

student, poet
Poetry Out Loud state winner | South Burlington

Vision for a creative Vermont
A greater sense of community and diversity. Equity (not necessarily equality). Awareness! Of faults, and reparations that need to be made before moving forward. An open conversation, and true collaboration, around how to move forward together.

How we get there
Start to have conversations. Talk to real people. Less competition, more support.​ More poetry out loud. Make sure everyone is heard. It starts with education. More diversity training at young ages. More programs and opportunities. We need to amplify creative outlooks at a young age.

"Vermont should be a massive, creative magnet."

Michael Jager

Solidarity of Unbridled Labour, Karma Bird House | Burlington

Vision for a creative Vermont
Vermont's creative community should be working to create Vermont as a massive magnet– to attract and retain amazing talent from all disciplines... to create this magnetic energy we must generate far greater awareness of the incredible talent here. By pulling it together, it will become far more visible. 

How we get there

Great art, ideas, design, from all disciplines is what powers the magnet. A magnet of course also repels negative energy, we must support our creative space with responsible, just, and equitable values–always... and repel those who generate negativity. Attract. Repel. Create. Celebrate our differences!

"We need to expand the word 'artist' to include workers."

Craig Mowery

technical director, business owner, organizer
Local 919-International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Pentangle Arts | Upper Valley

Vision for a creative Vermont
Guaranteed pay. Respectable pay. More recognition for the people—the "artisan workers"—behind the scenes. There needs to be a change in perception of unionized workers. People deserve to know that imbalances in the arts exist.

How we get there
Have more events and make the arts available to more folks. The drive is there for performing arts in schools; we have to nurture and define it. We should all be a part of training folks for the future.

"We are beautifully eclectic. That's unique for a rural state."

Jason Broughton

state librarian
Vermont Department of Libraries | Barre

Vision for a creative Vermont
Concentrated effort to diversify and be far more inclusive to the differently abled—those with hearing/vision impairments in particular. This population should have access to the arts and opportunities to participate in the arts, from street art to murals.

How we get there
People must have access to the resources they need. And we must provide art literacy education and art appreciation across the State. This conversation and efforts should look like a tapestry of who we are—celebrating all things from gender to abilities. We must be able to express our unique perspectives.

"Art tells our stories without opening our mouths."

Mark Foley, Jr.

small business owner, public art supporter
MFK Properties | Rutland

Vision for a creative Vermont
How to improve our communities? With art. Art is critical to a community's success. Art can improve the community's love. Art can drive our creative economy. 

How we get there
There needs to be a higher value on art. It's a fine line between chasing your paycheck and creating the art you want to. There are mechanisms that are successful in bringing capitalism and creativity together. We need more opportunity for artists and creatives. We need more venues and opportunities to show work.

"Working together and networking builds resiliency."

Molly Vesey

museum director
Old Stone House Museum | Brownington

Vision for a creative Vermont
Networks and collaborations in the creative economy. A creative economy is a really important part of the fabric of this area. Connections and partnerships with other sectors will create a more resilient community.

How we get there
We already have a culture of caring. We need strong infrastructure built to support the creative economy. Vermont does a good job supporting it already. But we need more resources directed to support this work in the NEK.

"There's no other place to do what I do."

Heather Ritchie

granite carver
Bonnie Wee LLC | Barre

Vision for a creative Vermont
Having art accessible and available is really important. For businesses to thrive, we need to get everyone excited about art. Vermont is an amazing place to take classes and engage in art. Buy a membership to art galleries to get people engaged and do something creative. Purchase something as a gift. Plenty of people appreciate art and the culture, but not enough people to buy memberships and purchase art. 

How we get there
Art projects have been waking people up, but it will take more. It takes a community, and it takes a community who want art in their lives. If every family in Vermont purchased a membership to their local art gallery or craft store, it would change everything. We need to offer [visitors] a slice of life that not everyone has. We want to share it with the world.

"Support for the arts is paramount."

Jesse Kreitzer

Lanterna Film | Marlboro

Vision for a creative Vermont
A sense of community among other Vermont filmmakers, whether formal or informal, would allow us to commiserate with and challenge each other. It would help us avoid the potential for isolation and—with film-specific grants—foster a more engaged and visible film community.

How we get there
A stronger film culture—the kind that supports arthouse cinemas and film festivals—would be a big asset to Vermont. Grants, philanthropy, and tax-incentives that are directed specifically to Vermont film production would nurture that culture and give us the chance to showcase Vermont on screen. Vermont is rich with beautiful landscapes but even movies that are set in Vermont are usually filmed in some other state. Without a state film commission and tax incentives it's unlikely that Vermont would attract larger scale productions.

"There is something about Vermont that allows it to be a testing ground for many individuals." Portrait by Robert Liberace.

Shanta Lee Gander

writer, poet, speaker, photographer, journalist | Brattleboro

Vision for a creative Vermont
Well-fed artists who can be sustained by their creative work and have the skills to make art their business. Communities, municipalities, businesses and organizations that are deeply engaged with art and are held accountable for supporting the arts. Diversity and opportunities for individuals who do not represent the norm, but a range across class, race, age, etc. A pipeline that truly engages the next generations of artists and creatives, and a broader and more inclusive understanding of what it means to be an artist.

How we get there
The state, towns, and cities should develop ways to support the creative economy through legislation, policy, and budgeting. Study the creative economy and identify strengths and gaps. Build a bigger, more diverse, and more inclusive understanding of what it means to be creative or even a part of the creative economy. 

The Juniper Creative website homepage

Juniper Creative Arts
artist team | Brandon

Jennifer Herrera Condry
Will Kasso Condry
Alexa Herrera Condry

Juniper Creative Arts is a Black and Dominican family collective that facilitates community mural projects with colleges and universities, K-12 schools, and community-based organizations. They are nationally recognized muralists, facilitators, and educators with a mission-driven practice of creating art that both involves and celebrates historically excluded communities.

Vision Art

During the fall 2020 VisionJam, hundreds of creative Vermonters joined us to kick off the CreateVT vision and action planning process. Throughout the day, they joined sessions to share and discuss their visions for Vermont's creative sector.

Artists Will Kasso Condry, Jennifer Herrera Condry, and Alexa Herrera Condry sat in throughout the day, listening and participating. At the end, they created an original artwork capturing our collective vision.

The image below was created for the CreateVT planning process by Juniper Creative Arts.​

Profile of a blue face filled with words and images representing Vermonters' visions for a creative state