Vermont Arts Council

Vermont Creative Futures Act

7/27/22 Update: Read our one-page summary of creative sector legislation that passed in the 2021-2022 session and was signed into law.

6/8/22 Update: Gov. Phil Scott signs historic creative sector recovery legislation. Read the press release. Read more about the Creative Futures Grant Program.

5/12/22 Update: This week, both the House and Senate passed an omnibus economic recovery bill that includes $9 million in direct COVID recovery grants for the creative sector, which we have advocated for since the session began.

The bill (S.11) has been sent to Governor Scott for his signature.

It will provide an unprecedented level of support for the creative sector, including:

(i)               $9 million of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to the Vermont Arts Council for Creative Economy grants to cover monthly operating costs, including rent, mortgage, utilities, and insurance, to creative economy businesses and nonprofits that have sustained substantial losses due to the pandemic.

(ii)             $19 million for a short-term forgivable loan program through the Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) to support Vermont businesses experiencing continued working capital shortfalls as a result of the pandemic. The arts and culture sector will be prioritized for loans in this program.

(iii)            Community Revitalization and Recovery grants for nonprofits, for-profit businesses, or municipalities. Nonprofits may apply for HVAC upgrades and other COVID-related facility adaptations.

The law also creates a Vermont Film and Media Industry Task Force, convened by the Vermont Arts Council, to study effective ways to cultivate the film and media industry in Vermont.

4/20/22 Update: The House and Senate are now in the final weeks of negotiation to reconcile their very different versions of the budget. The House unanimously supported our $17.5 million creative sector recovery package. On the Senate side, our request for creative sector recovery grants was pared down to a $5 million allocation in H.159, the economic recovery bill. Creative sector businesses and nonprofits would also benefit from the $15 million appropriation in H.159 for the VEDA forgivable loan program. We continue to advocate for as much support as possible for our sector.

4/12/22 Update: Last week, we worked with colleagues from the Chambers of Commerce and the hospitality sector to identify where we see the greatest need for economic recovery in our sectors, and where our various funding requests align. The attached letter outlines three priority investments that will benefit us all.

3/23/22 Update: H.624 passed on third reading in the House with the full $17.5 million funding request intact. Previously, on March 17, the bill was voted out of House Appropriations Committee. On March 3, the bill was voted out of the House Commerce Committee with unanimous support and only minor changes to the original bill language.

In the Senate, aid for creative sector recovery was incorporated into a broader economic development bill that provides economic aid to Vermont organizations and businesses impacted by COVID through two programs: a forgivable loan program administered by VEDA (the Vermont Economic Development Authority) and Capital Investment Grants administered by ACCD (Agency of Commerce & Community Development). We do not believe this is the most equitable or effective way to deliver urgently-needed economic relief to our sector, and we continue to advocate for the comprehensive recovery package in H.624

During the current Vermont state legislative session, the Vermont Arts Council and the Vermont Creative Network are advocating for increased investment in economic recovery for cultural organizations and creative businesses still facing an uncertain future through the Vermont Creative Futures Act (S.202; H.624).

Our recovery package invests $17.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to help our state’s vital creative sector recover from the impact of the pandemic and emerge stronger. Funding would support:

  • $10 million in Creative Economy Grants for organizations and businesses that sustained substantial losses due to Covid or who continue to operate at limited capacity
  • $4 million to help nonprofit cultural organizations with facility adaptions, for example, to purchase air-purification systems and hand-sanitizer dispensers; assess and upgrade HVAC systems; or to expand outdoor seating
  • $2 million for transitional costs required to implement safe public programming, such as touchless ticketing, online sales platforms, and Covid-related health and safety protocols
  • $750,000 for Creative Spaces Grants to revitalize vacant retail or office spaces through art and culture — for example, events, workshops, studios or exhibitions. Grants would provide rental income to landlords while enabling artists or creative businesses to thrive and sparking energy in towns and villages.
  • $500,000 to support statewide and regional marketing of arts and cultural events, venues, and creative sector businesses
  • $250,000 to sustain and build the Vermont Creative Network in order to implement the CreateVT Action Plan

Bill Sponsors

The Council extends our sincere thanks to all the co-sponsors of the Vermont Creative Futures Act for their support of Vermont’s vital creative sector.

Senate bill: S.202
Sen. Alison Clarkson
Additional sponsors:
Sen. Joseph Benning
Sen. Ann Cummings
Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale

House bill: H.624
Rep. Stephanie Jerome
Additional sponsors:
Rep. Sarah “Sarita” Austin
Rep. Jessica Brumsted
Rep. Mollie Burke
Rep. R. Scott Campbell
Rep. Brian Cina
Rep. Sara Coffey
Rep. Lawrence Cupoli
Rep. Katherine “Kari” Dolan
Rep. David Durfee
Rep. Lisa Hango
Rep. John Killacky
Rep. Warren Kitzmiller
Rep. Emma Mulvaney-Stanak
Rep. Logan Nicoll
Rep. Daniel Noyes
Rep. Woodman Page
Rep. Kelly Pajala
Rep. Barbara Rachelson
Rep. Heidi Scheuermann
Rep. Katherine Sims
Rep. Gabrielle Stebbins
Rep. Kirk White
Rep. Theresa Wood
Rep. Michael Yantachka

Bill Resources

Read more information about our advocacy efforts.

admin-place January 7, 2022