Vermont Arts Council

2018 Convening

A Convening to connect the Network’s steering and zone leadership teams took place Oct. 18, 2018, at the Chandler Center for the Arts in Randolph.



9  coffee and networking

10 welcome and opening remarks, including a poetry reading by Major Jackson

10:30 The NEK Creative Economy Study: What have we learned?

11 plenary speaker Leonardo Vazquez, founder and director of the National Consortium for Creative Placemaking

“Creative Placemaking: leading from the middle out”

In communities, the more you try to control, the less power you have. This is the irony of trying to achieve sustainable positive change in our towns and neighborhoods. Learn how arts and artists can play a special and distinct role in leading change through creative placemaking.

afternoon | workshops and work sessions

12:15 lunch

1:15 – 2:30 workshops

  • Continuing the Creative Placemaking Discussion with Leo Vazquez
  • Creating a Culture of Clean Water: The Alchemy of Art and Science
    Barry Lampke, Vermont Clean Water Network
  • Planning for the Statewide Creative Economy Study
    Jody Fried, Catamount Arts; Michael Kane, Creative Economy Researcher; Melissa Levy, Community Roots LLC
  • Using CreativeGround and Other NEFA Resources
    Dee Schneidman, New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA)

2:45 – 4 VCN task force work groups

  • Identity
  • Infrastructure
  • Investment

Workshop Descriptions

Continuing the Creative Placemaking Conversation

Leonardo Vazquez will inspire you with his morning address. Take the opportunity to join Leo and your Network fellows in further discussion about leading change.

Creating a Culture of Clean Water: The Alchemy of Art and Science

Our lakes, rivers, streams, and ponds sustain us. They also face daunting challenges because of the ways we have shaped our communities and the land. How can artists, cultural leaders, and scientists partner to communicate the value of clean water? Join a discussion with Barry Lampke. Share your ideas for art and science collaboration, and learn about Vermont Clean Water Network’s opportunities for new partnerships.

Planning for the Statewide Creative Economy Study

The Northeast Kingdom (NEK) zone is on the verge of completing their Creative Economy Study and Action Plan. This project was conceived as a pilot, with the intention of a similar statewide study and action plan to follow. Join project consultants Michael Kane and Melissa Levy and NEK zone agent Jody Fried to learn more about the process of this work and to discuss the ways the zones can begin to prepare for success of the statewide project.

Using CreativeGround and Other NEFA resources

Artists, cultural nonprofits, creative businesses, and other players in New England’s creative economy all benefit from connection to each other. Join Dee Schneidman of the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) to learn how to access these resources. This session will include a discussion of CreativeGround — NEFA’s free online directory that spotlights the rich range of creative people and places in New England — and how it might support your local creative community more effectively. Dee will also share tips on NEFA’s grants and how you can participate in the upcoming Creative Communities Exchange (CCX) event to be held in Montpelier in June 2019.


Jody Fried has led Catamount Film and Arts in St. Johnsbury since 2009. Under his leadership, the organization has become a vibrant community arts center with partners reaching through Vermont and into New Hampshire. Jody is also the chair of the Vermont Creative Network and has served on the boards of the Northeast Kingdom Collaborative, Northeast Kingdom Community Action, the Northeast Kingdom Travel and Tourism Association, and the Burke Area Chamber of Commerce. He was the recipient of the Vermont Arts Council’s Arthur Williams Award for Meritorious Service to the Arts in 2014.

Major Jackson was born and raised in Philadelphia, where he pursued his degree in accounting at Temple University. He is the author of four collections of poetry: “Roll Deep,” “Holding Company,” “Hoops,” and “Leaving Saturn” as well as the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, the Pushcart Prize, and a Whiting Writers’ Award. He has been honored by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pew Fellowship in the Arts, and the Witter Bynner Foundation in conjunction with the Library of Congress. Major lives in South Burlington, where he is the Richard Dennis Green and Gold Professor at the University of Vermont. He serves on the board of the Vermont Arts Council.

Michael Kane is part of a team that helped define and position the creative economy as an economic development asset throughout the country. Michael, along with Stuart Rosenfeld and Beth Siegel, has been a project director and/or lead consultant on creative economy studies for states (Arkansas, Colorado, North Carolina, Mississippi, Montana, Louisiana and for the New England states), regions (the Piedmont Triad in North Carolina, the Berkshires in Massachusetts, northeastern Wyoming, and southeastern Wisconsin), and metro areas (including Birmingham, Alabama; Washington, D.C.; New York City; and Tucson, Arizona). He has worked on four major projects in Vermont, including the NEK creative economy study and plan which is now in progress.

Barry Lampke is the organization coordinator for the Vermont Clean Water Network Project, which is housed at ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain. This network of more than 100 organizations is dedicated to creating a culture of clean water. Barry was previously the development and communications director for Smart Growth Vermont, executive director of the Association of Vermont Recyclers, and marketing project manager for the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation.

Melissa Levy is part of the team completing the NEK creative economy study and plan. She is the principal of Community Roots, LLC, a woman-owned consulting firm specializing in rural economic and community development in sectors including the arts, tourism, and natural resource-based industries. She has worked closely with state and local governments, nonprofit organizations, foundations, and businesses. Her expertise lies in economic research, research around wealth creation value chains, and the design and facilitation of workshops and trainings.

Dee Schneidman is the program director for research and creative economy at the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA). She oversees data collection, documentation, and creative economy activities at NEFA. These include the New England Creative Economy Reports, CreativeGround, regional events such as the Creative Communities Exchange (CCX), knowledge-sharing projects, and NEFA program evaluation.

Leonardo Vazquez is a national award-winning planner and leader in two emerging fields in urban planning: creative placemaking and cultural competency. He has worked with a variety of communities in New Jersey, California, Connecticut, Louisiana, New York, and Pennsylvania. In addition to his affiliation with the National Consortium for Creative Placemaking, Leonardo Vazquez is a senior associate at the Nishuane Group and a lecturer at Ohio State University. He is the author of “Leading from the Middle: Strategic Thinking for Urban Planning and Community Development Professionals” and co-editor of “Diálogos: Placemaking in Latino Communities.” In 2012 he received the American Planning Association National Leadership Award for Advancing Diversity and Social Justice in Honor of Paul Davidoff.

admin-place July 3, 2019
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