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Arts and Cultural Center

      We saw on Page 1 that "everybody wants an Art Center" in Franklin County, perhaps in St. Albans City. Arts and Cultural Center planning for St. Albans City began at the Creative Economy forums last Spring. Several groups have lent volunteers to a steering committee that is right now examining all the roles such an establishment can fill. The steering committee includes board members from the All Arts Council, the St Albans Artists' Guild, and St. Albans for the Future, as well as members of the Bishop Street Artists and other interested groups, a newspaper reporter, and other individuals.
      The Arts and Cultural Center planning is not a project of any one organization but rather is a community effort.
      How we got here: The Vermont Council on Rural Development led three creative economy forums earlier this year. The idea to build an arts center emerged during brainstorming sessions from each of those meetings and survived a winnowing process that reduced the number of "great projects" to a manageable four.
      Initial thinking: The steering committee agreed it first needed to define an Arts and Cultural Center.
      Assistant City Manager Liz Gamache of St. Albans asked, "Does 'build an arts center' indicate actual construction, or using existing space to create one?" That question sparked a change in thinking as "build" changed to "create an arts center" to leave options more open.
      The committee initially discussed visions for an Arts and Cultural Center. Most people, when asked, believe a Center must be a single, probably very large, building. While that may be true, we need to remember that Community College succeeds without such a single, very large, building; CCV has small spaces in many towns and rents or borrows classroom spaces as needed. Likewise many successful businesses today allow some employees to work from home while others have desks in small clusters around the world.
      What Does an Arts and Cultural Center Really Do? Mike Curtis asked the group to find the common themes in everyone's visions. This look at common needs led the group to consider what actual functions the Art and Cultural Center would perform. Our Functional Analysis allowed the committee to focus on what the Center will do, rather than how the Center will do it.
      The initial functions:
  • Make the Center Accessible
  • Offer Business Services
  • Create Demand
  • Educate Artists and the Public
  • Entertain
  • Exhibit Art
  • Host Gatherings
  • Incubate Arts Businesses
  • Inspire Artists and the Public
  • Mentor Artists
  • Host Performances
  • Studio work
  • Make it Sustainable
  • Make it Visible
     Page 3 will report on how the steering committee "fleshed out" the function list. Upcoming pages will show a road trip to some southern arts centers and galleries.



All Arts Council of Franklin County

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Dick Harper, Chair
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Highgate Springs, VT 05460
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