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The Vermont Arts Council announces new grants to revive the state's creative sector

A man and a child walking out of a colorfully painted Ice Shanty
Vermont Arts Council
Participants pose during the 2021 Artful Ice Shanties Design-Build Competition held at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center.

After a pandemic downturn, the Vermont Arts Council has announced a series of new grants to revive the Vermont creative sector.

The smorgasbord of programs is intended to support artists and arts organizations across Vermont that were hit in the pocketbooks due to the pandemic. Grants are funded with COVID relief dollars appropriated during the 2022 state legislative session.

“We have a few programs open," council spokesperson Catherine Crawley said. "The most important [and] largest one is the $9 million Creative Futures Grant Program, which provides awards up to $200,000 to cultural nonprofits and creative businesses throughout Vermont."

She says this program is open to all members of the creative sector. Applications will be judged on a number of factors, from pandemic-related harm to cultural and economic impact.

“Hopefully we'll be getting a lot of applications for this program. We have $9 million to give away. And this is for nonprofits and for-profits, which is something that's a little bit different for the Vermont Arts Council, helping to fund for profit businesses,” Crawley said.

Awards can be used to support regular expenses, including payroll and benefits, utilities and rent.

The first round of applications closes Nov. 1.

More from Vermont Public: Outgoing leader of Vermont Arts Council says arts groups are facing a 'real financial cliff'

Another grant program will support the creation of arts programs for Vermonters 60 years or old.

The Creative Aging Grants is designed to provide skill-based instruction by an artist to foster social interaction and build community. Potential offerings include a photography workshop in an assisted-living facility, or a remote workshop for older adults in their homes.

Applicants may submit proposals for projects through the council’s website. Proposals led by Vermont-based artists will be given priority. The application is open until Nov. 1.

Meanwhile, 25 local artists have been awarded a Creation Grant, the council’s most coveted award. The organization received a record number of applications this year.

The $4,000 grants will support a range of projects, including a cyanotype exhibit of Lake Champlain, a marionette performance exploring the notion of liberty and a documentary focused on immigrant dairy farm workers in Vermont.

“Knowing that Vermont is a state that invests in its artists and recognizing that creativity, our cultural organizations are so important and are really sort of critical infrastructure for our small towns and villages across the state,” Crawley said.

Finally, nearly two dozen nonprofits, municipalities and schools were awarded more than $200,000 in Arts Impact Grants, which are intended to expand access to the arts.

Related projects include a therapeutic theater program for children, an international music residency workshop and a youth-led storytelling performance focused on the narratives of African refugees.

While the nationwide search for the council's next executive director is ongoing, the organization continues to roll out grants to help revive the creative economy. Deputy Director Amy Cunningham will serve as interim executive director starting in November.

Corrected: September 29, 2022 at 12:15 PM EDT
Deputy Director Amy Cunningham will serve as interim executive director starting in November.
Marlon Hyde was Vermont Public’s first news fellow, from 2021 to 2023.
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