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February 2021

Greetings.


Advocacy on a national, state and local level is at the core of our democracy. Working with our legislators to address and resolve issues for the common good is the goal. The 2021 legislative year has begun in D.C. and Montpelier.

In this edition, we provide direct links to each of your state representatives and senators. If you are not already acquainted, we recommend that you get to know about your legislator. Take some time to dig into their committee work as well as their interests. Invite them to learn about your work. Let them know you appreciate their care for Vermont's creative sector.
 
We also report about a conversation between the Windham County delegation and several southern Vermont creatives.

And, as always, we seek to provide resources and connections to the wider creative community in our Resources section.

Please continue to stay healthy, mask, wash those hands, vaccinate and remember that your creativity is our best advocacy,


Sincerely,
Robert McBride, Southern Zone coordinator
 

Southern Zone Leadership Team

Robert McBride, Bellows Falls, zone agent
Maria Basescu, Putney; Sara Coffey, Guilford; Anna Drozdowski, Wilmington; Zon Eastes, Guilford; Susanna Gellert, Weston; Sarah Lang, Brattleboro; Matthew Perry, Bennington; Jon Potter, Brattleboro

Newsletter drawings courtesy of Matthew Perry. Thanks, Matthew!
Glad you are reading! Click on the envelope to share this newsletter with your friends and colleagues! Glad you are reading! Click on the envelope to share this newsletter with your friends and colleagues!

The 2021 State Legislative Session

The Vermont State Legislature convened for the 2021 session on January 6, what turned out be an auspicious day in our country's history. Governor Phil Scott gave his third inaugural address on January 7. 

Your state representatives and senators are listed below. (The list is organized by county and multi-county.) You can learn more about your representatives by visiting this website. You can also follow the process for particular bills and topics, and, by clicking on a particular committee, you can even watch committee meetings.
 
Introduce yourself to your elected officials. Make it a practice to be in touch with them on a regular basis. invite them to cultural events in your area. Give them an opportunity to address your gatherings. Indeed our elected officials are busy, but, for them to understand that strength of Vermont's creative sector, they need to hear from you.

* denotes a newly elected representative

Nelson Brownell, nbrownell@leg.state.vt.us
Bennington 1 Rep, Nat. Resources, Fish and Wildlife, D
Timothy Corcoran II, tcorcoran@leg.state.vt.us
Bennington 2-1 Rep, Transportation; Canvassing, D
Dane Whitman*, dwhitman@leg.state.vt.us
Bennington 2-1 Rep, Human Services, D
Mary Morrissey, mmorrissey@leg.state.vt.us
Bennington 2-2 Rep, Corrections and Institutions, R
Michael Nigro*, mnigro@leg.state.vt.us
Bennington 2-2 Rep, Commerce and Economic Development, D
David Durfee, ddurfee@leg.state.vt.us
Bennington 3 Rep, Health care, D
Seth Bongartz*, sbongartz@leg.state.vt.us
Bennington 4 Rep, Nat. Resources, Fish and Wildlife, D
Kathleen James, kjames@leg.state.vt.us
Bennington 4 Rep, Education, D
Brian Campion, bcampion@leg.state.vt.us
Bennington District Senator, Ethics; Finance; Nat. Resources and energy; Legislative Info tech; Transition challenges; Act 250; Higher Ed, D
Dick Sears Jr, rsears@leg.state.vt.us
Bennington District Senator, Senator, Workforce develop; Appropriations; Judiciary; Fiscal; Child protection; Justice oversight; Judicial rules, D

Linda Joy Sullivan, lsullivan@leg.state.vt.us
Bennington-Rutland Rep, Correction and institutions; Judicial rules, D
Sally Achey, sachey@leg.state.vt.us
Rutland-Bennington Rep, Energy and tech, R
 
Sara Coffey, saracoffeyvt@gmail.com
Windham 1 Rep, Correction and institutions, D
Emilie Kornheiser, ekornheiser@leg.state.vt.us
Windham 2-1 Rep, Govt accountability; Ways and Means, D
Mollie Burke, mburke@leg.state.vt.us
Windham 2-2 Rep, Transportation; Sexual Harassment Prevention; Legislative Women’s Caucus, P
Tristan Toleno, ttoleno@leg.state.vt.us
Windham 2-3 Rep, Workforce development; Appropriations, D
Leslie Goldman*, lgoldman@leg.state.vt.us
Windham 3 Rep, Health Care, D
Carolyn Partridge, cpartridge@leg.state.vt.us
Windham 3 Rep, Agriculture and forestry; Wetlands, D
Michelle Bos-Lun*, mboslun@leg.state.vt.us
Windham 4 Rep, Corrections and Institutions, D
Michael Mrowicki, mmrowicki@leg.state.vt.us
Windham 4 Rep, Govt operations; sexual harassment prevention; Adverse childhood experiences, D
Emily Long, elong@leg.state.vt.us
Windham 5 Rep,  House rules and joint rules, D
John Gannon, jgannon@leg.state.vt.us
Windham 6 Rep, Sunset advisory; Govt operations; Ethics, D
Becca Balint, bbalint@leg.state.vt.us
Windham District Senator, Econ.Develop.;Housing and General; Finance; Rules; Sex.Harassment; Adverse childhood exp; PEG access, D
Jeanette White, jwhite@leg.state.vt.us
Windham District Senator, Senator, Govt.Ops; Judiciary; Public records; Sunset advisory, D

Laura Sibilia, lsibilia@leg.state.vt.us
Windham-Bennington Rep, Energy and tech; Ethics; Technology oversight, I
Kelly Pajala, kpajala@leg.state.vt.us
Windham-Bennington-Windsor Rep, Human services; Discrimination prevention; Joint Leg. Child Protection Oversight, I

Creative Network Voices Meet with Windham County Legislative Delegation


In December, the Windham County Legislative delegation conducted ‘Office Hours’ in preparation for the recent opening of the legislature. The Southern Zone of the Vermont Creative Network was invited to a session, as were nearly 20 other Windham County organizations. 

Robert McBride, lead for the Southern Vermont Zone, organized the December 17 opportunity. Legislators heard from nine presenters—individuals and organizational representatives on a range of specific to general topics (like COVID impacts on viability to broadband and housing). 

The 50-minute session opened with an overview of the Vermont Creative Network from Amy Cunningham, Deputy Director at the Vermont Arts Council. Amy spoke about the Council’s outsized COVID response (greatly increased numbers of grants awarded, some in collaboration with funding organizations like the Vermont Humanities and the Vermont Community Foundation, and what we might expect going forward in the new administration. 

Representing Windham county organizations, presenters included Robert McBride, Rockingham Museum and Arts Project; Jon Potter, Latchis Theatre; Susannah Gellert, Weston Playhouse; and Keith Marks, Next Stage Project. Representing the spectrum of individuals at work in the culture sector, presenters included landscape designer Julie Moir Messervy of Saxtons River; artist Charlie Hunter of Bellows Falls; arts and culture advocate Zon Eastes of Guilford; and documentary filmmaker Mike Henaghan of Wilmington. 

Legislators heard stories, illustrations, even exhortations about pressing needs, and very real opportunities for successful engagement post-COVID. A key point made by all: the creative sector plays a decisive, central role in the health of our communities, so we are ready to collaborate as a steady resource for legislators, both in local communities and in the ‘virtual’ statehouse. 

We in Windham County can count ourselves lucky that, in addition to ‘getting it’ about the creative sector, our elected officials see the wisdom of collective coordination and collaboration. Hats off to our delegation for organizing these Office Hours! 

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Vermont Creative Network News


Vermont Arts Council Director's Update 
 
Dear Friends,

2021 opens with a momentous transition in political leadership and the first phase of COVID vaccinations across the country, bringing hope to millions of people. While we know that the nation – and our arts and culture sector – face grave challenges, “there is always light,” as we were reminded yesterday by National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman.

On the federal government level, there is good news with regard to funding the federal cultural agencies. In the appropriations bill passed in December, Congress increased the budgets of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities slightly, from their current budgets of $162.25 million each to $167.5 million.

National arts advocacy organizations will continue to push to increase those allocations. For now, it’s heartening to note that there was bipartisan support in Congress for the NEA and the NEH, despite the former President’s repeated calls for their elimination.

The Biden administration is expected to move quickly to address mounting economic losses from the COVID pandemic, which we hope will include relief for the arts. The December aid package (the Consolidated Appropriations Act, or “CAA”) included two programs that promise to deliver urgently-needed relief to arts businesses and nonprofit organizations. The Act authorizes additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program. It also includes a new $15 billion grant program called Shuttered Venue Operator Grants – also known as “Save Our Stages” -- to provide aid to struggling live performance venues. The grants will offer a lifeline for the nation’s performing arts venues, movie theatres and museums.

Both the National Assembly for State Arts Agencies and Americans for the Arts are already meeting with legislators and representatives from the Biden team to map out key priorities for the coming year. We will keep our readers posted about any advocacy campaigns that are forthcoming from these national advocacy partners.

Locally, in Vermont, it’s clear that there are pressing economic needs in the arts and culture realm that will continue at least through 2021. We are actively exploring ways to address those needs, and with the energies and input from many stakeholders in the Vermont Creative Network, we have developed an action framework for advancing the creative sector and its role in Vermont’s future. We will continue to focus on convening, engaging, and amplifying the power and potential of our state’s creative economy; supporting diverse creative talents and voices; and finding ways for the arts to help us all to heal and rebound from the pandemic.

Our top priorities are as follows:
  • Equipping artists and cultural organizations with tools to navigate the various COVID relief programs and requirements on the federal and state levels;
  • Ensuring that artists and cultural organizations are considered when COVID relief packages are developed;
  • Supporting individual artists (especially to develop the skills and financial strategies that will put their creative businesses on firmer footing);
  • Providing cultural organizations with the resources, equipment, and training they need to adapt to COVID and beyond; and
  • Advocating for the powerful role the arts must play to help Vermont communities to heal, recover, and revitalize our downtowns.
Reflecting these priorities, we are joining with other public and private funders to invest in Better Places (a community place-making initiative); we are supporting additional Artist Development Grants; and we are keeping the field informed and up to date on COVID resources and funding opportunities through webinars and the Arts Council’s COVID webpages.

I know you share my belief that the arts --and the gifts of creativity, joy, and compassion that they bring-- are essential to envisioning a hopeful and just future for Vermont. As our communities weather the next phase of the pandemic, we know that the creative sector will be at the heart of community recovery and re-opening. I look forward to working with you all to support, advocate for, and tell the stories of the amazing artists and cultural organizations across our state.

With appreciation,
Karen S. Mittelman
Executive Director
Vermont Arts Council

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Safe Outdoor Venues in Vermont

From the recent phone conference sponsored by the VT State Parks and the Vermont Arts Council, in response to the ongoing pandemic. Speakers from the VT Agency of Commerce & Community Development (ACCD), VT State Parks, VT Arts Council, and Montpelier Alive. Meeting Recording Link

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Report: Creative Economies and Economic Recovery

As many look expectantly toward a post-COVID-19-pandemic environment in the United States, our state and regional economies struggle to recover from a pandemic-induced recession. As we enter 2021, even areas that managed to rebound from prior economic crises are facing record-breaking unemployment, business closures, income losses and looming questions about how to reconstruct societal cohesion.
 
The arts and creative industries offer a powerful source of light for states and localities aiming to reignite economic growth. A recent report, Creative Economies and Economic Recovery, was produced by the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF). It highlights current work in eleven states, Vermont included. A shout out to creative efforts in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom (page 59).


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Sign up for the VCN Newsletter :: News from Outside the Box

If you are not yet connected to the state's creative network, we recommend that you sign up for News from Outside the Box, the Vermont Creative Network newsletter. Sign up here

Find our more about the Vermont Creative Network.

 

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Sign up for Common Ground, a powerful connection resource for New England

We encourage every Vermont creative to learn about Creative Ground and get listed. What can you do at Creative Ground: promote yourself with targeted webspace; find potential collaborators and supporters. Sign up here

Find out more about Creative Ground.

Glad you are reading! Click on the envelope to share this newsletter with your friends and colleagues! Glad you are reading! Click on the envelope to share this newsletter with your friends and colleagues!

Resources

From NEFA

COVID-19 Resources
 
As the COVID-19 public health crisis prolongs, NEFA continues to assemble resources – Federal relief, grants, reimagining the sector, social justice and inclusion, and more - to share with the arts and culture sector.

Visit nefa.org/covid-19 for more.
 
$2.3 trillion spending bill (H.R. 133) includes $900 billion in Pandemic Relief. Signed into law on December 27, 2020, the latest pandemic relief funding includes several items of interest to the creative sector. Major highlights include:
  • Extension of Federal Pandemic Unemployment programs with an extra $300 per week for 11 weeks; consult your state’s Unemployment Office
  • Funding for forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans through the Small Business Administration; application deadline March 31, 2021
  • $15 Billion for Save our Stages grants for “shuttered venue operators,” which will operate through the Small Business Administration; note that any entity receiving a Save our Stages grant may not receive a second PPP loan.
  • Appropriation of $167.5 million each to the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities, an increase of $5.2 million for each agency.
Upcoming Deadlines

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been changes to many of our grant opportunities. Please visit the grant pages to learn more: Rolling Deadlines  

Save the Date

for the VIRTUAL 4th Annual Southern Vermont Economy Summit
 
The Fourth Annual Southern Vermont Economy Summit will be held virtually May 12th-14th, 2021. The Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation and Bennington County Regional Commission/Bennington County Industrial Corporation co-sponsor the event on behalf of the Southern Vermont Economic Development Zone, and as part of the Southern Vermont Economy Project which helps build capacity, expertise, and resources within the Zone.
 
Like many organizations we had to cancel our biggest annual event, the 2020 Summit, due to COVID19. We did not want to go another year without bringing our community together around issues of economic and community development, especially given the post-pandemic recovery which lies ahead. \

The Summit will feature keynote speakers to inform our economic recovery from the pandemic by looking at business trends, the critical role of demographics and diversity in economic health, and models for communities to revitalize themselves. There will be workshop sessions focused on small business development, community development, and a New-to-Vermont lunch series. ... read more
 
More information at www.SoVermontZone.com/Summit
Or contact Sarah Lang, slang@brattleborodevelopment.com


Ongoing Links


Vermont Arts Council
Vermont Humanities
New England Foundation for the Arts 
Americans for the Arts
National Endowment for the Arts 
Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development
Bennington County Regional Commission 
Bennington County Industrial Corporation 
Windham Regional Commission 
WIndham Region Broadband Project
Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation 

creativity. connections.

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