Thursday evening at the Monitor Barn on Route 2 in Richmond. I must pass by this place three or four times a week on the way home. Last night I had a good reason to stop.
Word had gotten around recently that a meeting was going to be happening last night in the Barn. Via friends, via the local Front Porch Forum, you know – the way things always make the rounds in rural communities like most of those in Vermont. The Richmond Area Business Association (RABA) and the Richmond Economic Development Committee had organized the symposium, to give arts presenters and organizations in the Richmond, Huntington and Bolton areas an opportunity to get together with area citizens and talk about their common ground. Turns out there’s quite a bit, in challenges – successes – and ideas for how to move forward.
On the “challenges” side, problems like volunteer burnout, funding, fulfillment of mission, overextension, and limited resources of all kinds all came up during the conversation. Pretty familiar themes for anyone organizing events. But along with the down side of these things, there was also acknowledgment of the creativity, vision and talent that drives the events along with a widespread interest among the group in pulling our events together in some centralized, organized way.
After an inspiring set of Scottish music from the Highland Weavers, representatives from Celtic First Night, Huntington Valley Arts, Valley Stage, and The Minor Key gave presentations describing their organizatinon’s mission and outreach programs, and talking a bit about the challenges they face.
By the end of the night several large sheets of paper containing our brainstorming ideas were draped dramatically over the chairs and instrument stands at the front of the meeting. Sculpturally, almost, one could say.
Next the notes will be organized and screened for common themes. They’ll be sent out to everyone who attended the meeting, and then we’ll get together again to review them and begin identifying a process and next steps to get us to a more unified place.
Funding and promoting the arts has never been easy, straightforward or even a ‘given’ in our world. It’s always a struggle – but as artists, our work is better for that need and ability to continually evolve, respond, and interpret according to the changing circumstances of our times.
Stay tuned for more news from the Richmond/Huntington/Bolton arts coalition. We don’t have a name yet, but it won’t be long now.