State of the Arts: What’s the future for the arts in Southern Vermont?
Jan28

State of the Arts: What’s the future for the arts in Southern Vermont?

By Joyce Marcel Vermont, once famous for its cows, is now becoming famous for its culture. How big can a rural art economy get? Having taken a big hit in 2008, Southern Vermont’s arts organizations believe they’re riding a creative economy that grows stronger every year. Over the past 10 years, economic growth has also spiraled upward as many organizations—Brattleboro Music Center and New England Center for Circus Arts in Brattleboro, Weston Theatre in Weston, Next Stage Arts Project in Putney, and Main Street Arts in Saxtons River, for example—expand by building new plants or rehabbing older ones. Southern Vermont is literally littered with artists. In this small area, consisting of two counties, Windham and Bennington, plus a smidgen of southern Windsor, there are about 300 arts-related businesses that employ nearly 1,200 people according to a 2017 Americans For the Arts survey based on data from Dun & Bradstreet. That means 178 arts-related businesses employing 411 people in Windham County and 122 arts-related businesses employing 792 people in Bennington. Not all businesses register with Dun & Bradstreet, so these figures are seriously under-reported, warns Americans for the Arts, which adds, “particularly those that are nonprofit arts organizations and individual artists. The data in this report, therefore, are an undercount.” A quick snapshot of the region’s artistic health can be found by looking at how the cash flows. Bennington Museum, for example, has a budget of approximately $900,000. Last year’s operating budget for the Weston Playhouse was $2.2 million; for the 2018 season, they expect to see that rise by “several hundred thousand more,” according to producing director Steve Stettler. In Brattleboro, the Brattleboro Museum and Arts Center (BMAC) spends close to $600,000 a year. The BMC has a budget that is roughly $630,000 a year. Next Stage in Putney has a budget of about $250,000 a year. Next door, the internationally renowned Sandglass Theater reports earnings of $200,000. The Dorset Theater Festival has an operating budget of $800,000. The cultural economy supports artists, true, but it also supports gallerists, bookkeepers, accountants, and attorneys. It supports supermarkets, restaurants and shops. It finds its way into the hardware stores, shoe stores, B&Bs, gas stations, propane dealers, carpenters, contractors, health clubs, framing shops, insurance companies, truckers, auto repair shops, caterers and a host of other local businesses. Bricks and mortar “About 150 years ago, it was common enough for Vermont communities to construct cultural buildings, funded publicly and privately,” said Zon Eastes, a cellist and conductor who is the former director of outreach and advancement for the Vermont Arts Council. “Many are still in use. Today there is a similar, but different...

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One great little magazine — that’s what they tell us!
Jan28

One great little magazine — that’s what they tell us!

When you flip through [SO Vermont Arts & Living], you just sit back in awe while realizing the sheer amount of things related to the arts going on in the Southern half of the state that you were completely unaware of. Anyone picking up that magazine…tourist or native, will not help but be affected. That’s the power of working together in the arts community and keeping people abreast of what’s going on.                         —Alex Aldrich, former executive director, Vermont Arts Council It feels good. Ten years ago, after the demise of the state program I had been facilitating to promote Southern Vermont, I was inspired and driven to start a culturally-oriented magazine that would focus on the under recognized region that we all love—Southern Vermont. As a marketing and public relations specialist with little or no experience in publishing, this move really was a leap of faith. Thanks to wonderful first-issue advertisers, a lineup of seasoned writers, and a superb design director, Marjorie Merena, we embarked on a publishing adventure. I still remember those late nights at Marjorie’s house drinking wine and kerning text on the pages. Actually, I was the one drinking while Marjorie was kerning, but both of us were frantic to meet our printer’s deadline. We are so grateful to Jeff Potter, Martin Langeveld, and Jerry Goldberg, who have had a transformative influence on the magazine over the past decade. Our calendar editor, Eric Pero, and our production associates, John Snyder and Margaret Shipman, round out the SO Vermont Arts & Living team. Over the years, a host of seasoned professionals have penned our stories, including Joyce Marcel, Elayne Clift, Anita Rafael, Jon Potter, Kevin O’Connor, Ann C. Landenberger, Clara Rose Thornton, Arlene Distler, Susan Smallheer, Meg Brazill, Katherine P. Cox, Nicole Colson, Stacey Kors, Troy Shaheen, and Marty Ramsburg. All are experts on various aspects of the arts and their impact on the local economy and local culture. Such a visual magazine relies on the participation of local photographers and, while I take many of the photos in the magazine, we count on professional local photographers, including Jason Henske, Zachary Stevens, Jeff Lewis, and John Nopper. The Commons unstintingly shares its own newspaper photo archive, especially the work of Randolph T. Holhut. Countless museums, galleries, artists, businesses, and nonprofits have shared their images with us over the years so we can tell colorful stories in full context. And we thank all those who have contributed commentary to our Talk of the Arts column, including Tom Slayton, Steve Stettler, Ellen McCulloch-Lovell, Lars Hasselblad Torres, Robert...

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Talk of the Arts: Why we’re ‘Vermont strong’
Jan28

Talk of the Arts: Why we’re ‘Vermont strong’

We are a small state and we deal with each other one on one. The scale is more manageable. We know each other personally, and that makes a difference. By Carolyn Partridge There’s something special for me about this time of year. We just celebrated the holiday season and the new year and things, one hopes, are quieting down a little—except for those of us who serve in the Legislature. Now is when things get going! But, back to the holidays — specifically, Thanksgiving. Several years ago, I started a daily, personal practice of giving thanks for my life’s blessings. There are the obvious: a supportive husband of 32 years who does the barn chores and holds down the fort while I’m in Montpelier for the winter; three wonderful sons who all have fantastic partners with whom to share their lives; and, yes, three grandchildren who are the lights of my life. They’re bundles of energy and spark and brightness. And then there’s the thing that I keep coming back to again and again: my deep thankfulness that I live in Vermont. I chose to live in Vermont 45 years ago, so I will never be considered a native even though my third great-grandmother, Hannah Purdy, was born in Manchester. It doesn’t matter; this is my home and I am thankful for it. My roots are here and two of my three sons have made it back to Vermont after college elsewhere. The third would like to return as well. So what is it about Vermont that exerts such a strong hold on me? It’s not an easy place to live, though with climate change it may have gotten a little easier. It used to be that we could expect a frost any time after mid August; this year my first frost came mid October. Believe it or not, I’ve been experimenting with growing cotton and have even got a couple of immature bolls this year. When I moved here in 1972, I found people occasionally a little standoffish. I had a bachelor’s degree in oceanography but the jobs in that field, mostly in defense, dried up when the Vietnam War ended. It was kismet that brought me to Vermont. I knew how to do two things that proved valuable: I could cook and sew—thanks Mom—so I made a living as a stitcher at Toni Totes in Londonderry and Flamstead in Chester and later worked in restaurants as a cook and waitress. I found that if I worked hard and made my way, I gained my neighbors’ respect. There was a sort of fairness there. More recently, I watched...

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At the museums
Jan28

At the museums

Bennington Center for the Arts 44 Gypsy Lane, Bennington 10a–5p, Mon–Sun (Closed Mon) http://www.thebennington.org, 802 442-7158 Ongoing: Exhibitions by many of the country’s most prestigious groups, along with artists chosen to participate in shows that we annually curate, have given the Bennington a reputation of a venue that exhibits only world-class art in an elegant, state-of-the-art facility. At the Covered Bridge Museum, discover the history and legends of covered bridges in the world’s only museum dedicated to their preservation. Also see a variety of wind sculptures, some up to 27 feet tall. Bennington Museum 75 Main St., Route 9, Bennington 10a–5p (Closed Wed) http://www.benningtonmuseum.org, 802 477-1571 Feb 1 – May 28: “Enthusiasm: Personal Paintings by Jessica Park.” Feb 1–March 13: Annual Student Art Exhibition. Bringing artwork of the region’s elementary, middle and high school students in a display ranging from whimsical to more advanced works of art. Sept 1–Oct 8: 1863 Jane Stickle Quilt. Ongoing: Gilded Age Vermont, Grandma Moses, Bennington Modernism, Grandma Moses Schoolhouse, Early Vermont Gallery, and more. Brattleboro Museum & Art Center 10 Vernon St., Brattleboro 11a–5p (Closed Tues) http://www.brattleboromuseum.org, 802 257-0124 Thru Feb 11: Touchstones, Totems, Talismans: Animals in Contemporary Art. Ask the beasts and they will teach you the beauty of this earth. Inspired by Francis of Assisi. Thru March 10: The Scarf: Joan O’Beirne. Bright orange industrial extension cords are the basis of an ongoing series of works by Joan O’Beirne. The Scarf is composed of photographs, video, sculpture, and a performance. Thru April 17: Weighted Tears: Mary Admasian. Created for outdoor exhibition at BMAC with the support of a partial grant from the Arts Endowment Fund of the Vermont Community Foundation. March 17–June 17: Hereandafter: Susan von Glahn Calabria. Inspired by small assemblages of natural objects, patterns, and photographs, these detailed gouaches span 25 years and explore ideas around the permanence of things and the impermanence of being. March 17–June 17: Bottle in the River: Richard Klein. Sculptures incorporating found bottles and other vessels allude to the passage of time and the disposable nature of material culture. Thru March 10: OPEN CALL NXNE 2018. BMAC’s latest juried exhibit features work by 22 artists selected by juror Sique Spence, director of New York’s Nancy Hoffman Gallery. Feb 17–March 10: 2018 Vermont Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Calling Vermont Teens! The Scholastic Art and Writing awards submission deadline is just around the corner. The Clark Art Institute 225 South St., Williamstown, Mass. 10a–5p, Tuesday thru Sunday http://www.clarkart.edu, 413 458-2303 Feb 3–April 22: Drawn to Greatness: Master Drawings from the Thaw Collection. Features 150 exceptional drawings from the Eugene V. Thaw Collection, one of the...

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At the galleries
Jan28

At the galleries

Arts Council of Windham County 118 Elliot St., Brattleboro All events start at 6p. For tickets and more information, visit http://www.acwc.us ACWC is an organization of artists for artists. Board Trustee Sarah Bowen and former Board President Shanta Lee Gander have collaborated to plan a series of forums at 118 Elliott St. for the spring of 2018: Nourishing the Inner Artist: Conversations on Art and Creativity. The series plans to provide a menu of five programs that will give individuals the opportunity to consider foundational questions as they relate to creative expression in the studio, the community, and the world. All are welcome. ACWS hopes to address concerns of professional artists while demystifying the concept that creativity is for the chosen few. Thursday, March 8: “Re-enchantment and Our Inner Child: Materials and Process”:E xplores tapping into our inner children through re-enchantment with the everyday items that surround us. March 22: “A Room of One’s Own: The Creation of Inner Space”: Explore the creation of the creative space within ourselves. Thursday, April 5: “Sources of Inspiration: Creative Lineage”: Who are the members of your artistic family? Explore the spectrum of artistic lineage and what inspires us. Thursday, April 19: “Art and Transformation”: Explores art and transformation through the lens of inner worlds. Thursday, May 3: “Creative Collaborations and Fruitful Connections”: Explores words of wisdom or lessons learned regarding artistic collaborations. Special event: Voices: Friday, April 6: Explores a vibrant mix of sounds, images and words as presented by artists throughout the region. Hosted by Shanta Lee Gander. 7:30–8:45p, Hooker-Dunham Theater & Gallery, 139 Main St., Brattleboro. Crowell Gallery 23 West St., Newfane Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday: 1–5p; Thursday: 2–7p; Saturday: 10a–1p http://www.moorefreelibrary.wordpress.com/crowell-gallery, 802 365-7948 The Crowell Art Gallery, accessed through the Moore Free Library, showcases the incredible talent and diversity of artists in our local communities. Thru February: The library exhibits its permanent collection of works by Southern Vermont artists, purchased and selected by Robert and Muriel Crowell. Each month thereafter features a different exhibitor, usually with an opening reception. Gallery 2 and Vermont Artisan Designs 106 Main St, Brattleboro 10a–7p Mon-Sat, 11a–4p Sun http://www.buyvermontart.com, 802 257-7044 Features fine art and hand-crafted gifts. You’ll also find sculptures, and the works of more than 350 American craftspeople are on display. Unique jewelry, blown glass, pottery, wrought iron, pewter, turned wood, jewelry boxes, clocks, chimes and the famed Vermont Folk Rocker, are just some of the hard-to-find items available. This unusual gallery has graced Brattleboro for more than 35 years. Gallery North Star 151 Townshend Road, Grafton 10a–5p daily (Tuesday by chance) http://www.gnsgrafton.com, 802 843-2465 Feb 10–March 11: Solo show for Julie Y...

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Music & Theater
Jan28

Music & Theater

Brattleboro Music Center 38 Walnut St., Brattleboro http://www.bmcvt.org, 802 257-4523 Jan 20–21: BMC Concert Choir Presents Jenkins’ “Requiem” and Lauridsen’s “Lux Aeterna,” 7:30p. Jan 27: Northern Roots Festival, noon–10p. Drawing on Brattleboro’s rich local scene as well as colleagues from across New England, Northern Roots presents the highest caliber of Irish, Scottish, Scandinavian and French Canadian music in intimate settings. Feb 11: Windham Orchestra: Russia, 3p, at Latchis Theatre. Feb 23: BMC Chamber Choir Series, “Sophie and Friends,” 7:30p. Welcoming Sophie Shao, a versatile and passionate artist, and winner of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant and other top prizes. March 25: BMC Faculty Recital: Chonghyo Shin, 3p. April 8: Windham Orchestra: Beethoven & Brahms, 3p, at Latchis Theatre. April 13-15: Blanche Moyse Chorale: Reflections on the Passage of Time. See website for times/locations. April 20: Windscape Chamber Series, 7:30p, featuring five eminent wind soloists. May 9: BMC Chamber Music Series: Music of Brahms, 7:30p. May 11 & 13: Windham Orchestra: Potpourri, 7p Friday, 3p Sunday. May 19–20: Concert choir: Poulenc and Mozart. New England Youth Theater 100 Flat St., Brattleboro http://www.neyt.org, 802 246-6398 Feb 9–11 and 16–18: Robin Hood. Join Robin and his merry band in Sherwood Forest as they rob the rich and give to the poor. There will be deer hunting with bows and arrows while making the Sheriff of Nottingham suffer for his evil ways. Next Stage Arts 15 Kimball Hill Road, Putney http://www.nextstagearts.org Feb 10: Christine Ohlman & Rebel Montez, rock and roll concert/dance party, 7:30p. March 10: Claudia Schmidt CD Release Show, combining lively folk, jazz and blues with rich poetry and playful humor, 7:30p. March 17: Bold Women, Brazen Acts: A Staged Reading with Open Mic, 7:30p. April 14: Patty Larkin CD Release Show, featuring singer/songwriter American folk artist, 7:30p. Ongoing: Check website for upcoming concerts throughout the winter. Next Stage theater is a newly renovated performing arts facility in Putney. We celebrate the diversity of artistic expression by fostering a collaborative environment for audiences, performers, and community based arts and educational organizations, and we are committed to enhancing the village of Putney as a cultural center. Oldcastle Theatre Company 331 Main St., Bennington http://www.oldcastletheatre.org, 802 447-0564 Jan 19: Film: “Dog Days of Winter” and “Ron Taylor: Dr. Baseball,” 7p. Jan 26: Francophile Film Shorts, 7p. Jan 28: Jewish Film Festival, 7p. Feb 2: Film: “Fanatic Heart: The Story so far of Black 47,” 7p. Feb 8: Independent movie: “Bitch,” 7p. Feb 9-10: Gypsy Lane, various times. Feb 16: Documentary shorts: “Great Women, Inspirations, Sailors & Confessions,” 7p. Feb 23: Film: “EKlectika Shorts I”, 7p. Feb 25: Jewish Film Festival, 5p. March...

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Maple Fests
Jan28

Maple Fests

Shearer Hill Farm Maple Festival Shearer Hill Farm, Wilmington http://www.Shearerhillfarm.com March–early April If you haven’t experienced maple sugaring first hand, you can do so at Shearer Hill Farm. For most of March and into April, you can join the crew to experiencing maple sugaring in the farm’s private sugarhouse. You’ll be able to help gather sap, stoke the fire in the sugarhouse evaporator, and watch as Farmer Bill boils delicious maple syrup. Also included: a rustic atmosphere, with wine and cheese or hot cocoa. Whitingham Maple Festival Various locations around Whitingham http://www.whitingham-maplefest.us March 17–18 The Maple Festival celebrates an important aspect of Whitingham’s economic and cultural heritage. Eight of our 18 Whitingham sugar makers have graciously opened the doors of their sugar houses and given their time so that residents, visitors, and guests will gain a better understanding and appreciation for the art and science of maple syrup and sugar making and the historical importance of “sugaring” to our town. Whitingham is known as the birthplace of Brigham Young and there are two monuments in town noting Young’s achievements. The town is in Southern Vermont, some 25 miles north of Greenfield, Mass. and between Bennington and Brattleboro. Vermont Maple Open House Weekend Various locations throughout Vermont http://www.vermontmaple.org March 24–25 Visit Vermont sugarhouses and restaurants across the state and watch maple syrup being made. Join our family tradition and be a part of all the fun! Each sugarhouse offers guests a unique experience. Some hold pancake breakfasts; others offer wagon or sleigh rides. At some sugarhouses you can ski or snowshoe through the woods. Others offer a chance to taste authentic sugar on snow. Check back for...

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Winter carnivals
Jan28

Winter carnivals

Bennington Winterfest Various locations in North Bennington http://www.bennington.com Jan 27 The Village of North Bennington is thrilled to announce its Annual Winterfest and Penguin Plunge. Start your day off with a dip in the frigid waters of Lake Paran at the Penguin Plunge. You can opt out of the swim by cheering on the brave souls raising money for the Special Olympics at the Lake Paran Boat Launch. The Vermont Arts Exchange once again hosts the After Plunge Party at Sage Street Mill, around the corner from Lake Paran. Walk or take a hayride up to the North Bennington Train Station to cheer on local novices at the annual ice sculpture competition as they transform blocks of ice into works of art. Sculpture judging and prizes awarded at 3p. Also at the station, create your own hot chocolate masterpiece benefiting Bennington Dollars for Scholars and enjoy fun and games led by area Girl Scouts—who will be taking orders for their world-famous Girl Scout cookies. Brattleboro Winter Carnival Various locations throughout Brattleboro http://www.brattleborowintercarnival.org Feb 17–25 Every year, the town of Brattleboro comes together for Winter Carnival. There will be music, karaoke, ice fishing derby, a queen’s pageant, pancake breakfast, ice skating show, sleigh rides, petting zoo, Country Western jamboree, and more. Always a fun party in downtown Brattleboro. Chester Winter Carnival Various locations in Chester http://www.visit-chester.com Feb 18 A perfect family winter event in a picturesque Vermont setting: chili tasting, ice carving, street performers, face painting, and a tractor parade. Nestled amid Bromley, Magic, Stratton, and Okemo, Chester is the southern gateway to the Okemo Valley. This event includes dogsled rides, skating outdoors, and broom hockey that warms one’s heart and evokes laughter on the coldest winter days. Grafton Winter Carnival Grafton Ponds Outdoor Center, Grafton http://www.graftoninnvermont.com Feb 3 Visit the Sixth Annual Winter Carnival to enjoy skiing, snowshoeing, tubing, and ice skating. Our ice bar event was such a success that we’re extending it for 2018. You’ll be able to join us for local libations 2–7p. Mardi Gras at Mount Snow Main Base Area, Mount Snow, West Dover http://www.mountsnow.com Feb 10 Join us as Mount Snow transforms into Bourbon Street. There will be fun Bud Light-sponsored après-ski parties going on inside Cuzzins from 11a to close with live music in the afternoon, plus family friendly entertainment at Snow Barn! And what would Mardi Gras be without beads? We will have more than 12,000 to give away in lift lines, lodges, parties and other locations all day long. Get out your purple, green, and gold and join Mount Snow and Bud Light for this epic...

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Special events
Jan28

Special events

Harris Hill Ski Jump Cedar Street, Brattleboro http://www.harrishillskijump.com, 802 254-4565 Feb. 17–18 Ski jumping returns to Harris Hill with an international field of jumpers. Boasting the only 90-meter, Olympic-sized ski jump in New England, the iconic two-day competition features the Fred Harris Memorial Tournament and the Pepsi Challenge. The event—a stop on the U.S. Cup Series of USA Nordic—includes a Nordic-combined competition. 2018 celebrates 96 years of ski jumping at Harris Hill. Last year thousands of spectators cheered as an 18-year-old Slovenian soared 341 feet to set a new hill record. The event offers food, music, tailgating, a bonfire, beer tent, souvenirs plus an exciting opportunity to witness the thrill of ski jumping. The anticipation and excitement of the spectators, focus, and friendliness of the athletes, and the festive atmosphere, make this annual event a New England favorite. Harris Hill’s snowmaking system ensures that the event will run regardless of ground cover in surrounding areas. Gates open each day at 10a, with the first trial jump at 11. Competition begins with opening ceremonies at noon. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for students 6 to 12, and free for children under 6. Buy your tickets at the gate (cash or local check only) or at brownpapertickets.com. For details and early ticket sales, visit HarrisHillSkiJump.com or Harris Hill Ski Jump on Facebook and Twitter. Parking is free at the hill. The field may be muddy and/or bumpy, so keep this in mind if you’re bringing a vehicle with low ground clearance. There’s additional parking at the Brattleboro Retreat on Linden Street (Route 30) with a free shuttle bus to the venue. A note on the weather: For those who aren’t used to New England winters, know that it’s unpredictable. Wear layers. Snow gear is highly recommended: waterproof boots, hat, gloves, long-johns, etc. The beer tent is heated so you can warm up, but do prepare for the elements. Presented by Pepsi and generously supported by area sponsors such as Auto Mall, Mount Snow, and The Richards Group. NECCA Circus Spectacular Latchis Theater, downtown Brattleboro http://www.necenterforcircusarts.com March 3–4 Circus Spectacular, New England Center for Circus Arts’ eighth annual outreach fundraiser, is a dazzling event. Starring guest artists from circuses worldwide, this is a unique opportunity to see some of today’s most renowned high-flying aerialists, acrobats, and jugglers on the Latchis stage in Brattleboro. Proceeds benefit our community outreach programing, including scholarships for summer camps, discounted classes with local schools, and free classes for kids through collaborations with regional social services. Mount Snow Reggaefest Main Base Area, Mount Snow, West Dover http://www.mountsnow.com March 23–25 Bud Light Reggaefest returns to Mount Snow for a weekend of...

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2008-2017: SO Vermont Arts & Living anniversary retrospective
Jan28

2008-2017: SO Vermont Arts & Living anniversary retrospective

In each issue of SO Vermont Arts & Living, we cover gallery openings, festivals, people, entrepreneurs — all the things that encompass the Southern Vermont lifestyle. The timeline is a just a tip of the iceberg that we enjoyed sharing with you as we travelled down memory lane in flipping through back issues of the magazine. There was so much more we could have included! We hope these vignettes of material from this time shows the enduring drive of our artists to create and be creative — and the perpetual challenge of keeping a vibrant, local economy where plenty of people come to visit, where Vermonters thrive, and where artists make us look at and think about our world just a little bit differently. Enjoy! — Compiled by Jeff Potter and condensed from the words of the original writers To explore all of these past issues (except 2008), please use the the Past Issues menu tab at the top of this page. 2008 In 2008, work proceeded apace on the $300,000 renovation of the Harris Hill Ski Jump in Brattleboro. The jump, built by Fred Harris in 1922 for $2,000 with help from local ski enthusiasts, was completely redesigned and rebuilt with a new takeoff, re-graded landing, and new spectator steps, making it the newest and most modern of its size in the country. Over the years, Harris Hill has been the site of 18 national and regional championships, and in 1992 it hosted the National Championships. In 2018, jumpers will once again compete in this local sports institution. See pages 26–27. In December 2008,  on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the opening of the Latchis Theatre, the Brattleboro Arts Initiative (which in 2011 would rebrand itself as LatchisArts) announced its largest pledge to date for a second phase of fundraising to take the theater and hotel, an anchor of downtown Brattleboro, to the next level and more fully realize the project’s goals. The Thomas Thompson Trust awarded a $150,000 challenge grant for the subsequent phase of the massive rehabilitation project. See pages 42-45 for an update on the building and its role in the arts community of Southern Vermont. “One’s conception of oneself and others maintains the highest emotional and intellectual impact of any other phenomenon,” wrote Clara Rose Thornton, reviewing the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center’s exhibit “As Others See Us: The Contemporary Portrait.” Showcasing more than 80 artists working in far-reaching mediums, “there is much fodder for introspection, analysis and revelation,” Thornton wrote. “Forget about the fact that it’s artwork, but rather just these faces, these other human faces looking back at you,” BMAC...

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Latchis Theatre to celebrate its 80th
Jan28

Latchis Theatre to celebrate its 80th

By Steve Noble Resilience is the operative word to describe the Latchis Hotel and Theatre, Brattleboro’s downtown Art Deco gem, which celebrates its 80th birthday in September 2018. The four brothers who built the Latchis Memorial Building in 1938 in tribute to their father, Demetrius Latchis, should have had an inkling from the start that their resilience would be tested. Their grand opening celebration was set for Sept. 22, 1938, but the Great Hurricane of 1938 blew through town on a destructive tear that killed 144 throughout New England and, in today’s dollars, wrought $7 billion in damage. The storm delayed the opening a mere 24 hours. On Sept. 23, 1938, 1,600 turned out for the grand opening ceremonies, which included a convocation from local clergy, music by Felix Ferdinando and his Hotel Montclair Orchestra, other live acts, and the screening of the latest Sonja Henie film, “My Lucky Star.” In the nearly 80 years since, the Latchis Building has weathered all kinds of storms and hung in there through economic ups and downs, changing tastes and demographics, differences in the family, a change in ownership, and another dangerous storm: Tropical Storm Irene, which dealt $600,000 in of damage to the Latchis and forced the building’s closure for 42 days. Still, the Latchis soldiers on. The Latchis Memorial Building today has four movie venues, including its majestic 750-seat Main Theatre, a 30-room boutique hotel, several retail spaces, and a pub and restaurant that is soon to reopen. Indeed, at nearly 80 years young, the Latchis is busier than ever, welcoming annually more than 60,000 movie viewers, 10,000 hotel guests, and some 20,000 patrons to an ever-expanding schedule of live programs and special events. The compelling story of the Latchis, from the emigration of Demetrius Latchis from Greece in 1901, to the growth of the family business that started with a fruit cart and grew in the span of a generation to a small empire of more than a dozen movie theaters throughout New England, and up to the present day is told in Gordon Hayward’s “Greek Epic: The Latchis Family and the New England Theater Empire They Built” (2016). Hayward is president of the non-profit Latchis Arts, which owns the building and the business that runs it. Based on interviews with Latchis family members and countless hours of research, his book is a revealing look at the Latchis family through four generations. Beyond its meticulous attention to detail, “Greek Epic” retains the sense of excitement the Latchis evokes. Starting with its Art Deco exterior, patrons are then drawn to the Latchis’ Greek-themed decorative touches and terrazzo floors and into...

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Valley Cares senior housing celebrates 10 years
Jan28

Valley Cares senior housing celebrates 10 years

By Elayne Clift He’s energetic, gallant, and wickedly funny. He still has an eye for the ladies, writes stories and letters to the editor on a typewriter, bakes banana bread, and up until a year ago was snowshoeing. He says keeping active and maintaining a sense of humor is vital. None of this would be unusual for many people residing in assisted living settings. But Warren Patrick, former carpenter and real estate and insurance businessman, collector of antique cameras, town clerk and treasurer, is 106. Patrick, the oldest resident of the West River Valley Senior Housing complex in Townshend, Vt., is also one of its original tenants. He moved in when the assisted living apartments opened in 2007. Now he says of his much-loved home, “Every single day I thank God for my blessings.” Valley Cares senior housing is like The Little Engine That Could. Founding Board Member John Nopper recalls people strongly questioning the idea of building a full-service facility in a small village, already home to Grace Cottage Hospital, which included a small residential care unit. “People said it couldn’t be done. That made us more determined,” Nopper says. But Nopper and Bob Crego, who has worked in community development since 1988, didn’t want to let go of the idea, so they committed to finding a way to make Valley Cares happen. “We just had to do this. We had no choice. So, we went ahead and did it,” Nopper says. “Together, we began pulling together all the various moving parts for an initial $10 million project.” Crego, an affordable-housing developer whom Nopper credits with making the whole thing happen, says Valley Cares was the most complex infrastructure project he’d ever worked on because of its rural site, which lacked municipal water or sewer availability. It also involved what he calls “the overlay of health care and supportive services that needed to be developed for a sensitive population.” And he says the project is his most rewarding. Completing Valley Cares required working closely with many of whom Crego had developed good relationships locally and at the state level. It’s a testament to his myriad skills and positive relationships that the community raised almost $1 million to add to the financial help received from 18 other funding sources. Valley Cares was the nation’s first project to partner with a federal Housing and Urban Development funding source targeting grants for low-income senior housing construction and operations and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program. These sources yielded a combined $3.5 million, a little over a third of the project’s cost. And it was one of the first licensed assisted...

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