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 McBride, Martha Fitch, Peter Gould, Alex Aldrich, Robert Wolterstorff, Shanta Lee Gander, and Carolyn Partridge.
Without advertising support and belief in this project, we wouldn’t have lasted one year — let alone 10. (Please see the list of our first-issue and anniversary advertisers on the foldout of this issue’s front cover.)
As I think back to 2008 and 2009, following the global economic crisis, I am reminded of a story about growing local culture by Clara Rose Thornton that appeared in our Spring 2009 issue. Alex Aldrich, then–executive director of the Vermont Arts Council, told her, “Arts alone are not going to restore a community to fiscal solvency. The new thinking is that art is part of the discussion: it’s part of the planning.”
This new way of thinking came out of a 2004 report by newly formed Vermont Council on Culture and Innovation and it changed the way art was viewed at the legislative level.
Certainly, much has happened since then. Communities, villages, and arts nonprofits began to form arts alliances and to shore up the cultural resources once thought extraneous or isolated from the essential building blocks of commerce. We’ve been lucky to chronicle and explore the evolving life of the region and its new respect for the arts.
We believe in Southern Vermont with a capital S. Southern Vermont is not just an adjective. Southern Vermont is a beloved destination because for so many it is home or home away from home, with an authenticity that inspires and captivates. We celebrate the whole of that experience as reflected by the creative spirit that is nurtured by a sense of place.
This issue takes a look back to celebrate and update some of our first issue stories — it’s full of the reasons why we love Southern Vermont. We invite you to celebrate with us and — more than anything — we’d love to hear why you love Southern Vermont. We’d be happy to hear how you spend your best day enjoying the region. We hope you will join in our effort to support this still-under-recognized-but-growing part of Vermont’s cultural economy.
—Lynn Barrett, publisher and editor