Vermont is known for its sweeping vistas, colorful foliage and ski resorts. Tourists come for these attractions, helping to boost the local economy. But Alex Aldrich, executive director of the Vermont Arts Council, wants Vermont to also become a tourist attraction for its vibrant art scene.
“The arts really are a very under-appreciated reason to come to Vermont ... there are people who like to buy ice cream and teddy bears, all of which are great. But we want the arts to be just as appreciated and serve as a destination for travelers from out of state,” Aldrich says.
The Vermont Arts Council has connected with a variety of libraries and schools throughout the state to create the Vermont Creative Network. They network and identify opportunities in the arts that they can take on in an informal way. Aldrich explains, “If you think about the Farm-To-Plate Network and what it’s done for localvores, local foods and artisanal foods, we want to do the same thing for culture.”
One of their initiatives for the next year is Vermont Arts 2015. Aldrich says that it’s a way to raise awareness for all the incredible art that’s happening throughout the state. “We have a state-wide arts calendar. People can sign up and put their events on that calendar, and in addition, we’re asking them to indicate which events they would like to have special attention paid to. Those events become part of our Vermont Arts 2015 Festival. We’re not producing anything, but we’re collectively bringing together all the variety, excitement and incredible quality of the arts activities throughout the state under one umbrella,” Aldrich says.
Aldrich hopes that in 2015, tourists will extend their stays in Vermont by a day or two to catch a show, visit a gallery or take a class. He thinks that this would not only improve the awareness of the rich art scene in the state, but also bring in millions more dollars for local businesses.
The Vermont Arts Council is also looking forward past 2015. “We need to pay attention to the next 50 years and look at sustainability. What do we need to have in place so that the arts will continue to thrive and bring customers into the state and make people proud to live here? We’re heading there,” Aldrich says.
Learn more about the Vermont Arts 2015 initiative on their website.