Arts & Culture

VPR's coverage of arts and culture in the region.

Explore our coverage by topic or chronologically by scrolling through the list below

Books | Music | Sports | In Memoriam | Kids & Parenting

Have a story idea or news tip?

Send us an email.

“Quo Vadis, Aida?” — a fictionalized account of events leading up to the 1995 massacre of Muslims during the Yugoslav War — is up for an Academy Award in the International Feature Film category. The film was directed by Bosnian filmmaker Jasmila Žbanić, who was living in Vermont when the killings took place.

Jon Kalish reports on the impact working with a Vermont theater group had on the director’s artistic development.

Watch on YouTube.

Zoom meetings. Virtual happy hours. Facetime dates. We've been living in a pandemic world for over a year now, and for better or worse, many of us are used to our new social routines.

But as vaccinations ramp up and restrictions begin to loosen across the country, the new question is: Are we ready? After so much time apart, do we even know how to socialize in person anymore?

A framed silkscreen image of a child's doll, dressed in a bright red dress.
Erin Jenkins, Courtesy

As a child growing up in South Carolina, artist and printmaker Jennifer Mack-Watkins' curiosity was fueled by thumbing through her local library’s card catalogs and then following those threads. Such as the manner in which Mack-Watkins came to create the works in her first museum solo show, “Children of the Sun,” up now at Brattleboro Museum and Art Center.

A hand presents a simple white envelope in front of a sky blue wall in the background.
Erica Steeves / Unsplash

If you live in Vermont and happen to receive a mysterious letter or postcard with no return address, don't just throw it away. It could be a bit of verse sent to you randomly from Vermont's own poet laureate, Mary Ruefle.

Almost 28 years ago, Lee and Dennis Horton were accused of a robbery and a murder in a Philadelphia bar. They were convicted and sent to prison. It was 1993. Bill Clinton was president. Sleepless in Seattle was in the theaters. People didn't really use cellphones. They just walked down the street and looked at each other. Now the brothers are in their fifties. After spending a quarter century in prison they were just released.

The odds of dying after getting a COVID-19 vaccine are virtually nonexistent.

According to recent data from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, you're three times more likely to get struck by lightning.

But you might not know that from looking at your social media feed.

The newly launched Black Shutter Podcast is already gaining attention in the creative community for its focus on people historically left out of the picture: Black photographers, filmmakers, editors and other like-minded creatives.

"The term 'Black shutter' is how Black photographers see the world," says co-creator Idris Talib Solomon. "So any Black person with a camera has a Black shutter, because you document the world the way that you see it based on your lived experiences."

A clip from KeruBo's music video for the song Chanjo, with Irene Kerubo Webster singing before a crowd dancing on the front steps to a building.
KeruBo, courtesy

Music is a universal language. And If you may not be able to understand the language that local health officials are using to warn you about a deadly pandemic, music can provide another way to communicate. That's how the group KeruBo is discussing the COVID-19 vaccine among Vermont's African community, with the new song Chanjo.

A daguerrotype of Alexander Twilight
The Old Stone House Museum, courtesy

Of all the portraits in the Vermont Statehouse, none are of people of color, but that will soon change. A portrait of Alexander Twilight will go up in the halls of the Statehouse likely next year.

JAG Productions / Courtesy

For the past five years, JAGFest, a festival celebrating Black theater, has brought a group of artists to Vermont in the middle of winter to develop, workshop and perform new works. This year, as with so many things, an in-person workshop and festival were not possible due to COVID-19. So, the producers adapted by tapping into another medium.

An image of the cartoon Clearing A Path For Everyone by Michael Giangreco
Michael Giangreco and Kevin Ruelle / University of Vermont Center for Digital Initiatives Collection

Comic strips might evoke images of slapstick humor, superheroes, or political satire. When it comes to the topics comics tackle, special education doesn’t immediately leap to mind.

Chee standing by door in natural light
Robert Gill, Courtesy

Writer and Dartmouth professor Alexander Chee is the author of two novels — Edinburgh and Queen of the Night — and a collection of essays: How To Write an Autobiographical Novel. The self-described Korean American queer author has lived in Bradford, Vermont for four years, and this month, he was awarded a $50,000 fellowship from the organization United States Artists.

A campaign button for Mitzi Johnson among other various buttons and flyers.
Elodie Reed / VPR file

The "Vermont Has Her Back" group sent a letter to newsrooms across the state this week, calling on the Vermont press corps to diversify in more ways than one. Signed by more than 50 individuals — ranging from business owners, to nonprofit leaders and former governors — the letter calls for greater diversity in the voices and experts the news features and the stories the industry covers, as well as in how those stories are covered. The group has also called for greater diversity among the journalists telling those stories.

An image for the podcast Muse Mentors next to a photo of flutist and podcast host Karen Kevra.
Photo: Caleb Kenna

Grammy-nominated flutist Karen Kevra started Montpelier's chamber music series, Capital City Concerts, and has brought world-class performers to Vermont for 20 years. But the pandemic upended those concerts, cutting CCC’s 20th season short and canceling shows for the foreseeable future. So Kevra turned her energies toward making a podcast, one that interviews artists and performers about their art, but also the teachers and mentors who have shaped their creative careers.

When Amanda Gorman was asked to write a poem for President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday, she didn't know where to begin. The nation has just been through a bitter election. Americans are as divided as ever. And the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage.

"It was really daunting to begin the poem because you don't even really know the entry point in which to step into the murk," she said in an interview Monday with NPR's Steve Inskeep.

Two photos of the sneaker sculptures on display at the Brattleboro Musuem and Art Center.
Rachel Portesi, Courtesy

The Great Shoe Spill of 1990 was the result of a shipping container falling overboard while crossing the Pacific Ocean, spewing more than $7 million in Nike sneakers into the sea. That shoe spill is the inspiration behind Overboard, a new exhibit by sculptor Andy Yoder at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center.

Lara Dickson / For VPR

Federal funds are on the way to some performance venues. Plus, a small population decline, a large travel decline, and COVID-19 numbers.

An empty stage and auditoirium with wood floors
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

The COVID relief package that President Trump signed this weekend includes $15 billion for live music and theater venues. The news means some of the people who run bars, theaters and music halls across Vermont have a new source of hope that they will eventually be able to reopen.

A blue vintage boombox with colorful tape cassettes against a wood floor
jakkapan21 / iStock

It's the most wonderful time of the year ... for Vermont Edition's annual music show, that is! Join us at noon on Wednesday, Dec. 23, for two hours of song, story and reflection.

A man sits on a railing outside his apartment.
Nina Keck / VPR

Bruce Bouchard, the long-time director of Rutland’s Paramount Theatre, is retiring.