CreativeGround highlights the people and places that contribute to New England’s thriving creative economy. Every other year, NEFA hosts the Creative Communities Exchange (CCX) to celebrate the projects that leverage those people and places for community development. This June, the sixth CCX will take place in Montpelier, Vermont. To prepare you for the imminent peer exchange of creative community initiatives, CreativeGround invites you to dig into the juicy activity in the area with the latest from local creative economy players. This week we're connecting with some of the staff at Lost Nation Theater, who are graciously sharing their space for some of the CCX workshops.

(Pssst... Catch up on last week's interview with CCX local host, Montpelier Alive here.)

Lost Nation Theater's CreativeGround profile is born to stand out.

Lost Nation Theater, Montpelier's award-winning professional theater company, tours productions for elementary and adult audiences alike. In addition to staging stellar shows, LNT offers residencies, workshops, and master classes. Dig into their CreativeGround profile to learn more, and read on to have a chat with long time LNT member, Kim Bent (Founding Artistic Director) and the freshest face on the staff, Danielle Wirsansky (Associate Managing Director).

CreativeGround (CG):  What is a typical day for you at Lost Nation Theater?

Danielle Wirsansky (DW): I’ve just started working at Lost Nation Theater, and I wear a lot of hats. Every day brings different tasks and challenges and it can be a whirlwind just to stay on top of it all simply because we are doing so much, constantly. Some days are office days-- I’m doing administrative work like facilitating production meetings or working with board members and volunteers to get ready for the upcoming weekend of shows. Other days, I’m focused on marketing-- I’ll be making signs, writing press releases, or taking photos of the actors and staff as they create new work. I’m also the House Manager for our productions, so I’ll be creating seating charts, talking with patrons, managing a group of volunteers, and more. Never knowing exactly what to expect each day makes what I do exciting!

CG: Tell us how you’re involved in the region’s creative sector off the clock. What are you reading, or what is your favorite arts blog or online publication? 

DW: I’m a recent transplant from Florida, so I’m still getting into the swing of the cultural scene here in Vermont. I've been here just under a month, so there hasn't been much time for exploration yet. I haven't yet had a maple creemee or visited a brewery... I do photography as a hobby, and I've been in love with taking photos of the hills (and actors make the best models, so I've had a wonderful supply of them for portraits against the Vermont landscape). Hubbard Park is certainly already a favorite place of mine to wander around in.

I recently finished my graduate studies in History and I presented at the Imperial Legacies of 1919 conference in Texas at the end of April, so I've been reading Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan by Shrabani Basu and Making Peace: The Reconstruction of Gender in Interwar Britain by Susan Kingsley Kent. Both authors were keynote speakers at the conference, and both subjects, women in espionage and gender history, were major elements of my thesi, so I was excited to read these books.

2013's "Ransom", a music-drama by Dick & Dorothy Robson. LNT's professional premier production of music drama created from the letters of US Civil War Vermont soldier Ransom W Towle.

CG: Name three New England artists, creative businesses, or cultural nonprofits we should all know about.

Kim Bent (KB): Montpelier has a wealth of high-quality artists and arts organizations. To name three: 

  • For the past 10 years, Scrag Mountain Music, headed by bassist/composer Evan Premo and soprano Mary Bonhag, has been bringing classical chamber music to non-traditional venues, as well as to traditional ones, throughout Vermont. For most of their programs, Evan and Mary invite other high-quality classical musicians from all over the United States to join them. The fact that many of their rehearsals are open to the public is just one example of their commitment to making classical music accessible to all.
  • Right across Main Street from Lost Nation’s City Hall Arts Center is the Savoy Theater, a privately-owned, art-house cinema, carrying on a 35-year tradition of showing everything from new releases to Oscar-nominated shorts to independent films, as well as hosting the annual Green Mountain Film Festival in late March.
  • Right around the corner, the T. W. Wood Art Gallery makes its home at the Center for Arts and Learning on Barre Street. In addition to their on-going exhibits of the work of their 19th century founder Thomas Waterman Wood, the Gallery regularly programs showings throughout the year of many contemporary local artists; and maintains an ambitious schedule of educational programs, workshops, and summer camps.    

CG: What was the last New England creative business or cultural nonprofit you visited and what did you see? 

KB: Most recently, LNT’s Producing Artistic Director Kathleen Keenan and I attended a performance of the solo show “Buyer & Seller” at Northern Stage in White River Junction, Vermont. It was performed by Eric Love who first came to Vermont many years ago to work with LNT. Eric fell in love with the state and now is working year-round at Northern Stage. 

CG: How does CreativeGround serve the creative economy in your region?

DW: It’s a great resource for artists of all kinds to be able to connect with each other to create new, edgy, boundary-pushing work. We can work together to promote each other or even to redefine the limits of art. We can use CreativeGround to find what we are looking for artistically.

Theater FOR Kids BY Kids- Into The Woods Jr. 2012. Advanced students perform Sondheim's Into the Woods directed by Tara Lee Downs and Dan Boomhower. Scenic Design by Donna Stafford. Lighting by Wendy Stephens

CG: Why should New England artists, creative businesses, and cultural nonprofits be listed on CreativeGround?

DW: Artistic groups and individuals never know when we might need each other so it is pretty awesome that we already have the network set up to find who or what we need when we need it, rather than desperately having to search. We can also better stay in touch and promote other events or artists because we know what’s going on.

Thank you, Kim and Danielle, for sharing a bit of your magic with us!

Want more? Check back in next week for "On the CreativeGround with..." yet another Montpelier creative economy insider that you might meet at #CCX2019. Until then, enjoy digging into CreativeGround, and/or catching up on last week's On the CreativeGround with Montpelier Alive blogpost!