What were the specific goals of this creative economy project? Describe the community development challenge or opportunity that your project was designed to address:
The project’s initial goals were to maintain a home for our member organizations in the heart of downtown Montpelier, and to welcome other artists, musicians, nonprofits, and makers into that space, with the ultimate goal of strengthening the fabric of our artistic community. We have always been dedicated to keeping rents low for our member-tenants, ensuring that our space is filled and that there are options for creative professionals who want to stay downtown even as rents are driven upwards.
If the goals change over time, please describe how:
Our initial goals have stayed the same; we are working now to develop our programming rather than focusing on immediate building improvement needs. We envision an organization that will give artists space to work, exhibit, and perform, and that will also offer workshops, classes, and services to artists. We continue to refine the systems and structures that will let us build collaborations between organizations and serve our community most effectively.
Who was involved in this project and what did they do? (be sure to include the partners from outside of the creative sector and how local voices were included):
This project primarily involved the three founding members: T. W. Wood Gallery, the Monteverdi Music School, and the River Rock School. In addition, Paul and Peggy Irons were instrumental in fostering collaboration between the three organizations. A number of small nonprofits make their home at CAL, including the Summit School of Traditional Music, the Green Mountain Film Festival, the Onion River Exchange, the Friends of the Winooski, Green Mountain Youth Symphony, and others. We have worked on numerous building projects with support of community partners including the State of Vermont, the Vermont Arts Council, Efficiency Vermont, National Life Group, and Vermont Mutual Insurance.
How does this project relate to a larger community development strategy?
Montpelier has been trying to develop an arts-based community development strategy through its Arts Master Plan. By giving artists a place to work and exhibit, and by highlighting the strength of the arts in Montpelier, we hope to reinforce that strategy. We are part of what seems to be movement on Barre Street to create a corridor of arts-based organizations and other businesses. People now come down Barre St. to participate in Art Walk at the Front, the T. W. Wood Gallery, and the Center for Arts and Learning, and over the past several years, restaurants and other businesses seem to be launching on Barre Street as well.
What projects or places, if any, inspired your approach to this creative economy project?
We have certainly been inspired by initiatives such as Studio Place Arts in Barre and Burlington City Arts’ Firehouse Gallery.