Legacy Putney

Putney, VT

Contact Name
Maria Basescu
Project Dates
September 2017 - May 2018
Placemaking/placekeeping, Event, Cultural Heritage
LegacyPutney: a Collaborative Celebration of Vermont History, Arts, & Culture
• A collaborative project with the Town of Putney, of gathering stories from a diverse spectrum of Putney residents, to then be shared via the full range of performance arts genres which is uniquely characteristic of Next Stage; music, film, storytelling, dance, culinary and visual arts.
• The internationally-renowned company Narativ conducted a training workshop, in partnership with the Vermont Folk Life Center, to train a corps of storytellers and interviewers.
• Material was developed and shared throughout the year, culminating in a ten day festival in May 2018. All events were free and open to the public.
Funded in part by NEA Our Town grant.
Project Goals
What were the specific goals of this creative economy project? Describe the community development challenge or opportunity that your project was designed to address:
One of Next Stage’s key objectives, both in its overarching mission and with this project specifically, was to engage members of our community who may not traditionally have seen the arts as directly related to their lives. Culture is not a luxury for the few, but an essential way of building community. Our inclusive goal was not only to celebrate our community through live, shared cultural experience, but to expand our circle, and broaden- as well as deepen- our sense of relationship to one another. Our challenge was to break down these barriers, and offer performances and workshops as well as effective outreach.
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):
Key Partners

Naratív -Naratív transforms the way people communicate for the long term. Through their listening and storytelling method, they open dialogue, foster innovation, create buy-in and connect people. Naratív creates strategies that focus on evolving cultures throughout the world by training people how to listen and tell personal stories and providing contexts where such stories can be shared with others. Working with groups and communities across the world, we thoroughly analyze each culture as a distinct entity in order to effect changes in behavior, attitudes and action.

The Vermont Folklife Center is a nationally known folklife education organization that uses ethnography—study of cultural experience through interviewing, participation and observation—to strengthen the understanding of the cultural and social fabric of Vermont's diverse communities. The VFC's mission is to broaden, strengthen, and deepen our understanding of Vermont; to assure a repository for our collective cultural memory; and to strengthen communities by building connections among the diverse peoples of Vermont.

Putney Historic Society-Since 1959 the all-volunteer Putney Historical Society (PHS) has worked alongside the community to preserve and protect its history and vitality. Recently PHS has taken a major leap forward through proactive community development.
PHS is committed to the preservation and progress of its community and was (and is) at the heart of revitalizing the downtown Putney business district after two devastating fires and a hurricane. Along with many other art partners, PHS collaborated on improving and looking forward to a redeveloped town and was at the impetus of the Next Stage Arts Project.

Local Schools (Putney Central School, Putney School, Landmark, Greenwood School, School of International Training)
Putney Central School is Putney's public school for children in pre-kindergarten through 8th grade. The Putney School is a private high school whose progressive curriculum values rigorous learning and community participation. Landmark College's mission is to transform the way students learn, educators teach and the public thinks about education. They provide accessible approaches to learning that empower individuals who learn differently. Greenwood School has 60 elementary and middle school aged students with learning challenges. SIT, School for International Training prepares students to be inter-culturally effective leaders, professionals, and citizens. SIT fosters a worldwide network of individuals and organizations committed to responsible global citizenship. All of these schools are in close proximity of Putney and Next Stage and have established relationships.

Apron Theater-is committed to exploring and producing challenging theater. Its goal is to cultivate a collaborative atmosphere through plays, workshops, and new work that they share with the community. “The Apron is committed to creating community involvement through readings of original plays by local writers, adult workshops, and acting classes for children.” Apron Theater is Next Stage’s theater in residence.

Green Writers Press- A Vermont-based, global publisher, Green Writers Press’s mission is to spread a message of hope and renewal through the words and images they publish. Printing on demand and with a local Vermont printer, GWP adheres to it’s commitment to preserving and protecting the natural resources of the earth, and donates a portion of all proceeds to Vermont-based environmental organizations.

Vermont Performance Lab- A new type of performance incubator in the foothills of Vermont. VPL takes creation of new work beyond the walls of the studio and into the community by fostering experimental approaches to research and performance. The participation of local arts, education, social service and social organizations extends VPL's production capabilities, audience reach and artistic impact.

Green Mountain Orchards- Local family owned farm for over 100 years. Historical roots in the community and provides an outdoor performance space for NSAP events.

Yellow Barn- an international center for chamber music, encourages discovery in the studio, classroom, and concert hall; explores the craft of musical interpretation; and illuminates our world through the unique experience of music.

Sandglass Theater- an internationally known theater company based in Putney, specializing in combining puppets with music, actors, and visual imagery.

The Putney Public Library- A central resource center for all ages that provide access to books, computers, research, classes and lectures.

Putney Community Center-promotes the well being of Putney and its surrounding communities through educational, recreational, cultural and human services, and to foster cooperation and understanding between all individuals, groups and organizations within the Town of Putney.

Town of Putney-Through our collaboration with the town government, we continued to enrich our community by being a “focal point of the arts”.

Partners collaborated on artistic presentations and outreach.

Legacy Putney schedule of events:

• May 3
• 7pm Solidarity Forever: Songs of Unions and Labor
Vermont Humanities Council Speaker at Putney Public Library
• May 4 7pm An Evening of Putney Stories with Mud by Sandglass Theater

• May 5 m8pm Yellow Barn Tribute to founders David & Janet Wells & concert by Enrico Elisi

• May 6 4-6:30pm Butterfly Swing Band T Dance (with instruction)

• May 7 2pm All School/Community Sing at The Putney School
7pm Putney Art Stories by Putney Central School students in collaboration with the Vermont Folk Life Center
Bake sale to benefit the Putney Foodshelf

• May 8 7pm Speaker William Hosley - Reading Places: Art, Architecture, and Gravestones in Early Vermont by - Putney Historical Society/Vermont Humanities Council

• May 9 7pm Indigenous Voice from the Land
with traditional food prepared by The Grammar School

• May 10 7pm The Vermont Movie; special Putney edit with guest filmmaker Nora Jacobson Plus Putney Historical Society short films

• May 11 5:30-7pm Community Supper
• 7-9pm The Stockwell Brothers & Friends Concert

• May 12 4-6pm Traditional Family Recipe Tastings
• 6-9pm Putney All-Star Contra Dance

• May 13 5-7pm Thaw art show closing reception and 6pm reading with Evie Lovett & Diana Whitney

• Next Stage Gallery Art Show Thaw featuring work by Evie Lovett
• Photographic Exhibition by Putney Historical Society
• Food collection for Putney Foodshelf

How does this project relate to a larger community development strategy?
Through our collaboration with the town government, we will continue to enrich our community by being a “focal point of the arts”. We achieved this through this year-long programming and festival. The town plan was also important in our historical research. (Putney’s reputation as a center for the arts and for innovative private education have helped it remain vital through the significant changes of the past- from Town Plan 2015) “The arts are crucial to the life of every community.” (Karen DeCrow)

Project Specifics
Please list the steps taken to implement the project:
We fundraised for over a year, developing grant proposals for the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fresh Sound Foundation, and the Harmon Foundation. The application process for storytellers was comprehensive, including a questionnaire, and consideration to selecting a widely representative demographic group, from high school age through 80.
What were your major obstacles for the completion of the project?
In addition to breaking through socioeconomic barriers to participation , there were considerable logistical challenges in coordinating such a diverse group of creative partners, volunteers, and government/businesses, but the benefits were well worth of the effort.
Who or what was instrumental in overcoming these obstacles?
Having a wide network of contributors, from a range of sectors of the community; long time residents, newcomers, educators, farmers, town government officials, artists, etc. Continuous communications. Funding that enabled us to offer all events at no charge.
What top three suggestions would you give to others attempting a similar project?
Have a broad, diverse and committed planning group
Actively engage educational institutions and businesses
Take pictures!
Project Impact
How has this project strategically connected arts and cultural activities to social, economic, and cultural issues in your community? What is different in your community as a result of this project?
Expanded audiences and engagement of new people in the space, significant community conversations and exchange, the inspiration for what has become a monthly storytelling series featuring local voices.
Why do you consider the project successful, as related to your project goals above?
We believe we successfully engaged the following:
• Educational institutions: Programming enriched school curriculums, providing another dimension to history and social sciences. Learning through the arts is a powerful tool for students and teachers, and this project offered students exposure to world-class talent by opportunities to interact with artists and community members up-close, as well as a professional forum for presenting their own work.

• Collaborating Partner Organizations- this was an opportunity to co-promote and highlight the work of our collaborators, giving constituents access to Putney as a cultural hub for southern Vermont.

• Underserved populations: Events were accessible financially and in the newly-renovated facility.

• The local and regional economy: The festival brought in visitors from neighboring towns and states who supported local businesses; restaurants, lodging, and shops.

• The entire community: Programming was designed to engage a broad range of multigenerational audiences and individuals with long traditional roots in Vermont as well as newcomers, cutting across socioeconomic and diverse demographics.
How did you measure this success or progress?
see above
Please describe any unexpected impacts:
Specifically the engagement of the indigenous community was not fully anticipated...we had intended to include the Abenaqi voice in our storytelling group, but it expanded to warrant a full evening devoted to those perspectives, which was greatly enriching to the overall event.