Montpelier, VT

Contact Name
Heather Bryce
Project Dates
March 3 - April 4, 2015
Tags
Event
The Montpelier Project involves a month long residency in the heart of downtown Montpelier, VT (at City Center) and culminating multi-media site-specific performance project that will energize the Montpelier community. This project will bring new, vibrant arts activities to the heart of downtown Montpelier as we explore, celebrate, express and document our feelings about our hometown. This project includes a curated performance and visual art series.

As part of this project and in addition to the performance and installation series, Bryce Dance Company and its partners will invite the Montpelier community to a series of four community dinners in which we will discuss and create based on the question “How do you know your hometown?”
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:
Outcomes from these conversations will be shared with the City of Montpelier and Montpelier Alive and may be used as a tool to energize Montpelier and bring new and vibrant arts activities to downtown Montpelier. This project will engage the local community through free workshops and performance events.

Major project goals and assessment:

A) To increase vibrancy in downtown Montpelier.
Assessment: An increase in vibrancy will be reflected by an increase in activity that attracts groups of people to go downtown for new activities. This will be measured by counting the unique number of visitors and participants who engage in project activities. In addition, local businesses will be surveyed to determine any increase in business resulting from the project.

B) To support the development of professional artists within the City.
Assessment: Bryce Dance Company will develop surveys that will be given to community members and artists to assess the success of this project. The project and survey results will be documented and shared with both Montpelier Alive and the City of Montpelier in order to reach this goal.

C) To assess the community’s desire for an artists collective within the City of Montpelier through providing opportunities for local artists to share space and collaborate on a large scale project.
Assessment: The surveys outlined in question one will include questions related to assessment of interest in a more permanent artists collective. Artists and community members involved in the project will have ongoing dialogue about how this collective could take shape and what additional resources are needed.

D) To provide a testing ground, framework and blueprint for a potential permanent Artists Collective within the City of Montpelier.
Assessment: See question two. In addition, the documentation of the project and survey results will include a clear plan for developing a permanent arts collective that energizes existing spaces within the city in new ways. Possible sites for this collective will be researched and shared with Montpelier Alive, the City and the community as an offering following the conclusion of the project.

E) To engage the local community and open dialogue around the theme of My Hometown in order to support residents in naming what stands out about Montpelier and what makes it such a wonderful place to live.
Assessment: Documentation of the dialogue and oral history interviews related to the question “How do you know your hometown?” This information could be used for marketing Montpelier on a larger scale in order to bring in new businesses, new residents, and increase tourism and will be shared with Montpelier Alive, local businesses and the City of Montpelier with releases for marketing use. Dialogue with the community will occur through the potluck events, creative development workshops, oral history interviews and question and answer sessions following performances of the work.


F) To continue to increase access to high-quality professional arts exhibitions and performances in Montpelier.
Assessment: Through the curation of professional artists for this project there will be high quality standards for the creative work presented. Studio space within the Garage building will be available to professional and emerging artists in the community during the month long residency period to support professional development. Lines of communication will be opened between artists and community members and will assess what additional resources might be needed in the future in order to support the growth of artists and professional art within the community. Surveys and dialogue with the individuals involved in the project will address these questions.

G) To increase engagement in the arts in downtown Montpelier.
Assessment: Numbers of unique visitors and project participants will be tracked and recorded.

If the goals change over time, please describe how:
This project is still in process - goals are currently the same as outlined above.
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):
Collaborators/Partners and PR plan:
**Additional partnerships are currently being leveraged with a variety of local businesses, artists and individuals**
This project will be a featured project in the Community Engagement Lab’s We are Montpelier project. The CEL will include the project in all of their We Are Montpelier publicity. We Are Montpelier is a collaboration with the Montpelier Public Schools and will include student/community projects that celebrate our connections to Montpelier as our hometown. For more information about the Community Engagement Lab and its offerings please visit http://celvt.org/
Ms. Bryce has secured space for this project in collaboration with Nedde Real Estate. Nedde Real Estate has generously agreed to support the project through donating the use of the Atrium at City Center for the month long residency period.
Ms. Bryce has entered into conversations with The Skinny Pancake around hosting the Community Dinners associated with this project. The Skinny Pancake has expressed interest in this opportunity and details of this collaboration are currently in negotiation.
Times Argus Arts Editor, Jim Lowe, will support a comprehensive media outreach plan to be implemented by Ms. Bryce and Mr. Lowe to ensure the project receives widespread news coverage, including previews to attract participation, and regular coverage as the project unfolds throughout the month. The comprehensive PR plan will involve press releases, work-in-progress showings, social media campaigns, radio interviews, word of mouth, posters, postcards, electronic mailings, website announcements and more.
The Vermont Arts Council has agreed to support the promotion of the project and related events.
New England Culinary Institute and Ms. Bryce have entered into conversations about a possible partnership, which would provide coffee, tea, and light refreshments for the performance events that occur during this project.
OneArts Collective in Burlington has already expressed interest in collaborating with Ms. Bryce on this innovative project and a number of community members and area artists have already pledged their support.
ORCA Media and Ms. Bryce are in dialogue about developing a partnership around this project. ORCA media is excited about the project and they are currently discussing ways in which they may be involved.
Vermont Public Radio and Ms. Bryce have started an initial conversation about VPR hosting a StoryCorps Story Booth during the residency period.
Media Outlets for outreach include:

VPR, Seven Days, Burlington Free Press, The Times Argus, The Bridge, The Waterbury Record, VT Arts Calendar, The World, The Northfield News, Middlesex Newspaper, The Herald of Randolph, The Point, WGDR, WCAX, Montpelier Alive, KidsVT, Vermont.com, The Vermont Chamber of Commerce and local Colleges.
How does this project relate to a larger community development strategy?
Downtown Development District Goals in relationship to The Montpelier Project:

1. To capitalize on the charm of our downtown by improving the downtown streetscape and making it attractive to residents, visitors and shoppers.
• Met by project goals A, B, E.

2. To increase the marketing of downtown Montpelier to both tourists and Central Vermont residents.
• Met by all project goals

3. To equitably appropriate funds to enhance the downtown streetscape and market Montpelier as a unique destination for tourism and business.
• Met by all project goals

4. To promote a climate which will strengthen our existing businesses while attracting new business to the city.
• Met by all project goals

5. To create a long range vision for the beautification and marketing of Montpelier’s Historic Downtown.
• Met by all project goals
Project Specifics
Please list the steps taken to implement the project:
The project is still in the implementation stage. At this point funds have been raised through private donors and Kickstarter to support the project. Community partnerships are still in development and being leveraged. Implementation involves community partners and local artists. A month long residency and performance series will occur in the City Center Atrium building. Currently we have put out a call to artists and are working with local press to get more information out.
If the project steps changed over time, please describe how:
Still in process.
Obstacles
What were your major obstacles for the completion of the project?
Still in process. Securing a space was an initial challenge that we met early in the development process.
Who or what was instrumental in overcoming these obstacles?
Developing additional community partnerships, general buy in from the community and press, individual support.
What top three suggestions would you give to others attempting a similar project?
1) Keep the scope of the project and planning needs in mind - don't over-reach.
2) Bring the community into the planning process and secure interest early on.
3) Be flexible. Some partnerships will not work out but others may be developed in order to move the project forward.
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?
It will - I can offer a full summary in early April.
Why do you consider the project successful, as related to your project goals above?
See above.
How did you measure this success or progress?
See above. Assessment is outlined under project goals.
Please describe any unexpected impacts:
Still in process.