Arts News

Stephen Goldberg’s “Quantam Dog in a Deep Blue Jaguar” at the Off Center for the Dramatic Arts. The Burlington theater will be closed until it becomes viable again.

Contributions should be sent to jim.lowe@rutlandherald.com or jim.lowe@timesargus.com at least two weeks in advance.

Intermission at Off-Center

BURLINGTON — It’s time to bring down the curtain. For now.

Off Center for the Dramatic Arts, an all-volunteer nonprofit, is celebrating 10 years of being a home and haven for independent performance creators in Vermont. This has been a decade of world premiere plays, classical revivals, splashy little musicals, killer comedy, intense solo work and challenging performance art on the cutting edge.

“We are proud to carve out a special little gathering place for Vermonters to take creative risks and develop our homegrown theatre art and artists,” Laura Roald, board president, said in a news release.

“We were hoping to get together have a big celebration — a decade in operation is a major milestone in the arts,” Roald said. “Unfortunately, world events are interfering with both our ability to celebrate and our ability to gather. The COVID-19 pandemic makes physically being together indoors to sing and shout and dance dangerous, for both our audiences and our artists. The Off Center stage has been dark since late March, and we cannot predict when we will be able to return.”

For this reason, after extensive community consultation, the Off Center board of directors has voted to take an intermission.

“We will be leaving our current space at the end of July,” Roald said. “Our equipment will be stored and our regular programming will pause. We will wait patiently offstage for the cue to start our next act.”

During this intermission, the board and interested parties will revive their search for a suitable local space to build the next Off Center.

If you are interested to volunteer in the next few weeks to help with the move to storage, if you have secure storage space you would like to offer, or if you have an idea for a raw space we should consider for the next Off Center stage, email theoffcenter@gmail.com

New Studio Center ED

JOHNSON — The Vermont Studio Center board of trustees has announced the appointment of Elyzabeth Joy Holford as VSC’s next executive director. Holford will take the helm to lead the international residency program for artists and writers on July 17.

Mary Louise Pierson, artist and chair of the VSC board, said in an announcement of Holford’s appointment to VSC staff, “Elyzabeth’s work with nonprofits, corporations, and academic institutions has taken her around the country and globe. She has worked with artists, researchers, business leaders, and policy makers and has the skill and expertise to bring Vermont Studio Center to a new level of artistic and creative energy.”

A musician and lifelong art enthusiast with a passion for poetry, Holford has engaged extensively in the arts throughout her life. She accepted the appointment with enthusiasm.

“We have reached an inflection point in which every thread of our society’s fabric is being tested,” Holford said. “As we focus our collective lens on the importance of racial, social, and climate justice, we must protect and nurture the inclusive, reflective space for creatives to express and refine their voices and visions. I am grateful for the opportunity to honor the history of this beloved VSC community as we co-create a dynamic and sustainable path forward.”

VSC suspended residencies in March due to the COVID-19 epidemic and is currently making plans to incrementally reopen later this month.

For more information, go online to www.vermontstudiocenter.org

Grants to Vt. arts

MONTPELIER — The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities announced that nine Vermont arts and cultural organizations will receive $629,154 in highly competitive direct grants through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to mitigate the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The NEA Vermont grantees are:

— Kingdom County Productions, Barnet, $50,000

— Dorset Theatre Festival, Dorset, $50,000

— Vermont Folklife Center, Middlebury, $50,000

— Community Engagement Lab, Montpelier, $50,000

— Yellow Barn, Putney, $50,000

— Weston Playhouse Theatre, Weston, $50,000

The NEH Vermont grantees are:

— Vermont Historical Society, Barre, $133,512 for “Preserving and Expanding Access to Vermont’s History”

— Vermont Folklife Center, Middlebury, $97,017 for “Listening in Place: COVID-19 Archival Outreach Project”

— University of Vermont, Burlington, $69,263 for “Virtual Visitor Engagement at the Fleming Museum of Art”

— Sheldon Art Museum Archaeological and Historical Society, Middlebury, $29,362 for “Archives Alive: Building Primary Source Collections During COVID-19”

“We know the competition for federal funds is always stiff, but especially now when the arts and culture sector is struggling,” said Vermont Arts Council Executive Director Karen Mittelman. “These grants to 10 Vermont organizations recognize the incredible value of creativity and artistic practice in the midst of the pandemic, and the vitality that arts organizations bring to our communities.”

For more information, go online to www.vermontartscouncil.org

Talking music

STOWE — Spruce Peak Chamber Music Society will present a three-week series of conversations between Artistic Director Jia Kim and some of the musicians who have played on the Spruce Peak Arts stage over the course of its first two seasons. Learn how each musician is navigating this unusual time, about their artistic pursuits, and get to hear them perform.

Conversations will be released on Spruce Peak Arts’ YouTube Channel throughout the month of July. Though tickets are free, donations in lieu of a ticket purchase to support the Spruce Peak Chamber Music Society and participating musicians are encouraged.

Reservations must be made in advance at www.sprucepeakarts.org

$5M for cultural nonprofits

MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott recently signed H.966, a major piece of legislation intended to deliver $96 million in emergency economic recovery grants to Vermont businesses hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding includes $5 million to the Agency of Commerce and Community Development to distribute to the Vermont Arts Council for grants to the nonprofit arts and culture sector.

The support is for eligible Vermont businesses and organizations who have suffered a 50% or greater reduction in revenue due to the COVID-19 public health emergency and economic crisis in a single month from March 1 to Sept. 1, as compared to the same period in 2019.

The more than 200 organizations and 400 individual artists in Vermont who have applied to the Arts Council for support show current and projected losses totaling approximately $36.8 million.

ACCD has launched an online portal on its website to provide information and accept applications: accd.vermont.gov/covid-19/economic-recovery-grants

Dancers, too

BURLINGTON — In an age of division over politics and values, there is a great need for communities to come together. The Vermont Dance Alliance has heard the cry for connection in this time of unrest, and announces the arrival of virtual programs and opportunities for all who are interested in dancing.

VDA has launched the “Dancing Digitally” series, a weekly feature of its five 2020 Gala choreographers. Each Monday the website event tab will introduce one choreographer: with details on their creative process, samples of past work, and a movement score or prompt for all to experience. VDA will be creating a video compilation of community members’ experiences with the scores, as a way to honor the resilience and strength of the Vermont dance community.

Want to learn more? Join @vermontdance at 7 p.m. every Thursday on Instagram live for an interview with that week’s artist.

For more information, go online to vermontdance.org

Yellow Barn streams

PUTNEY — Yellow Barn has announced its Summer Artist Residency concert series, to be live-streamed from the Big Barn in Putney.

Over the course of seven weeks, 18 resident musicians will explore 43 works of chamber music, each of which will be presented in a live stream concert. From July 10 to Aug. 9, 10 broadcasts will air on Yellow Barn’s website at 7:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. the following day. The concerts will be approximately 60 to 90 minutes in length, and will be presented free of charge on the website.

For full summer season program details, go online to www.yellowbarn.org

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