MONTPELIER—The Vermont Arts Council announces $1,931,000 in awards to 85 creative sector organizations and businesses in its final round of funding through the Creative Futures Grant program, marking the end of this unprecedented investment in Vermont’s creative sector. The program has distributed more than $8.8 million to 233 organizations and businesses across the state since December 2022.
Supported by funds from Vermont’s share of the American Rescue Plan Act, the program aims to provide relief to one of the state’s economic sectors hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic. Funding of up to $200,000 was available to Vermont-based creative economy nonprofits and for-profit entities, including sole proprietors, demonstrating economic harm caused by or exacerbated by the pandemic.
Funding amounts were based on 2019 (pre-pandemic) operating revenue and could be used for any regular operating expenses, including but not limited to payroll and benefits, utilities, rent, and insurance.
The program was the first time that the Council had the ability to grant funds to the full creative sector, including for-profit businesses.
Distributions were made in three rounds, which began in January 2023. Applications that were not funded in one round could be reconsidered in subsequent rounds.
Applications were evaluated by external review panels for severity of Covid-19 pandemic harm, community and cultural impact, and economic impact.
In round one funding, announced Jan. 5, more than $3.6 million in grants to 49 creative sector recipients was awarded, which included 15 creative sector for-profits.
In round two funding, the Council received 134 new applications and 98 applications to be reconsidered from round one. Total eligible requests equaled $5,572,500.
In the third and final round of funding, the Council received 53 new eligible applications, 60 resubmitted applications, and 73 applications to be reconsidered from previous rounds. Total eligible requests totaled more than $3 million.
Of the 85 recipients, 38 were nonprofits and 47 were for-profits. Recipients were from across Vermont and represented all seven segments of the creative economy: performing arts; visual arts and crafts; culture and heritage; design; film and media; literary arts and publishing; and specialty foods. The highest category was performing arts (37 recipients).
Recipients represented a range of organizations, from for-profits like Mark Lackley Furniture Maker in Hartland, Kingdom Creamery in East Hardwick, and US Sherpa International in Winooski; to sole proprietorships like Align Film in Waterbury Center and the Museum of Everyday Life in Glover; to large nonprofits like Highland Center for the Arts in Greensboro, Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, and Yellow Barn in Putney; to smaller nonprofits like Stowe Jazz Festival and Wonderfeet Kids’ Museum in Rutland.
Vermont’s creative sector lost millions in revenue and thousands of jobs during the pandemic. Though the worst of the crisis may be over, the state’s core cultural organizations continue to struggle to make up for lost revenue, reach sometimes hesitant audiences, and invest in new ways to present programming—both safely indoors and innovatively online. This summer’s catastrophic flooding has continued to create significant challenges for the sector.
“This historic investment enables business and nonprofits in Vermont’s important creative sector to find their footing once again and plan for the future. As this program comes to a close, we are grateful for Vermont’s legislature and Governor Phil Scott who recognized that a healthy and vibrant creative sector ensures a bright and resilient future for Vermont,” said Vermont Arts Council Executive Director Susan Evans McClure.
The Creative Futures program of the Vermont Arts Council was made possible by a grant from the State of Vermont through the Agency of Commerce and Community Development’s Department of Economic Development.
About the Vermont Arts Council
The Vermont Arts Council envisions a Vermont where all people have access to the arts and creativity in their lives, education, and communities. Engagement with the arts transforms individuals, connects us more deeply to each other, energizes the economy, and sustains the vibrant cultural landscape that makes Vermont a great place to live. Since 1965, the Council has been the state’s primary provider of funding, advocacy, and information for the arts in Vermont. Learn more at www.vermontartscouncil.org
About the Vermont Creative Network
The Vermont Creative Network is a broad collective of organizations, businesses, and individuals working to advance Vermont’s creative sector. Authorized by the Vermont Legislature in 2016, the VCN is an initiative of the Vermont Arts Council. Learn more at www.vermontcreativenetwork.org