Vermont Arts Council Executive Director to Depart

MONTPELIER, VT—Vermont Arts Council Executive Director Karen Mittelman has announced she will depart at the end of October.

Since joining the Council in 2017, Mittelman has enhanced the Council’s visibility and impact throughout the state, forging new strategic partnerships as well as important alliances with Vermont Humanities and the Vermont Community Foundation.

Additionally, the Council’s investment in Vermont artists and cultural organizations has substantially increased during Mittelman’s tenure, more than doubling the number and amount of grants awarded to artists annually and increasing the scope and size of awards to organizations.

Mittelman’s leadership helped to guide Vermont’s arts and culture nonprofits through the Covid-19 pandemic. Since April 2020, aid from the Vermont Arts Council to Vermont artists and cultural organizations has totaled more than $8 million.

“Under her leadership in an unprecedented and challenging time, the Arts Council is in a strong position moving forward. Karen has forged new partnerships and built dynamic relationships with artists and organizations and funders. During her five-year tenure, she has empowered and supported the staff, and with them, has worked to heighten awareness of the importance of the arts and the creative network to the strength and vitality of Vermont. Hers is a hard act to follow and we will really miss her,” said Board of Trustees Chair Rebecca McMeekin.

“Karen has been the right leader for this moment, and we feel deeply honored to have worked in collaboration with the Vermont Arts Council throughout the pandemic,” noted Christopher Kaufman Ilstrup, executive director of Vermont Humanities. “The partnership between our two institutions has never been stronger, and it has produced incredibly significant tangible and intangible benefits for the field. Karen has had a profound impact on the cultural sector, and we are deeply grateful for her leadership.”

Vermont’s creative enterprises and activities are tremendously diverse, ranging from symphony orchestras to artisan furniture factories, from major employers to small farmers, from individual artists to the venues, suppliers, retailers, and service providers they connect with. For the broader creative sector, Mittelman helped to secure unprecedented state and private support, including most recently $9 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) aid.

In 2020, Mittelman helped to develop and launch an ambitious action plan for Vermont’s creative sector, CreateVT. Hundreds of Vermonters from all walks of creative industries participated in the formation of the plan, which won the 2022 Plan of the Year from the Vermont Planner’s Association. The Plan was instrumental in guiding efforts to secure the additional ARPA funding from the legislature this year.

“It has been a joy and a challenge to lead the Vermont Arts Council for the past five years, to work with our wonderful staff and board, and to support Vermont’s exceptional arts community,” Mittelman said. “I could not be prouder of what we have achieved together. Despite the daunting challenges of the pandemic, the future vision for Vermont’s creative sector is brighter than ever.”

Previously, Mittelman served as director of the Division of Public Programs at the National Endowment for the Humanities. She also held a senior position at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia and served as curator at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

The Arts Council’s board has formed a search committee, which is currently interviewing firms to lead a national search for a new executive director.

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

More Info:

Read this just released Seven Days article to learn more about Mittelman’s tenure at the Vermont Arts Council HERE.