Like the rest of state government, The Vermont Arts Council’s fiscal year starts July 1 and in just a few days I will be out on the State House Lawn with 15,000 of my closest friends celebrating the new year and July 4th weekend.
Only I’m kind of wondering what’s to celebrate…
The news is generally not good. The state is laying off people, so is IBM. The Red Sox are firmly in second place behind the Tampa Bay Rays. The Mountaineers are barely one game over 500, the Ravens have yet to win a game. There are floods all along the Mississippi and bad fires in the southwest. (I’m waiting for reports of pestilence or a plague of locusts before I start rereading my King James Bible.) Algae is doing its thing in the Lake, as is Red Tide off the Maine coast, and green algae off the coast of China where the Olympic sailing venue is.
Vermont last week issued its first-ever Amber Alert. Oil is trading over $140/barrel; gas is well over $4.00 a gallon; and I can “lock in” at a possible $4.89/gallon for my heating oil. I’ve just purchased “green” firewood for $225 a cord (and been told it’s a deal!). A perfectly ripe melon from Shaws just set me back $5.00; they have no more vegetable seeds at Agway so my two pole bean plants that managed to survive a recent attack by a couple of deer have all six poles to choose from in my vegetable garden.
There is just not a lot to celebrate.
Well okay, there’s Andrew Wheating who just became the first Vermonter to ever make the US Olympic Track and Field team. That’s pretty cool. And later this week I head north with my son Flynn to attend the Quebec 400 celebration, part of which will feature not only the Lois McLure but a sampling of some of New England’s finest folk and traditional artists playing the “Grande Place” at Espace 400 in the heart of Quebec City’s old port. That will be a once-in-a-centennial celebration, for sure.
Now that I think about it, and taking a quick scan through the voluminous Summer Arts Guide that Jim Lowe and the Times Argus folks put out about a month ago, there is a LOT to celebrate—or at least to celebrate with. Beyond the usual big name activities (Trapp Family Lodge concerts, Shelburne Farms, Mozart Festival, Marlboro Festival, Weston Playhouse, etc.) there are a host of more intimate things to celebrate: the Adamant Music School and Concert Series, Quarry Works Theater and Unadilla Theater, Music at Guilford, and—even more “local” than these—your basic weekend farmer’s market featuring street performers and works by local artisans.
Most of these events may be found on the Vermont Arts Calendar if you happen to have misplaced your Summer Arts Guide.
But even beyond all that, there are a few things I like to do that for me, celebrate the summer New Year in a way that can only happen in Vermont.
Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors performed in Knight Point State Park up in North Hero is one.
Circus Smirkus’s summer extravaganza is another (I see it in Montpelier but it tours the state).
And of course, the various “Art Fits” events that local communities have dreamed up all over the state is still another.
Okay, there may not be too many reasons to celebrate. But once you’ve decided you DO want to celebrate, you have options…lots of options. Best of all, a lot of those options won’t cost you a lot of money to get to from where you live. They are all over the state.
So, even with gas at $4/gallon, go ahead, celebrate the New Year.
And if you’re a visual artist, watch Artmail for a pretty amazing new commissioning project we are announcing…and celebrate some more.