Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ready? Set? Open...

It's been around since long before I became director of the Arts Council. It has grown much bigger than even the tallest mountain in Vermont. It has its roots in dozens, if not hundreds, of Vermont communities. It is one of the quintessential Vermont happenings that define our collective character. And this year it is turning 20 years old.

Happy Birthday, Open Studio Weekend.

And while I'm at it, a big shout out to Martha Fitch who is the brains and the heart of this magical event that this year involves more than three hundred artists and artisans throughout the state organized by region and by type.

This annual event is a celebration of all artists and artisans--yes, even those who for a variety of reasons aren't part of the official tally of participants--who call Vermont home. Many of the participants view this as one of their primary "retail" opportunities; to connect with either an in-state or out-of-state buyer, and make enough sales to carry them through and beyond the summer season.

In most cases, artists and craftspeople open their own studios, but increasingly groups of artists are collaborating with each other; renting out empty storefronts for a short period of time, experimenting with ways to extend the luster of Open Studio Weekend by gracing an otherwise shuttered downtown street with their vibrant and colorful presence which reminds us, ultimately, of why we need art in our lives.

For the Department of Tourism, this event kicks off the Summer Travel Season which extends through fall foliage in mid-October. During these 4 1/2 months, Vermont shows off its plumage in a variety of ways. First is Open Studio Weekend, followed in short order by the Discover Jazz Festival, The Vermont History Expo, July 4th Celebrations everywhere, Yellow Barn in Putney, The Vermont Symphony's Summer Festival, Vermont Mozart Festival, Music at Marlboro...

...well, I am going to get in trouble because I can't possibly list the hundreds of extraordinary artistic offerings Vermont offers up in this column, nor have I even mentioned all the recreational and site-specific events and festivals that are out there to be enjoyed. But you really should keep track of what's going on in Vermont by visiting the statewide arts calendar frequently. It's worth your while

And after all, this post is about the Open Studio Weekend.

One of the ways the Open Studio Weekend is celebrating this anniversary is by working with the Bennington Museum to create a 50 year retrospective of the Vermont Crafts movement. State of Craft is an extraordinary exhibition that opened last weekend and will run through October and is absolutely a must for everyone this summer. Plan your staycations now, and be sure to include Bennington on your itinerary.

Well, that should do for now. Enjoy the coming weekend. Enjoy the summer. It may be short but it's packed!

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A follow-up to my last post on the Sales Tax issue (scroll down).

The final legislation was a little bit different than the draftI first reported on. It turns out the law will not change the current exemption for schools or student performances, but the law will go into effect on April 1, 2011 and not June 1, 2011 as I had been led to understand. Performances by artists after April 1, 2011, but who are under contract by June 1, 2010 will be also exempt from this law.

We will soon be dropping an organizational survey to ascertain how many arts organizations are likely to be impacted by this law--so please be on the lookout for it and get it back to us as soon as possible. Thank you!

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