It had been my intention to conclude my eight-week hiatus from blogging by crafting an essay that would respond to all the national issues that have been pressing upon the arts all summer long. From macro issues, like Climate Change and the assault on public arts financing in places like Kansas, to micro issues, like how kids are engaging in creativity through their smart phones, it has been a summer of significant, blog-worthy events.
Hurricane Irene, in less than 24 hours, has changed everything.
First, my heart goes out to communities like Brattleboro, Rutland, Wilmington, Grafton, Bennington, Brandon, Waterbury, Woodstock, Quechee, and Richmond. From large towns to tiny hamlets, from major arteries, like Rtes 4, 7, and 9 to small nameless dirt roads in more than half of its counties, Vermont is reeling from the effects of Irene’s rain.
Certainly, one of the hardest hit towns is Brattleboro. The photos alone are enough to make one cry.
Vermont, however, is resilient. By noon today, the New England Youth Theater posted, “We're very optimistic! We will put a flood info page on the website as soon as we can, and we'll keep you updated on how you can help! Classes will still go 9/12!”
This from an organization that, less than 24 hours ago, had several feet of water in its lobby…
So all we can do is do all we can. To start with, we need to inventory as much of our cultural infrastructure to determine how bad things are so we can start prioritizing our response. If you are associated with any cultural facility that was affected by Irene, please let us know what its/your status is by clicking here. Please include a couple of pictures as well.
During the next few weeks, Council staff and trustees will be touring the state. We’re going to try to get to as many locations as we can and make sure that any state response that includes FEMA, DOT, or other appropriate federal and state agencies, includes our arts and cultural businesses as well. By the way, this inventory should also include galleries, artist studios (especially where the studio has a commercial presence in a town), and non-traditional venues like farmers markets.
Finally, here are a couple of resources (CERF+ and American Institute for Conservation) for those of you with immediate needs.
Good luck, and please remember to reach out to your neighbors. It’s what brings out the best in us all.