The Valley Arts Foundation has partnered with the University of Vermont’s Learning Communities Initiatives class to conduct a research study on the arts in the Mad River Valley.
“As the foundation expands to a year-round organization, we want to identify who and what are the arts in our community. Who is making art? What organizations promote the arts? What businesses support the arts?” said director Karen Nevin. “If we identify and define the arts in The Valley, then we can better achieve our mission: supporting the communities of the Mad River Valley by encouraging and promoting participation in the arts.”
Three UVM students are working with the Valley Arts Foundation on this project. The students have designed three surveys. One will gather information on the artists living and working in The Valley. The second will survey Valley arts institutions, including schools, galleries, theater groups and foundations. The third survey asks Valley businesses about how they are directly or indirectly affected by regional arts activities. Businesses include retail stores, restaurants, inns and lodges. These surveys will be conducted using multiple formats, such as online questionnaires, community forums and one-on-one interviews.
“The Mad River Valley is known for outdoor recreation and local agriculture. Its economic picture includes general tourism, the ski industry and professional services. Recently, there has been another economic factor at play: the arts. Our Valley hosts the Vermont Festival of the Arts, the Green Mountain Opera Festival, the Mad River Valley Craft Fair, three theaters (summer and year-round), an independent movie theater, a new dance studio and numerous working artists and craftsmen. Along a single one-mile stretch of Route 100, there are 19 studios, crafts shops, museums and galleries. By defining the arts to encompass all artists, producers, consumers, residents and businesses, the Valley Arts Foundation seeks to create a whole new reason for people to visit The Valley year-round,” Nevin explained.
The UVM Learning Communities Initiative course gives students an opportunity to take an active role in local projects addressing a variety of essential community issues. Working on this project with the Valley Arts Foundation will provide them with experience in gathering community data, conducting interviews with local artists and organizations and learning to collate and analyze the information received.
The surveys will be available at www.vermontartfest.com soon. Everyone is encouraged to participate in the survey that most represents them (artist, organization, business). Some people will receive personal invitations to take the survey, others will be asked for an interview. The goal is to get as many people to take the survey as possible. Once all the data is collected, the Valley Arts Foundation will make the results available to the community.
“With this information, we will be able to understand to what extent The Valley supports an arts economy and how the Valley Arts Foundation can better promote it,” said Nevin. “Encouraging visitors to come to the Mad River Valley year-round because of our extensive arts offerings will benefit everyone.”