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Vermont’s Creative Sector Launches Action Plan To Enhance State’s Cultural Economy

Members of Vermont’s creative sector recently launched an action plan to highlight the expansiveness of the industry and its importance to the economy.

The Vermont Arts Council’s CreateVT Action Plan for the creative economy notes that such businesses supply 9.3 percent of Vermont jobs and in 2019 arts and culture contributed $1.1 billion to the state’s economy. Over the past three years the Vermont Creative Network has been drafting a plan to enhance opportunities and grow creative industries.  A recent virtual meeting launched the CreateVT Action plan for public comment.  Catamount Arts Executive Director and Vermont Creative Network chair Jody Fried said the creative arts are ubiquitous across the state.  

“The building blocks for a thriving creative sector are here but it won’t materialize on its own," Fried said. "Vermont needs a coordinated collaborative approach to moving this sector forward. This plan aims to do that and more. We believe that arts, culture and creativity are just as essential to Vermont’s future as roads, bridges and broadband. Treating our arts culture and creativity as essential infrastructure means we will see corresponding increases in statewide investment and resources. We envision a future where everyone from community members to state leaders recognize the essential nature of the creative sector and invest in it accordingly.”

Democratic Vermont Congressman Peter Welch attended the virtual launch meeting. Last year he introduced the Save our Stages bill and has supported the performing and cultural economy. He said the arts are vital in every area of the state.  

“Isn’t it the work of the artistic endeavor to help us understand our world?" Welch said. "Through all forms of artistic expression. There’s economic benefits with a vibrant arts scene. But there’s real spiritual benefits as well. So the arts have never been more important. This is money well spent. And at the end of the day we want to have a successful transition from COVID back to communities that are vibrant. So the focus on the arts is about saving our downtowns, saving our rural communities, so that they’re vibrant places.”

Community Workshop is a Vermont consulting firm. Senior Planner Rebecca Sanborn Stone cited a national study that determined even before the pandemic job growth and earnings in Vermont’s creative sector has remained about half the national average so the plan’s goals focus on enhancing the creative economy.  

“In our vision arts, culture and creativity are essential Vermont infrastructure," Sanborn Stone said. "Our process carried this vision forward to create nine goals and many many strategies. In that first theme around essential infrastructure we have three major goals. The first is to develop resources to support the creative sector. It’s about education from cradle to grave. And it’s about policy. Making sure that our policies support and encourage creative sector activities.”