Southern Vermont Arts Center promotes and nurtures the arts by creating an inviting environment for the community to meet, enjoy, and participate in the arts. Shaw’s has supported the Southern Vermont Arts Center Team through the GIVE BACK WHERE IT COUNTS Reusable Bag Program.
Tell us about Southern Vermont Arts Center.
We were founded by a loosely organized group of artists in 1952 when they purchased the property where we currently reside. The Southern Vermont Artists are the nucleus of our artist member program. Since our founding, we’ve grown and expanded and become more than an artists’ organization.
The Southern Vermont Artists are the nucleus of our artist member program.
The Southern Vermont Arts Center (SVAC) promotes and nurtures the arts. Our multidisciplinary arts organization offers exhibitions, performances and education for all ages. Programs are hosted for our artist members to help with their continuing development. The Center also has visual and performing arts classes for hobbyists and beginners, offering programs to the broadest segment of the community. The visitor experience is participatory as well as cerebral. There is art making, viewing, showing and selling. We also have a sculpture park, walking trails and a destination restaurant.
What services do you provide to the community?
Education is first and foremost; it is a vital part of Southern Vermont Arts Center’s operation and continues to build a community of active artists. SVAC offers a variety of workshops and classes for adults of all levels of experience taught by skilled artists in various mediums. For young artists, SVAC has a selection of arts-themed camps and classes, ranging from theater to bookmaking to art found in nature.
Education is first and foremost; it is a vital part of Southern Vermont Arts Center’s operation and continues to build a community of active artists.
The Southern Vermont Arts Center allows people to participate in leisurely activities through the arts. We also provide opportunities to see and participate in the performing arts. Being able to offer our community meaningful art exhibitions that are interesting for all ages and walks of life is essential to our organization. Visitors can take a self-guided walk through the sculpture park and trails. We have a hundred acres on campus for the community to use however they want.
What sets your organization apart from other nonprofits in your community?
In our small community, we are the leading destination for visual and performing arts. Our large hundred-acre campus with a high-quality restaurant really sets us apart. Not many arts organizations are as uniquely equipped as SVAC is.
Tell us a story that illustrates your organization’s good work.
During the start of the pandemic, we wanted to think more broadly about how to offer educational programs safely and do things for our community, particularly for kids. In the early days of the pandemic, children were sitting at home in front of a screen. We wanted to do something to get kids up and out.
We partnered with a Vermont performing artist, Troy Wunderle, to offer a circus camp. It was encouraging to be able to safely practice the performing and circus arts and be physical again. Because of our location, we could do most of this programming outside or in our semi-open-air pavilion.
It was encouraging to be able to safely practice the performing and circus arts and be physical again.
The feedback that we got from parents was so heartening. Here is a quote from one of our participating parents. “Our child tends to be very shy. But in this program, something was really instilled. It was awesome to see her wake up, ready to go every morning and join in without hesitation. We will absolutely sign her up for any and every circus camp you hold. Seeing her perform was WOW! A highlight of parenthood.”
Things like this make us feel so good and that the work we’re doing is meaningful. In the arts, you don’t necessarily get to see how what you do changes lives. This programming does in many little ways.
What is your most outstanding achievement or contribution to the community?
Southern Vermont Arts Center is particularly proud of our Art Backpack Program, initially born during the pandemic. Art teachers were struggling because they didn’t have the resources to get art materials to every child. At the beginning of the pandemic, there was much concern about touching and handling shared objects, so sharing art materials wasn’t an option.
SVAC wanted to support our local art teachers and schools. Our team devised the Art Backpack Program, where we created individual backpacks filled with art supplies. And we also created online lessons with some of our guest instructors and artist members. They would use Zoom to be in the schools and do lessons related to our exhibitions and sculpture park. All in all, we distributed about 300 backpacks and partnered with 11 schools. This brought SVAC off campus and into the classroom to support art teachers in ways that they needed at that moment.
All in all, we distributed about 300 backpacks and partnered with 11 schools.
What do you want people to know about Southern Vermont Arts Center?
We are here for the community as an arts-based facility. Southern Vermont Arts Center is located on a beautiful campus. And we are open year-round. Everyone is welcome at SVAC, and we have programs for every age, ability and interest. Come visit, come participate.
How are you using the funds you’ve received from the Shaw’s GIVE BACK WHERE IT COUNTS Reusable Bag Program?
We have used the funds from Shaw’s GIVE BACK WHERE IT COUNTS Reusable Bag Program broadly for our educational efforts, which are at the heart of what we do. These funds assist with all our educational programs and scholarship offerings. We are proud to be able to waive things like admissions fees for local schools that want to do curriculum-related tours. And the earnings from the Give Back program help us with these family and student-based educational components.
These funds assist with all our educational programs and scholarship offerings.
Is there anything you would like to add?
If you want more about SVAC, please visit our website at www.svac.org. You will find all the essential information about our programs, performances, and exhibitions and even a link to OpenTable to make reservations at our restaurant.
Published March 20, 2023.