Enlarging its image
The floor plan for the VCF’s new, larger, and accessible space.

Enlarging its image

The Vermont Center for Photography is in the home stretch of raising money for a move to larger — and accessible — space in downtown Brattleboro

BRATTLEBORO — The Vermont Center for Photography (VCP) has announced plans to upgrade to a bigger - and accessible - space at 22 High St., in the Midtown Mall building on the corner of High and Green streets.

The 23-year-old nonprofit organization is “dedicated to promoting the photographic arts in many different ways,” Executive Director Joshua Farr said, noting that the move is its largest project to date.

For many years, the organization was known for its gallery space and its “rotating exhibitions, both of local, regional, and some nationally known photographers as well,” he said. VCP, now at 49 Flat St., lets people come in and use a traditional black-and-white darkroom to develop film or create prints in the traditional manner - hands on.

The organization also offers workshops and classes for different photographic processes and invites artists to talk about their solo exhibits in the gallery. It also offers a library of photography books and can provide digital printing and scanning services, and it is in the process of creating a digital lab classroom space.

Farr has been the only employee, though he does have some part-time help and the efforts of the nonprofit's board of directors.

“I'm the everything guy,” he said. “So I do everything from curating the exhibits, to installing the exhibits, to coordinating workshops and classes.”

Building it out

VCP has discussed moving to a bigger space over the years, but “we never really quite found something that was the right fit for us, [with respect to] location or square footage or just the different amenities and access that we needed,” Farr said.

“So we had looked at a few spaces, but nothing really came of those. We kind of just carried on for another year or two,” Farr said.

The organization wanted new space to be fully accessible to all, “for obvious reasons,” he added.

The new space will be better for large public events, with movable walls that can open up larger spaces, almost doubling the capacity of its current location.

It will also be “really customized to our very specific needs,” Farr said.

“The beauty of moving to this new space and not having to work with what we have here is that we're going to be gutting the space and starting to build it out,” he noted.

Farr says the $80,000 budget for this project comes almost exclusively from private donors and local individuals. A small portion comes from the organization's thrift store, which sells donations of current, vintage, or antique photographic equipment that are not otherwise useful for the VCP's programs. All profits go to the general operating costs.

Within the past few days, Farr has opened the space to the public, and, as of May 18, the organization's website reported that donations have reached $66,000, which is 82 percent of the project's goal.

“And so we're in the home stretch now trying to wrap up the last bit of it and get us across the finish line,” Farr said.

Emerging from Covid stronger

Farr is hoping the space will be fully open this August or September.

The Vermont Center for Photography is planning an opening party, with more details to come in the summer.

“It seems like, despite many of the challenges that Brattleboro has faced in the last year, year and a half with Covid, it seems like there are many arts organizations and other businesses in town that are really looking for ways to come out of this even stronger than they were before,” he said.

“And we'll certainly have lots of new things that we'll be talking about pretty soon, in the coming months,” Farr added.

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