BRATTLEBORO — The Arts Council of Windham County (ACWC) has announced the grantees for this year's Brattleboro Town Arts Fund (TAF) program. Nine community-focused creative projects were selected from a competitive field of proposals received in this fourth year of the TAF program.
According to a news release, TAF “promotes the development and presentation of creative projects that contribute positively to the greater community and to the vibrancy and diversity of Brattleboro's arts and cultural landscape. TAF projects explore social and quality-of-life issues in the community, are collaborative in nature, expand accessibility and visibility for underrepresented artists and audiences, and highlight Brattleboro's unique assets and qualities.”
ACWC said that this year's application cycle continues the shift it made in 2021, in response to the COVID-19 crisis, “by soliciting proposals for relatively low-cost ($1,000–$3,000) creative projects that aim to build connections and share joy, solidarity, and solace in the Brattleboro community.”
Over the past four years, TAF has received more than 120 grant applications and funded 41 creative initiatives, representing a wide range of local artists, organizations, projects, and creative potential.
“There was such an incredible range of proposals this year, and we appreciate everyone who shared their projects with us,” say ACWC chair and vice-chair Sharon Fantl and Chrissy Lee. “We're thrilled to support this year's grantees and to see new works, conversations, and visions emerge from these initiatives. We hope to grow the Town Arts Fund in the future to support more community-focused initiatives and artists.”
The 2023 TAF grantees, with descriptions of the projects, are as follows:
• The Afghan Women of Brattleboro (Jennifer Sutton, Elissa Pine, journalist Ziagul Azimi, artist Negina Azimi) - “In a series of collaborative audio stories, we follow Afghan women who fled their homes after the Taliban takeover, settled in Brattleboro, and are now staking a claim in their new hometown. These stories, collected and interpreted in collaboration with the Azimism will deepen our understanding not only of their experiences, but also of what it means to live in an evolving, diversifying community.”
• The Benevolent Busty Scoot (Jocelyn McElroy, Jonas Fricke, Amy Frost, Saturn Millner) - “A beautiful horse-drawn carriage, hitched to three bikes welded together to create an old-timey futuristic harbinger of positive change of our dreams! A roving apothecary, bike repair service, zine library, and art archive, food distribution, spontaneous puppet show, and More! ... See us at the Art Walk, Saturdays, and when invoked. Collaborators include artists from Buoyant Heart Collective, SuSu Collective, Circle Mountain Farm, and Nik Perry (Sadie's Bikes).”
• Boogie Down Kids! (Jessica Dolan, David Longsmith, Shawn Jones, Janet Ryu, Jeff Diehl) - “Boogie Down Kids is a monthly three-hour DJ dance party for children and their grown-ups to experience the joy of dance and play together. Created to build community, move our bodies, and celebrate children and families, after three years of isolation during the pandemic. We are a multi-cultural collective of parents who have backgrounds in DJ-ing, hip-hop, dance, and event organizing, who believe music and dance are healing and inclusive ways to learn and play as a community!“
• The Brattleboro Community Mapping Project (Amber Paris) - “Join The Brattleboro Community Mapping Project and map what's important to you! Where do you feel alive? Where do you find belonging? Where are you moved by beauty? You can answer these questions and more with colorful pins on a large-scale, evolving map of Brattleboro. You can find the map in the Harmony Lot on First Fridays, at Brooks Memorial Library each month and at select Brattleboro Farmers' Market Saturdays to engage with a new question each month and watch this community map grow.”
• Community Lego Letterpress Event! (Daniel Chiaccio, First Proof Press) - “Join us for a free and open to the public print day located at Pliny Park in the heart of downtown Brattleboro. Participants will be welcomed to create mixed and matched Lego letterpress designs, which can then be printed on a traditional letterpress. Multiple printing stations will be set up, welcoming artists of all levels and ages to create a handmade print to take home.”
• Counting Pebbles (Taiga Christie and Zoe Batson, Faultline Ensemble) - Based on EMS provider stories gathered across the U.S. from 2016–2018, this live theater performance grapples with the unique challenges faced by emergency medical responders. Created by a team of EMTs, WFRs, healthcare providers, theater artists, writers, musicians and disaster responders in partnership with the Code Green Campaign, this play tells stories of responders struggling with trauma, burnout, and the aftermath of a coworker's death.” More information at faultlineensemble.org.
• TRANSCENDENCE: Multidisciplinary Artist Salon (Epsilon Spires and Shanta Lee) - “Epsilon Spires and local artist Shanta Lee present the second installment of the annual Multidisciplinary Artist Salon, a weekend-long residency that brings pioneering artists of color from around the country to Southern Vermont to exchange ideas across a variety of creative disciplines and share their work with the public. The 2023 Salon will explore topics including: the importance of scent in memory and the creative process; cultural appropriation and repatriation of historical artifacts; racial bias of AI facial recognition programming; and the influence of Rumi's poems within the music of contemporary poetry.” More information at epsilonspires.org.
• Queer Clay Play: Monthly Workshops for All Ages (Julien Majonen and Marcie Freeman Becker) - “The world is a scary place for LGBTQIA+ folk right now. We need a place where we can feel safe, connect with each other, and maybe make some weird, super cool art! We're hosting a themed 'clay play' at our pottery studio for LGBTQIA+ folks and their families. We'll explore various handbuilding skills together (for example, self-portrait tiles, animal sculptures, etc), maybe process life a bit, or just play! No experience necessary! Participants will get to create one piece a month to fire and keep.”
• Still Life After Winter (Jodie Masterman) - “Still Life After Winter will take testimonies from community members detailing the memories, moments, and objects that help get them through the cold, dark, and isolating months from October to April. These narratives will be translated into mixed media installations. The anonymously written testimonies will be displayed alongside the artwork, allowing members of the community to read and relate to one another's experiences.”
The Brattleboro Town Arts Fund is a program of the Arts Council of Windham County and is made possible by support from the town of Brattleboro. The Arts Council plans to open the next application cycle for the TAF program in early 2024. Updates about TAF projects and opportunities can be found at artswindhamcounty.org/taf and @artswindhamcounty on Facebook and Instagram.
To support this program and TAF's capacity to fund future community projects, consider a contribution at artswindhamcounty.org/donate.