Vermont creative sector shares impact with state legislators

Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Creative Network, the Vermont Arts Council, Vermont Humanities, and other creative sector supporters from across the state met with legislators at the Vermont Statehouse on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023, as a part of Creative Sector Day at the Statehouse.

Testimony was given in a number of House Committees to demonstrate the power of the arts and culture to transform individual lives, connect people more deeply to each other, energize the economy, and sustain the vibrant cultural landscape that makes Vermont a great place to live and visit.

(L to R): Chantal Raguin and Mary Willems from Generator in Burlington. Generator provided specially made, wood-crafted phone stands.

Julia Doucet, an outreach nurse at Open Door Clinic, was one such supporter. Doucet spoke to lawmakers in the House Committee on Health Care about an art and medicine project she co-founded called El Viaje Más Caro (The Most Costly Journey) to help address overlooked mental health needs of Latin American migrant farm workers on Vermont dairy farms.

The book of the same name, which retells stories from the workers’ perspectives in comic form, was selected by Vermont Humanities as the Vermont Reads 2022 book.

“Our storytelling project has taken on a life of its own and has far exceeded our expectations,” she told lawmakers, describing how comics have proven a powerful modality for immersing a reader in someone else’s life.

Other creative sector supporters testified in House Corrections and Institutions, Human Services, Education, Government Operations and Military Affairs, Commerce and Economic Development, and Transportation.

Generator Makerspace in Burlington brought over 100 wood-crafted phone stands for legislators to take home. Each was specially designed with laser cuts of the Vermont Statehouse and other creative elements by two high school students enrolled in Generator’s Digital Modeling & Fabrication program.

In the House Chamber, Rep. Stephanie Jerome read resolution H.C.R.28 supporting the state’s creative economy. The resolution noted that “over 40,000 artists, architects, brewers, crafters, dancers, and members of other creative professions, as well as support staff, representing more than nine percent of the State’s workforce, are enthusiastically contributing to the State’s emerging creative sector” and that “the arts, the humanities, and creativity are all key to helping Vermont to recover from the pandemic and to address the challenges of racism, climate change, and affordability.”

Also on the House floor, for the devotional, Josh Collier, opera singer and founder of BARN OPERA in Brandon, sang “Bring Him Home” from the musical “Les Misérables.”

(L to R): Chantal Raguin and Mary Willems from Generator in Burlington talk with legislators. Generator provided specially made, wood-crafted phone stands. Credit: Vermont Arts Council

"Creatives in every corner of Vermont are addressing some of our states biggest challenges. Today was an opportunity for lawmakers to learn about just a few of these groundbreaking programs, and how the creative sector serves all Vermonters," said Vermont Creative Network Manager Johanna de Graffenreid.

“It was inspiring to see the Statehouse filled with creative spirit today. Poets, filmmakers, curators, musicians, designers, and creative sector supporters from around the state turned out to demonstrate how arts, culture, and creativity are a vital part of Vermont’s identity,” said Vermont Arts Council Interim Executive Director Amy Cunningham.

“We’re deeply encouraged by the many optimistic and forward thinking conversations that our team had with Vermont legislators about the importance of art, culture, and the humanities in building and sustaining Vermont’s social and economic fabric. Vermont’s legislators clearly understand the critical contributions that artists, humanists, and other creatives provide in making Vermont an excellent place to live and work,” said Vermont Humanities Executive Director Christopher Kaufman Ilstrup.

About the Vermont Creative Network

The Vermont Creative Network is a broad collective of organizations, businesses, and individuals working to advance Vermont’s creative sector. Authorized by the Vermont Legislature in 2016, the VCN is an initiative of the Vermont Arts Council. Learn more at

About the Vermont Arts Council

The Vermont Arts Council envisions a Vermont where all people have access to the arts and creativity in their lives, education, and communities. Engagement with the arts transforms individuals, connects us more deeply to each other, energizes the economy, and sustains the vibrant cultural landscape that makes Vermont a great place to live. Since 1965, the Council has been the state's primary provider of funding, advocacy, and information for the arts in Vermont. Learn more at

About Vermont Humanities

Using the humanities, we connect with people across Vermont to create just, vibrant, and resilient communities and to inspire a lifelong love of learning. Learn more at

2.16.2023. MONTPELIER, VT—Vermont Arts Council