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November 2015

Hello Vermont Visual Artists and Crafts Council Members,

I'm writing to you to let you know what's ahead in 2016 and to tell you what we have been doing on your behalf during the past year.

In 2015 the Vermont Crafts Council celebrated 25 years of serving those creative people whose handmade art work reflects the authenticity and distinctive character of Vermont. By providing education, networking and marketing support, our goal is to ensure that fine art and craft will always be a vital element of the Vermont brand identity.

Our largest member group, by far, is comprised of individual makers, but we also represent event producers, galleries, and educational organizations throughout the state. We connect the Vermont visual arts community to three important groups: the general public, other artists and craftspeople, and divisions of state government that promote Vermont's products and tourism.

Though it may seem that the Vermont Crafts Council exists only to produce Open Studio Weekend, we do a lot of other work that is not as publicly visible.

2015 - 2016 — NEW INITIATIVES

Visual Arts Economic Impact Study & Needs Survey. As an outcome of the Craft Leaders Group meetings and planning, a visual arts economic impact study was undertaken and produced by the State of Vermont (and not yet released). In addition, the Vermont Crafts Council has created a survey to better understand the needs of the current visual arts community. BENEFITS PROVIDED: We can make the case that visual arts and artists bring value to our state and should be supported and nurtured. Knowing the current needs and directions of our community helps us target this support.

Picture Promotion — Open Studio Weekend gives us the opportunity to promote Vermont art and artists via pictures of their work. The Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing seeks high quality, large pictures from us in order to promote the event. We collect both large and small versions of your images and pass them on to the press and the state when asked. We also post on our Facebook page, on Pinterest, publish images in the Studio Tour Guide and on our blog and press page. BENEFITS PROVIDED: We have become an important promotion partner for the state's tourism staff getting them images when they need them, often at very short notice and getting your artwork out in front of the tourist public that seeks activities in Vermont.

Changing Up The Spring Conference

Responding to calls for a change in the focus of our Spring Arts Marketing Conference, we put the spotlight on Creativity for 2015. Our keynote speaker moved us through a number of reflection and goal setting exercises. After hearing from a panel of younger artists about their art making practice, we enjoyed two hands-on workshops lead by our accomplished teacher artist members. BENEFITS PROVIDED: Reviewing areas of strength and challenge can renew your artist self and rejuvenate your business practice.

Mentors and Mentees

In order to provide support for newcomers to Open Studio, we recruited experienced open studio participant volunteers to coach them. BENEFITS PROVIDED: Newcomers will have someone in their medium to answer their questions and ensure a more successful event.

In addition to these new initiatives, we also produced two Open Studio Weekends, created and distributed 35,000 maps, developed a new fundraising plan, and maintained and updated our website to be Google guideline compliant.

To have accomplished all this, you might imagine that we have a robust staff and lavish budget. Instead we still have a tiny office, a part time staff and a volunteer board of directors, most of whom manage their own arts businesses. We need your help to continue our tenacious advocating for you, the visual arts community.

Success (but we need more)! Last year we acted to create new streams of funding that do not depend on membership and event fees. We created our first appeal for donations from our fans and approached corporate sponsors. These efforts were successful but we still need a bigger reserve of funds that allows us to build new programs and to expand our services.

How You Can Help

1. Don't wait until the last minute to register for Open Studio Weekend. The earlier we know you are on board, the better we can plan to promote you.

2. Tell your artist neighbors about us. Or tell us about your artist neighbors — we will send them an information packet.

3. Make a Donation. If we have helped you in the past year, please give back to us! Any donation is tax deductible.

4. Buy an Ad in the Vermont Studio Tour Guide — You can get a lot of exposure for $160 and this gives us more promotion dollars to spend.

5. Upgrade to an Enhanced Page — For as little as $5 - $8 a month you can add images and text to your member page on our website. More info in Your Choices, enclosed.

Act Now. Return your membership and Open Studio registrations. Incentive! Any membership or Open Studio registration received before December 1st will be entered into a raffle for a free ad in our Vermont Studio Tour booklet.


Martha Fitch, Executive Director

Vermont Crafts Council - PO Box 938 - Montpelier VT 05601, (802) 223-3380

Location: 104 Main St, Suite 4, Montpelier

VCC Board: President - Greg Drew, Vice President - Jim Fecteau, Treasurer - Sandy Ducharme,
Elissa Campbell, David Stone, Judith Reilly, Becca Webb, Jessica Putnam- Phillips, Jennifer Boyer.