The state of craft in the state of Vermont
As I mentioned in this post, I resigned from my full-time job of 4 1/2 years. I am definitely going through a period of adjustment, trying to figure out what it means to be a full-time artist (what it seems to mean so far is that I get to clean my studio and sort through the evil piles that accumulated during the holiday season. Meh).
An obvious concern of mine is how the timing couldn’t be worse for a career shift – as you all know, the economy sucks right now. On top of that concern (for me) is how the nation’s financial picture is affecting the world of craft. In general, artists tend to live close the edge, financially-speaking. It must be even harder now for artists to stay in business. As much as I would love for artists to be eligible for bailouts, it just ain’t gonna happen.
On a local level, I’ve become very aware of how not just artists are struggling, but arts-related businesses are as well. Yesterday I had to drive to Shelburne, VT to pick up my inventory from the Shelburne Craft School Gallery, which recently closed after five years in business. I really loved the gallery’s visual presence…very elegant. With their skill, they could make an old sneaker look good.
Frog Hollow also closed their Manchester gallery last year. Their Burlington and Middlebury galleries were hit hard by declining economy and they are in danger of being closed as well. As a frequent visitor to Church Street, I can attest to the significance of Frog Hollow’s presence there – they are a highly visible representative of the amazing talent of the residents of this state. That’s the thing that really breaks my heart – when a gallery closes, it’s not just one business that’s impacted – all of the artists exhibiting their work there are affected as well. Frog Hollow alone claims to represent over 250 Vermont artisans in their galleries – that’s a lot of businesses losing income.
Now if only the state of Vermont would invest money in promoting Vermont craft in the way it has for the maple industry…