Cultural Plan RFQ

Bennington and Manchester, VT

Bennington County will develop a cultural plan for adoption into Town Plans in order to strengthen, leverage, and coordinate artistic and cultural resources to address community needs and opportunities.

Context and Background
The step to formulate a county-wide cultural plan takes place in concert with the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) process underway in Southern Vermont. CEDS underscores the importance of regional collaboration and coordination in addressing the economic and cultural challenges posed by the region’s declining workforce and population. Drawing on state- and national-level studies, such as the Economic Footprint of the Arts in Vermont (2010) and Creative Placemaking (2010), which highlight the value of the creative economy to community revitalization, both the Bennington Strategic Economic Development Plan (2015) and the Northshire Economic Development Strategy (2016) underscore the importance of mapping, better coordinating, and strengthening art and cultural assets in Bennington County. The County boasts top tier art and cultural institutions, as well as individual artists, craftspeople, and performers. Bennington was named #3 on the National Center for Arts Research Arts Vibrancy Index; Manchester boasts award-winning, international performers every year at the Manchester Music Festival; and the Dorset Theatre Festival premieres Tony Award-winning and new plays that go on to national acclaim every summer. Furthermore, over the past several years, many arts organizations have come together in collaborative models such as the Hills Alive Festival of the Arts to maximize impact regionally in the southern part of the state.

However, a lack of capacity to establish collaborative structures in the arts also presents an immediate obstacle for the regional economy, and prevents the arts as a collective force in the region to build momentum which can impact the economy in positive ways. Both institutions and individuals, as well as official planning documents in the county all recognize that increased coordination and collaboration will allow those in the creative economy to better leverage the available resources and ease the burden, as well as to attract necessary additional resources. The County-Wide Cultural Plan will thus: 1) synthesize the studies that have been done and the many collective conversations that have been occurring within the arts and civic/business sectors in the region; 2) facilitate new collective conversations where necessary; 3) develop a strategic plan that will allow for the implementation of impactful measures where they are concerned.



Zirwat Chowdhury
(802) 445-1330

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