Building on traditions developed at Sterling College and The Vermont Leadership Center of experiential education, community outreach, and exposure to the natural world, the Northern Vermont Center for the Arts, Agriculture, and Environment was established by Bill Manning, with the help of his daughter Alison, to bring performing arts and the work of the land together.
The Center will bring arts professionals from northeast metro areas to Vermont’s rural Northeast Kingdom for dynamic short-term residencies. Over a two to three week period, artists will perform and lead workshops while being housed in the local community. Artists will have the opportunity to learn about what supports the local economy, including the revival of a healthy agriculture and forestry community. They will also have time to build outdoor recreation into their schedule, as organized by local guides.
Local agriculture, its history, and the local resources of the Clyde River Valley will be featured at the performance site in the form of kiosks, vendors, and educational displays. Local visual artists will also be invited to display their work and educational materials at performances. Collaboration with the NorthWoods Stewardship Center, Siskin Ecological Adventures, and other local nonprofit agencies will facilitate the integration of ecological themes and the working landscape into the performance site.
Performances will be held outdoors at the site of the historic Round Barn Foundation, one of the largest round barns at the turn of the 20th century, as well as at other sites throughout the region. The barn itself was destroyed by fire in 1917, but the foundation remains, and in 2010 the site was cleared with the help of volunteers and a crew from the NorthWoods Stewardship Center.
The genesis for the creation of this arts nonprofit came from Alison Manning's senior thesis project at Marymount Manhattan Dance Conservatory. She drew on her experiences in the arts world, as well as her natural resource and farming roots growing up in the Northeast Kingdom and at the Vermont Leadership Center (now the NorthWoods Stewardship Center). Alison is now a dance professional in New York and general manager of The Yard on Martha's Vineyard.
Ultimately, The Northern Vermont Center for the Arts hopes to help foster a life-long appreciation for the arts and an understanding of our Northern Forest communities, both natural and human.