Arts Without Walls

Getting creative while staying distant

Art builds community.

Especially in the Northeast Kingdom, where creativity is central to so much of what happens. Our shared experience, expressed in music, poetry, dance, paint, or other forms helps us recognize common themes and celebrate what unites us. 

Dancing to music on the shore of Island Pond. Joining friends for a movie at Catamount Arts. Taking the kids to a museum. Feeling the joy in a crowd of hundreds during a standing ovation for a great performance. The arts bring people together. 

What’s to be done when those together experiences are out of reach? It’s a question the people responsible for the Northeast Kingdom’s arts and cultural attractions are wrestling with right now. There’s no getting around the fact that a lot of NEK arts events aren’t going to happen this summer, and that hurts. But who better than creative types to get creative in a time like this? 

Here’s a sampling of how some of the NEK’s creative destinations are reaching beyond their physical walls to provide artistic and cultural nourishment even as doors remain closed.

Old Stone House Museum, Brownington

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While its buildings remain closed, the museum campus opened May 13. Its collection and resources are available through virtual tours, online classes and workshops. Gardening, woodcarving, rug hooking, and knitting are among the offerings planned. Kids’ Fridays will continue with to-go activity kits available each Friday of the summer, including lunches in collaboration with Green Mountain Farm to School. And in July, the Museum will begin construction on a one-mile trail around the nearly 60 acres of rolling pasture and woodland that surround the historic village.

Catamount Arts, St. Johnsbury

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Catamount serves as a hub for dozens of artistic ventures and events around the Kingdom, and has taken that online. Their weekly video series CATAMOMENTS takes you behind the scenes with artist interviews, cool stuff to do, and peeks towards the future.  They’ve launched a Virtual Cinema where you can rent independent and foreign films from your home. Catamount is also curating Kingdom COVID Chronicles—a community-wide art project chronicling the experiences of NEK residents during the pandemic. 

Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium, St. Johnsbury

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While the Museum’s galleries, planetarium, classrooms, and offices are dark, its staff is busier than ever. Museum educators are producing about three hours of original content each weekday

You can join them for a Wildflower Walk, build your own ECO critter collection, and learn the science behind the weather from Eye on the Sky meteorologist Mark Breen. If you’ve got nature-loving kids at home, or want to expand your own natural horizons, make a virtual visit.

Highland Center for the Arts, Greensboro

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The Show Must Go On(line)! HCA is keeping us connected online through a series of artist interviews, studio visits, creativity prompts and a crowd-sourced online Gallery, Pigment & Paper, to keep us all engaged. Perfecting your musical chops during Stay at Home? Toss in your talent to HCA’s Battle of the Bandwidth, for a chance to win a concert on their Main Stage. 

Step in to the virtual walls of these places, enjoy these resources, and support these institutions financially if you can. Now more than ever we appreciate how the arts feed our souls.

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