Thank you so much for your support of our work to connect with people across Vermont. As we come closer to our 50th anniversary in 2024, we ask you to dig deep to support the humanities in
This has been one of the stranger years on record for Vermont’s cultural organizations – and just one in a string of very challenging years, albeit a period filled with many lessons about improving access and inclusion.
On July 10, we were thrown back into crisis mode, as torrential rains damaged thousands of buildings around the state including dozens of libraries, museums, galleries, and other cultural organizations.
After the floods, we again stepped into leadership to assist with recovery efforts across Vermont. We are so grateful to the many Vermonters who contributed to our 2023 Floods Cultural Recovery Fund – we have now awarded $400,000 in flexible emergency support to flood-damaged institutions to help them build back stronger.
As the year’s end approaches, we are also reflecting on the great success of our one-book reading program, Vermont Reads. Last year alone, over 100 communities participated in projects centered on The Most Costly Journey, a comics collection featuring stories of migrant farm workers in Vermont. So many commented that we changed the conversation by sharing the experiences of an often-unseen population.
In other work, our Vermont Early Literacy Initiative is connecting with public libraries to build stronger partnerships with educators serving our youngest learners. The energetic Deep Cuts: Fall Festival challenged hundreds of Vermonters to experience something new during National Arts and Humanities Month in October. Through our Snapshot Series – formerly known as First Wednesdays – we are bringing accessible humanities opportunities right into your living room while also offering the option to gather in person.
Largely due to your generosity, our state-wide grant-making program placed thousands of Indigenous and Native American books in schools across Vermont through the Gedakina Bookshelf Project, helped the Shelburne Museum create programming and exhibits for youth and adults with sensory processing differences, and funded Two Daughters Productions in telling the stories of Afghan refugee women who now live in Brattleboro, among many others.
2023 may have been challenging, but the humanities are thriving in every corner of our brave little state, and we’re deeply proud of the work that we have accomplished. With your support, we will continue this great work in 2024, our 50th anniversary year.
Looking ahead, we are planning an exciting partnership with Vermont’s Cartoonist Laureate, two-time Eisner Award Winner Tillie Walden, who will serve as the first Vermont Humanities Cartoonist-in-Residence working on a special Vermont history project to be announced very soon.
In 2024, we will welcome acclaimed young adult authors Kekla Magoon and Dan Nott, both National Book Award finalists, and Malinda Lo, the 2019 winner of the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and author of our 2023 Vermont Reads selection, Last Night at the Telegraph Club, for multi-day residency programs reaching youth and adults across Vermont.
Our ongoing collaboration with the Vermont Secretary of State and the Center for Cartoon Studies will produce more accessible civics resources for all ages. We are proud to be partnering with the National Endowment for the Humanities on United We Stand: Connecting through Culture, which is responding to hate speech and extremism through Humanities Council projects in all 56 states and jurisdictions.
Throughout the coming year, we will celebrate our past while looking to the future with a number of special events celebrating the past 50 years. We will engage with young leaders of today and also honor the elders and ancestors who built our foundations. Keep an eye on our channels for invitations to 50th anniversary events happening across Vermont in 2024.
Please give now! It is only with your support that we can continue to bring the humanities to street corners, town halls, libraries, and schools across Vermont. Thank you.
Christopher Kaufman Ilstrup
P.S. Give today at www.vermonthumanities.org/donate, and join us for a Farmers’ Night event at the Vermont State House on Wednesday, February 7, 2024 during Black History Month. Kekla Magoon, author of Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People, will be our Keynote Speaker, and she will be joined in conversation in the well of the House by Shelly C. Lowe (Navajo), Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities!