Statement of Inequity in Burlington's Support for the Arts

Here’s a statement made by Big Heavy World’s James Lockridge at the Burlington City Council meeting tonight. The city has big plans for development of new arts spaces. We’ll all be glad to have new stages and new opportunities for performances, but have to uphold the interests of artists working outside the boundaries of institutions and production budgets, the real people comprising most of our performing arts community. Our city council are good-intentioned public servants; hopefully they just need this said out loud to begin addressing it. Human-scale attention to arts infrastructure; uplifting our whole arts community at the same time; fostering artists as they develop their craft, not just when they're ready for the limelight; removing barriers — especially financial ones — from engaging one another and sharing performances are all just a start for correcting the imbalance that permeates city support for the arts. Big Heavy World wants Burlington to grow into a shining example of inclusive, meaningful arts support. “People look to the City Council for leadership. I personally assume that leadership has its origin in principles - the fundamental values that steer your decision making.

I hope to experience decision making that shows an honest effort to include everyone in the benefits the city provides, including the things it builds.

The city is planning to build two new stages - one in City Hall Park, one in the Moran plant.

Neither stage, if the current rental and insurance policies of the city are our reference, will be available to young artists, artists with work in development or experimental work; artists who’d share music or spoken word spontaneously with the public; visiting artists, art on the human, interpersonal and non-institutional scale.

The city has overlooked its stages for years and hasn’t supported the performing arts in a way that’s inclusive. As the big new stages are built I would like to propose that you consider making an equivalent investment in including your whole community in the arts.

Build more, smaller public stages that don’t require regulation and administration.

Replace public bulletin boards so the cultural community can accomplish the work of representing itself and its contributions to the economy, so that Burlington and our visitors can see how rich and creative life is here.

Examine the equitability of arts supports in Burlington. Have the millions of dollars invested by the city in the visual arts also supported our performers, and dancers, and musicians as comprehensively and passionately as our visual artists?

I’m proud of our creative community, and glad that the city gives art its attention, but it is necessary to make it clear that principles of fairness and inclusion are being neglected.”