242 Main Documentary In Production

Photos by James Lockridge.

242 Main Poster Art, Photos Sought

Three organizations are working together to create a documentary video about Burlington’s historic teen center, 242 Main. Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront Department; Big Heavy World; and Vermont Community Access Media (VCAM) have teamed to film the story of the people and ideas that made it legendary.

Burlington innovated when it established 242 Main and set itself on a course to make history by valuing the energy and vision of its youth. 242 Main was founded in the mid-1980’s as a project of the city’s youth office.  It was an adult-supervised venue that offered programming conceived by Burlington’s teens, in an environment that they helped design and build. The teens wanted a place to host live music, so the empty office that became 242 Main also became an all-ages concert venue and for more than thirty years has seized a place in the country’s history because of it. 

Deferred maintenance has caused Memorial Auditorium, the location of 242 Main, to close until solutions for repair or redevelopment are determined through a future process. This leaves the future of 242 Main on an edge, balancing between decades of making positive memories and a future that’s indistinct. The documentary is timely; all eyes are on 242 Main. 

242 Main has had a profound impact on the lives of thousands of young Vermonters. It’s been a safe space for youth on the margins — and their voices — a place where they could be fearlessly creative and share with one another, and where their values and perspectives had importance. It’s a model for for a city’s dedication to youth empowerment. Jesse Bridges, Director of Burlington’s Parks, Recreation Waterfront Department, said, “Making this documentary will help us reflect on the values that are at the foundation of the city’s youth programming. We should all celebrate the success of 242 Main, learn from it, and put that understanding at the center of what we accomplish for Burlington’s teens in the future.” Unedited interviews will help Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Department staff develop best practices for teen-led programming.

James Lockridge, Executive Director of Big Heavy World, said, “242 Main is the city’s voice for diversity in art and the human experience, fostering social bonds and confidence. It’s launched many young people on creative paths that led to fulfilling lives. It has a treasured history of inclusivity and a triumphant legacy of being the nation’s oldest, longest-running all ages punk rock venue.” Big Heavy World administers an archive of Vermont music recordings, photographs, and ephemera.

The artistic direction and videography of the documentary will be the work of Bill Simmon, Director of Media Services at VCAM. Bill is immersed in Burlington’s music community and produced the 2016 buzz-band documentary “High Water Mark: The Rise & Fall of The Pants," a selection of the Vermont International Film Festival, screening October 22, http://vtiff.org/events/vermont-filmmakers-showcase-8-3/. Bill said, “This is a dream project, bringing together so many years of what makes Burlington special. The energy put into creativity and music-making at 242 in the 1980s is partly responsible for Burlington's amazing and much-celebrated music scene in the 1990s.”

Big Heavy World is currently coordinating interviews and gathering the historic artifacts that will help illuminate 242 Main’s history. Anyone who felt their experience at 242 Main played an important role in their lives is invited to contact info@bigheavyworld.com. Posters and photographs are urgently needed, especially from the early years of 242 Main. Scans can be sent to info@bigheavyworld.com where they’ll be curated for the documentary and other 242 Main commemoration projects. 

“Preserving 242 Main’s legacy will give us critical proof of the unequaled purpose it provides the city,” said Lockridge. Bill Simmon followed, “It was an alcohol-free place where cool things happened, on the stage, in the parking lot… it's a piece of Burlington history that deserves to be celebrated and preserved.” A 2017 release is anticipated.

For more information:

Jesse Bridges, BTV Parks Recreation Waterfront Dept., jbridges@burlingtonvt.gov, (802) 864-0123

James Lockridge, Big Heavy World, jim@bigheavyworld.com, (802) 865-1140

Bill Simmon, VCAM, bill@vermontcam.org, (802) 651-9692

RVIVR Audience, 2014 at 242 MainAbout Burlington Parks Recreation Waterfront Dept: The Department of Parks, Recreation and Waterfront oversees all of Burlington’s 37 parks, 550+ acres of open space, public beaches, street trees & greenways, community gardens, cemeteries, and the Miller Recreation Center, Leddy Ice Arena, Memorial Auditorium, a campground, and Boathouse Marina. The department stewards these diverse and dynamic public spaces to inspire and inclusively bring people together. enjoyburlington.com

About Big Heavy World: Big Heavy World is an independent nonprofit music development office working to archive and promote the original music of Vermont. With a crew of mostly high school and college-aged volunteers, it publishes information about Vermont’s music industry, loans a tour van to bands, archives thousands of Vermont-made recordings and photographs, and operates 105.9FM, a radio station highlighting the region’s creative community. bigheavyworld.com

About VCAM: VCAM’s mission is to promote free speech, civic engagement, government transparency, and public dialog by inspiring and enabling easy access to storytelling through media making.  VCAM teaches the use of media tools including how to broadcast television content on channel 15 and radio content on 99.3FM, WBTV-LP in Burlington, Vermont. vermontcam.org