SoVT Dance Festival hosts economic panel discussion


BRATTLEBORO >> The Southern Vermont Dance Festival will host a discussion the Creative Economy and Access in the Arts with Gubernatorial Candidate Matt Dunne and other panelists on Thursday, July 14, at 6:30 p.m. at 118 Elliot St.

The Opening Reception of the 4th annual Southern Vermont Dance Festival will have food and a meet and greet with this seasons choreographers and will be followed by a panel discussion. Tickets in advance of July 12 can be purchased at the discounted rate offered to festival pass holders and includes food, meet and greet and panel discussion.

Well known now is that the Southern Vermont Dance Festival began as a response to Tropical Storm Irene and the Brooks House Fire as a way to celebrate dance excellence, and show off Southern Vermont's performing arts community and as a long term economic driver for the community. After three successful years of growing this festival and feeling the community impact, SVDF will spend its fourth and fifth season hosting discussions, getting the word out, educating and talking to our community, businesses, artists and governments about the importance of arts in the community and the importance of government, business and artists all working together to create an economy that works.

Gubernatorial Candidate Matt Dunne is poised as a politician, a former employee at Google and with training in the arts himself to talk about all three. A former actor himself with training in the field and having started and worked with youth theater programs, Dunne has seen first hand the impact of arts on the community and the importance of attracting "the creatives" to a community because that is a key element to make the community thrive. Matt has served on the boards of the Vermont Arts Council, was a founding board member of the Vermont Film Commission, and is currently a board member for The Center for Cartoon Studies.

Dunne is a lifelong Vermonter who grew up in the same Hartland farmhouse where he and his wife, Sarah, are raising their three children. Dunne was first elected to the State House at age 22, and after seven years was appointed by President Clinton to lead AmeriCorps/VISTA, managing a 6,000 person corps providing targeted programming to empower people out of poverty. Most recently, he spent eight years at Google, working from White River Junction, overseeing the investment of millions of dollars in affordable housing nationwide.

As a politician he is committed to bringing Bernie Sanders' vision to fruition in Vermont — with targeted plans to raise the minimum wage, fight poverty, implement universal healthcare, guarantee equal pay for equal work and make government more transparent.

Also joining the panel will be the Festival's own director, Brenda Lynn Siegel. She will discuss her transformation from dance educator, choreographer and artist to focusing on how the arts, business and government can work together to have the most fruitful economic outcome available. She will also share what she has learned about the resistance of all three to work together and the growth of collaborations that have begun to happen in the Brattleboro community.

The panel will discuss the risk in not working together and the best way to make sure that all succeed for economic growth.

"In Vermont we ride on agriculture and the arts, therefor we can't continue to have farmers and artists struggle, nor can artists ignore the community in which they effect," said Siegel. "Working together creates the best possible outcome and when the government comes in and says 'Hey, we are going to put more money and more promotion into tourism and supporting the creative economy.' That is when the true sweets of the labor begin to show. It really takes all three."

In addition to the panel discussion, in the first hour of the reception many of the 2016 choreographers will be present to mingle with, discuss their role at SVDF and their role in the dance world. One can network with them and learn more about them as artists. The work of a choreographer often goes without deeper knowledge of the artist behind the work.

"Choreographing is like being the painter, the dancers are the paint, the stage is the canvass," said Seigel. "Choreographers are painting a picture, writing a story, designing space. Yet choreography is momentary, it is fleeting, it never looks exactly as it did the last time and it often disappears after it is shown."

Purchase your tickets in advance for $15 and $25 at the door. For more information, visit


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