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Arts for Everyone: River Arts of Lamoille County, Vermont

By Joshua Grammer

Tracy Goldfine of River Arts says, "River Arts formed in 1999 as the result of a community planning forum that set creating an intergenerational community arts center as a top priority for the cultural and economic development of Lamoille County. From the start, Arts for Everyone has been our guiding principle. River Arts has been committed to making the arts accessible for everyone no matter their age, ability or financial means. We are determined to ensure that cost will not prevent program participation, an operating value that sets us apart from many similar organizations."

Some of the great events visitors can witness and partake in with River Arts include French conversation, blacksmithing, ceramics, photography, filmmaking, concerts, and even open mic nights for singing and poetry. It is more than art and fun to Goldfine. She sees it as an extremely important asset to the community. She explains, "Art is a vital resource for any community, as it helps create a sense of place, builds social capital, advances economic growth, opens dialogues for decision making, and improves quality of life for residents by generating a sense of shared culture and community belonging."

River Arts is a fully functional property with classrooms, kitchen space, and exhibition areas. It is even available to rent for special events. Throughout the week, there are classes for both children and adults, and the interested can enroll in figure drawing, poetry clinics, or other artistic forms. For a more kinesthetic art-form, there are options to enroll in a community-generated class, such as pilates, dance, or even yoga - all taking place at the River Arts Center.

Aside from weekly events, River Arts hosts summer camps and other special events throughout the year. When asked about one of her recent events that she enjoyed, Goldfine spoke about a very special event River Arts hosts for preschoolers. "River Arts' Kinder Arts Program is an early arts education program that brings weekly direct arts experiences to preschool classrooms in Lamoille County throughout the school year. Kinder Arts provides opportunities for creative expression and exposure to new materials and topics to aid in early social, emotional, and physical development amongst preschoolers. It is amazing to see how process-based art making enriches preschool curriculum and promotes active engagement in learning. From an early age, these students are learning to express themselves in a healthy way and explore their creativity." The program will begin its third year, and has served over 300 local preschoolers with a diversity of experiences including photography, sculpture, and printmaking."

Much of the work River Arts does is free or donation based and they seek to continue to make art accessible to everyone.

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