VERMONT FOLKLIFE CENTER

Rating: 5 stars   7 reviews

Issues: Arts & Culture, Education, Health

Location: PO Box 442 Middlebury VT 05753 USA

Mission: The Vermont Folklife Center, founded in 1984, is a private, non-profit organization that is headquartered in Middlebury, Vermont. Our mission is to engage and document individuals and their cultural heritage, allowing their voices to be heard. Through this process we foster respect, encourage dialog, and strengthen communities.

Write a Review

Promote This Nonprofit

GreatNonprofits badges allow you to raise awareness of your favorite nonprofits on your own web sites!

Review this charity on
GreatNonprofits

Community Reviews

Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

I'm an anthropologist with special interest in folk song.
It took a long time for Vermont to be recognized as a place where important folklore was to be found. When the first major collection of vernacular songs from Vermont’s Atwood family was published as part of the Schirmer “American Folk-Song” series, the major ballad scholars, such as Cecil Sharp, were still scouring southern Appalachia thinking that was where the old ways of singing had survived. And they had, but the 1919 book by Edith Sturgis and Robert Hughes showed that Vermont was also a vital place to look. This was shown in the 1930s when Helen Hartness Flanders took up her work.

The impressive value and the generosity of the Vermont Folklife Center was revealed to me when I started a project to explore the place of the Atwoods’ repertoire in American singing history. The workers at the VFC immediately supplied me with recordings made by Margaret MacArthur in the 1960s of the son of James Atwood, the central figure collected by Mrs. Sturgis. They gathered together and opened up all of the materials they had with anything related to the Atwoods or Sturgis’ and were gracious and helpful in enabling the research to continue. Thus far it has resulted in several descendants of Edith Sturgis becoming involved, searching family dwellings for papers, photographs and files connected to their grand-mother’s activities. One grand-daughter has reprinted the original 1919 book of the Atwoods repertoire and included a set “Poems” written by James Atwood about his friends and neighbors and documenting life in Dover, Vermont from about 1880 to 1920.

All of this is in addition to a CD recording of the Atwood songs, the several concerts presenting the songs and verse, and accompanied by projected photos and talk about the fascinating set of characters involved in preserving this invaluable Vermont lore.

My story, of course, covers only one example of the legacy of the Vermont Folklife Center in saving and restoring these irreplaceable gifts back to the people of Vermont. We are very fortunate to have such a talented and devoted crew of workers in charge of these crucial parts of Vermont’s heritage.

Anthony G. Barrand, Ph.D.
University Professor Emeritus and
Professor Emeritus of Anthropology
Boston University


More Feedback

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

2009 -2011

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Hire more people and put them in a larger building. It's a big task they have and are doing it well with their current resources.

Rating: 5 stars  

I began working informally with the Vermont Folklife Center in 2008 when I exhibited an documentary photography project in their Vision and Voice Documentary Workspace Gallery. I discovered that my "approach" to documentary work mirrored the "ethnographic" field research concepts that form the foundation of the organization. I've gone on to learn about, and participate in, a diverse array of programmatic activities run by the organization, including the Discovering Community Summer Institute, the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program, High School/Elementary media outreach, and much more. While the popular notion of "folklife" congers scenes of "old things"- both activities and people- the Vermont Folklife Center is anything but. Whether it's working with Somali Bantu refugee communities to support New American artists, or piloting service learning projects in schools, the Vermont Folklife center is up to relevant and exciting things.

More Feedback

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I've personally experienced the results of this organization first as a partner and collaborator- now as a staff member.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Improve the general public's perception of what the organization does-- archiving and exploring history is only part of the story-- the organization is really involved in shaping/impacting the present and future for students, teachers, and the larger community.

Rating: 5 stars  

My interaction with the Vermont Folklife Center has been a wonderful, thought-provoking experience. Through their Fieldwork program I was able to learn the basics of field recording and conduct interviews with elders in my Vermont town. These interviews greatly enhanced work I was already doing in photography, and helped create a richer legacy of information about life here. The staff has been continually supportive and a joy to work with, from the most nuts and bolts aspects of interviews up through interpreting the meanings of experience through people's stories. I feel honored to add my local stories to those of Vermonters from all over the State, and the massive archive is a treasure for all.

More Feedback

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

organizing and mounting a traveling exhibit, with the Vermont Folklife Center as homebase.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

make the archive more easily accessible on-line.

Rating: 5 stars  

For 24 years, The VT Folklife Center has reflected the essence of Vermont's working and cultural traditions. I've had the honor of serving on the Board, once at its beginning and then again currently.

My experience in producing indigenous folk music gave me a deep appreciation of the organization's commitment to preserving and presenting the stories, skills and traditions of Vermonters.

Very much worth a visit in person to our home in Middlebury or to our archives online.

More Feedback

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

spending time in the archives, appreciating the fabulous collection of stories

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Strengthen its endowment to enable it to expand its work, especially as Vermont communities diversify with new cultures from Nepal, Bosnia, Somalia and other parts of the world.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

A lot

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

How did you learn about this organization?

I was the original chair and helped start it out of the VT Council on the Arts

What is this organization's top short-term priority?

Expanding its audience reach and engaging more educators and Vermonters in understanding and sharing their stories and cultural traditions.

What is its top priority in the long run?

Stabilizing the archives and ensuring their access to all

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

Review from Guidestar
Role: General Member of the Public
Rating: 5 stars  

What a treasure the State of Vermont has in the Vermont Folklife Center! A wealth of stories and photographs, a vast archive of audio recordings, an apprentice program to maintain traditional arts, and an exciting summer institute for educators- just to mention a few. Plan a visit soon!





More Feedback

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the Discovering Community Summer Institute, as an alumnI I found that the community based ethnographic research learned changed the vision and scope of my educational work with middle school students, as well as the lens of my own experiences.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

hope that more funding would expand all that the VFC does and open new areas for future exhibits, recordings, and community outreach.

Review from Guidestar
Rating: 5 stars  

The Vermont Folklife Center is the premier custodian and promoter of the traditional folk arts in Vermont. Has been for over 30 years. I have been honored to support, donate, work with, cheer, and benefit from this astounding organization as a presenter, musician, dance leader, educator and consultant throughout Vermont. They are hands down one of the most important organizations we have in the state.

More Feedback

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

many ways over 30+ years...... the organization and its staff have assured that Vermont folk arts and the people associated with those arts are highlighted, valued and known.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

ensure that every school, organization and individual interested in Vermont's cultural heritage, past, present and future knows about and supports the work being done.

Rating: 5 stars  

The VFC works hard to preserve and celebrate Vermont's history. It is a strong supporter of community and the people who create it. The exhibits at the VFC harvest the richness found in the depth of Vermont culture and share it with all of Vermont.

More Feedback

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

The VFC brings what seem like small issues into the limelight making the ordinary extraordinary.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

If any changes should be made I would hope for more funding so that they can do more oral histories, exhibits and expand upon what they are already doing so well.

Write a Review for This Nonprofit

Far exceeds expectations
Exceeds expectations
Meets expectations
Below expectations
Far below expectations
Rate this nonprofit:
1000 characters left