When we last visited Brattleboro, VT, more than a dozen years ago, we thought: “Cool town, good bones, lots of potential.” But beyond a small number of off-beat shops and tiny bistros, there didn’t seem to be much happening, especially compared with “our” river towns, Lambertville, NJ and New Hope, PA. Here in the Delaware River Valley, Chamber of Commerce members, politicians and other interested parties had long since grasped that one of the area’s greatest economic resources was its large supply of artists. It’s that type of insight — understanding the power of a creative, arts-driven LOCAL economy — that has transformed Brattleboro and other Vermont towns into thriving destinations, despite the ongoing downturn.
Localism at Work
Vermonters apparently began recognizing the potential of art to revitalize local economies sometime in the early 1980s. The transformation didn’t happen overnight. But, over time, the efforts of state and local arts councils, renovators, business owners and, of course, artists, began to pay off. Brattleboro and many other Vermont towns and villages now complement outdoor recreational attractions (skiing, hiking, mountain biking) with a vibrant mix of small, independent shops, galleries and sophisticated restaurants showcasing locally produced foods. Read more