Photo by Mark Randall Byland.

The BCA board has voted to create permanent voting board seats, narrowing further the opportunity for us to participate in guiding our city’s investment and planning for the arts. The note below was sent today to City Council President Jane Knodell and a few city councilors who’ve been open-minded about what course might be taken to steer Burlington toward a fairer future for our entire arts community. Burlington has the spirit to evolve, and a small effort by the city council to gather the wisdom of our creative community would improve the future for everyone whose lives are touched by arts and culture.

From: James Lockridge <[email protected]>
Subject: Mtg. inquiry.
Date: May 28, 2015 at 2:28:12 PM EDT

Reaching out to seek your wisdom, hoping for a positive path forward (for everyone, including BCA), and you are the best hope for it. I’ve always been optimistic that someone on the city council would open a door to exploring how the city could achieve a next-level in how it supports the arts. BCA has its flaws, and there are strata of data to back that up, but that’s pointless if we aren’t by nature willing to invest ourselves as a community in seeking a better, fairer, position that builds on our success and the knowledge we earn from self reflection. I’ve brought some principles and values to the fore and held them up against BCA and asked if we were meeting our ambition as a city for inclusion and fairness through our arts office. Critique should be invigorating and engage us in self-improvement, but I don’t sense the emergence of something so productive yet.

With a self-electing, non-representative BCA board determining how $800,000 in tax money is spent, in part to compete with local artists/presenters; with the board narrowing opportunities for participation by the local arts community rather than responding constructively to the request to expand inclusion; and with staffing and programs dominated by visual arts programming to the near-exclusion of dance, theater, and music, there are fundamental systemic flaws that could be addressed while strengthening the city, not just repairing it.

These shortcomings are a good thing in that they shine a light on what’s possible, which includes bringing the voices of our boots-on-the-ground artists into the decision-making circle, making it complete; creating a catalyst for public/private partnership that engages multiple local arts organizations at a table serving the cultural interests of the wider community, inclusive of all art forms and proving our civility through collaboration; creating new models for informing decision-making that recognize the need for BCA to maintain fiscal sustainability through philanthropic patronage while serving Burlington arts equitably… the potential for accomplishing something transformative is real. The conversation doesn’t need to dwell in the realm of critique; with your guidance and leadership all of Burlington’s arts could move forward.

Would you be willing to establish an ad hoc committee that includes volunteer members of the arts community, as well as representation from BCA, to help formulate proposals that if acted on could accomplish a more holistic service to the arts? You might find that what emerges is complementary to, and respectful of BCA, while leveraging the experience and talents of sectors that aren’t buoyed by the programs BCA invests in. You might find that the family of arts organizations that make up the ‘ecosystem’ of local arts is creative, dynamic, compassionate, and willing to work together to achieve a greater good, inclusive of BCA as much as the interests of other stakeholders.

Thanks for your guidance, your patience, and for your commitment to achieving the best our city government is capable of. If you’ve read this far, I’ve exceeded my quota of your attention. 🙂

Anyone willing to reach out to Burlington’s city council members in support of this request, please feel welcome to email them at these addresses, published to the city’s web site[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

Photo titled ‘Dodging Bullets’ by Morristown-based Mark Randall Byland, taken May 30 with a Nikon D300 720nm Infrared, Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 at 10mm, 10 Seconds at f/14, ISO 200. More from Mark can be found at Published with permission.

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