Somewhere along the way I came to live and breathe the understanding that our humanity is best felt and shared through art, and that ‘art’ was a koan and ineffable token for all the beauty and compassion we could know or reveal.

My professional life has been dedicated to creating opportunities for young adults to experience the discovery of themselves by pursuing their creative passions and absorbing those of the friends and artists around them. I sound a starting gun to dare them to follow glimmering threads of curiosity; for learning to accept and value diversity in the world around them and decide confidently about personal tastes and values; and to also decide, ultimately that their voice has a resonance and purpose that no one other than themselves could have shown them. The oxygen feeding this reaction has been art, and more specifically, music.

Our modern life is complex and raw. My politics buckle socialism to libertarianism and I champion progress toward intelligent, compassionate, cooperative civilization-building. “Down with the nanny-state, up with humanity meeting its potential as a species.” I realize nothing is simple and opinions vary.

You’re the maraschino cherry coal (the match of Jerico)?
That will burn this whole madhouse down
And will not throw open like a walnut safe
More like a love that’s a bottle of exquisite stuff, yes

— Cocteau Twins, “Iceblink Luck

With all that as a background, in the course of being optimistic and making a best effort at positive change, I’ve learned that through inattention, lack of oversight, willful self-preservation, greed, and lack of ethical housekeeping, some dangerously sharp corners of Vermont arts policy are poking through the fabric of complacency. When it comes to the arts, our integrity is fading in the sun, and the readily fulfilling life I hope for, for all Vermonters, is further from their reach than it needs to be.

This blog is personal and a happy place. Consider it to be the beat-down gray basket on my front porch where things — all kinds of things — are left for or left off by neighbors; the neighbor being you. Welcome to an exploration of what’s right and what might be wrong with arts in Vermont, and have a hike with me in the direction of the (often difficult) conversations that are the threats and milestones on the adventure in the wilderness of our state’s relation to the arts.

Glad you’re here, no matter who or why. — James Lockridge

Photo by Jeff Howlett, Howlermano Photography.

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