The mission of the Southern Vermont Arts Center is to make both the visual and performing arts an integral part of the life of our community and region by:Presenting the finest quality exhibitions and performances. Providing education and instruction in the arts. Exhibiting and marketing the work of members artists.Providing opportunities for community service in promotion of excellence in the arts.
Given that the history of the Southern Vermont Arts Center is peopled by heroes and heroines embarked upon a noble quest, it’s tempting to begin with a familiar "Once upon a time…" But no. Although that noble quest begins humbly, succeeds against great odds and ends happily, the Arts Center’s tale is one of real people, with real vision, who made their own magic from a relatively simple plan.
This annual celebration of art relocated to the gymnasium of the Burr and Burton Seminary (now Academy) and continued to strengthen and grow yearly, attracting soon-to-be internationally known talent – Luigi Lucioni and Ogden Pleissner first exhibited in the 1930s; Dean Fausett in 1940; Norman Rockwell joined in 1945. And while art and artists blossomed in the foreground, a group of prominent residents and business owners, looking to insure the longevity of this budding organization, formed the Southern Vermont Artists, Inc.
By the late 1940s, the trustees and the Southern Vermont Artists’ first Executive Director, Richard Ketchum, were actively pursuing a permanent home for the organization. Dean Fausett headed up the Building Committee; as it happened, a piece of property was then under serious consideration – initial architectural sketches were being prepared – when Ketchum heard that the former Webster Estate – the current home of the Arts Center – was for sale for, give or take, $25,000.00. Dean Fausett was vacationing in Mexico at the time.
Raise the money he did, and over two days, July 15 and 16 of 1950, the Southern Vermont Artists accepted the terms of the sale; thanks to a flurry of last minute fund raising and some judicious forestry management, the mortgage amount was reduced to $12,000, payable in three years, at 2%. It was also at those meetings that the name Southern Vermont Art Center was officially adopted.
The ensuing fifty-four years have witnessed growth and invigoration akin to that experienced by the original SVA in the 1930s and, with the addition of the Arkell Pavilion’s wonderfully intimate performance space, the studios of the Madeira Education Center .
P.O. Box .617,
Manchester, Vermont 05254.
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