Arts groups join to showcase work of Black performing artists in Vermont

The Clemmons Family Farm in Charlotte is joining with Catamount Arts in St. Johnsbury for a performing-arts program in the Northeast Kingdom that will promote greater racial equity.

The 18-month program will showcase the work of Vermont artists of African descent and model how Black-led and white-led arts and culture organizations can collaborate, according to a news release from the Clemmons Family Farm.

The farm is one of a handful of Black-led nonprofit arts-and-culture organizations in Vermont and supports a network of nearly 200 Vermont artists of African descent. Clemmons Family Farm provides arts and culture programs for schools and is a working farm with 60 acres of agricultural land and a nearly 60-acre forest.

Soon after the protests began in Vermont and around the world following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police last May, the farm was “inundated” with requests to deploy black artists to engage with communities, according to Lydia Clemmons, president of Clemmons Family Farm.

“I believe that all of these requests were well-meaning, but the sense of urgency we observed sometimes felt like it was more about making a quick public display of Black artists and less about engaging in dialogue to learn about ways to truly value and empower Black artists and Black-led arts and culture organizations,” Clemmons said in the news release. “We want to help lead and build a diversity and equity initiative in Vermont’s arts and culture sector that doesn’t end when the performance is over and the audience goes home.”

Catamount Arts wants to “redefine the traditional power dynamics that have been in place historically,” according to Jody Fried, executive director of the Northeast Kingdom’s largest arts organization.

“An important component of addressing systemic racism,” Fried said, “is for community organizations like Catamount Arts to establish equitable partnerships with organizations that are led by our BIPOC peers.”

More: Community rallies to save Burlington performing-arts space

Contact Brent Hallenbeck at [email protected]. Follow Brent on Twitter at

This article originally appeared on Burlington Free Press: Arts groups join to showcase work of Black performing artists in Vermont

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