The Bennington Area Arts Council’s mission is to champion a thriving cultural economy through sponsorship, promotion, support, and encouragement of cultural activities, events, and organizations.
The Bennington area is a hub of cultural activity with attractions and opportunities for people of all ages. Artists and performers choose to live and work here because this community values their social and economic contributions.
The Bennington Area Arts Council began as a collaborative effort of the Better Bennington Corporation Arts Committee and local leaders in the arts industry to leverage our arts and cultural assets as an economic and intellectual driver. Following the 2012 visit from the Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD), the committee expanded and became the Cultural Bennington Planning Committee. During their visit, VCRD identified four community priorities. Arts and culture came in at number five, so the Cultural Bennington Planning Committee took it upon themselves to explore cultural planning possibilities.
In 2013, the Cultural Bennington Planning Committee and the Better Bennington Corporation partnered with The Town of Bennington and The Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce to host two cultural summits. Through community discussions facilitated by the Bennington County Regional Commission, they identified five strategies to strengthen the creative sector:
1. Create an Arts District/Anchor
2. Strengthen the relationship between schools and the arts community
3. Strengthen and consolidate marketing efforts
4. Develop a broader involvement of government and business in arts and culture
5. Form a Cultural Committee/Arts Council
The Cultural Bennington Planning Committee continued to meet regularly and gained traction within the Bennington region. The committee grew and colloquially adopted the name “Cultural Bennington” and hosted monthly mixers for artists, performers, business owners, and residents to meet and exchange ideas.
In 2017, the group merged with the Bennington Area Arts Council and adopted its 501c3 nonprofit status, creating opportunities for partnerships and funding for the area’s creatives. The Bennington Area Arts Council (sometimes shortened to “the Arts Council”) has since established a rotating Board of Directors and various ad hoc volunteer committees that enable the organization to achieve its mission.
Mike Cutler, Co-President
Nina Wugmeister, Co-President
John Shannahan, Treasurer
Bennington Area Arts Council Board Meetings are open to all BAAC supporters. Meetings are the third Thursday of every month at 8:30 a.m. at 215 South St. in Bennington.