The Vermont Creative Network frames its work inside two best practices as it advances the creative sector:  Collective Impact and  Results-Based Accountability.

In its June 2017 inaugural report, the Network identified the need for effort in three broad areas:

  1. measuring and reporting progress on common outcomes
  2. developing a creative sector systems map
  3. developing a sector-wide common vocabulary

Common Outcomes

At the 2017 Network Summit, participants charged three task forces to focus efforts in these areas:

infrastructure

Expanding Vermont’s creative economy requires effectively utilizing “hard” infrastructure such as schools, studios, community arts spaces, galleries and maker spaces; and “soft” infrastructure including technical assistance providers, educators, online sales and communication platforms, and marketing initiatives. The infrastructure task force should map Vermont’s creative assets with two goals: to identify opportunities for collaboration and to increase participants’ awareness of the resources available. The task force could start by identifying basic categories of hard infrastructure assets and asking zone members to identify these assets in their zones. Soft infrastructure could similarly be assessed by analyzing the services and resources available to creative sector participants

identity

The identity task force could illustrate the central role the creative sector plays in improving the lives of Vermonters by attracting visitors to the state and providing businesses with a competitive edge in an economy that values creativity. The task force could develop a method to collect and utilize impact stories showcasing how the creative sector adds value. Additionally, it could also identify key statistics about the economic and social impact of the creative sector. The task force should combine the qualitative and quantitative data into a simple narrative for use in advocating for the arts at the state and local level. This clear representation of the impact of the arts could also be used by the investment task force as they seek to attract funding to enhance the sector.

investment

Vermont’s creative sector should build a strategic partnership that will allow it to pursue significant philanthropic and/or corporate support. An investment task force could work to increase statewide levels of investment in the creative sector through the development of joint funding initiatives. The task force could begin by identifying strategic partnerships between sector stakeholders, identifying potential funding sources, and learning what types of projects excite potential investors. The taskforce could be informed by the identity and infrastructure task forces and develop funding requests for statewide projects that address the creative sector’s strategic needs.

The Systems Map

The goal is to quantify what Vermont’s creative sector is and how its many parts inter-relate. To begin, the sector can depend on six avenues for change identified by over 1,000 Vermonters in community forums and surveys. Vermonters support using the creative sector to advance quality of life issues in:

  • Community
  • Education
  • Funding
  • Leadership
  • Technical Resources
  • Visibility

Common Vocabulary

The Network steering team is now led by three officers. The team is currently exploring communication tools and language. For instance, Creative Ground, developed by the New England Foundation for the Arts, is a data and research tool that offers two immediate benefits to Vermont creatives:

  1. individual, organizations, and businesses can develop profiles to use socially
  2. robust, specific-to-Vermont facts and figures on the state’s creative sector (as well as to creative economies in the five other New England states.)

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