The Bennington Arts Guild Gallery
338 Main Street
Bennington, Vermont 05201
The Bennington Arts Guild has provided both developing and established artists in our area with a place to showcase their work and create a cottage industry for local artists since its creation in 2008 as a non-profit. (We were granted non-profit status through the Better Bennington Corporation - 03-0280939).
Presently, the Guild's Gallery houses works by 12 members and draws in customers from Canada to Florida. Unlike other galleries in the area, the Guild is an artist cooperative and is staffed and run by the artists whose work is represented. Since its inception, the Guild has given the artist an 80% profit on their work and members pay a small fee for dues. The economic recession and death of a major benefactor forced the Guild's Gallery to move and increase expenditures to cover rent and utilities that have now depleted all of its rainy day fund.
Each month we hope and pray that we have enough revenue to keep our doors open for another month. In an act of desperation we recently sold our display jewelry case to cover a couple of months rent and are having our second raffle to raise money to cover rent for the next 2 months. In addition we will ask members to pay their dues early if they can in order to cover the month of March.
Our artists come from all kinds of backgrounds. One is a multitalented weaver who crafts
baskets, shears the wool from the alpacas that she raises and spins it into yarn skeins and table decor. Another woman artist who creates Byzantine lost wax design eggs and sells the eggs
so that she can make up some revenue from the three years when she was out of work. Six of our visual artists are retired. Social security increase have only risen 3.4% in the last
five years. These artist are trying to sell their works to make what they do have last longer. Some of our new young artists are just beginning their journey with art retail. Their work and
insights bring an added freshness to the Guild. The Guild's Gallery now proudly displays all member work and provides these artist with an opportunity to have meaningful work be involved in the
Bennington Art Community.
The Guild supports the local community, as well; Members participate in such events as Summer First Fridays, the Bennington Arts Weekend and other Better Bennington Corporation led activities. The Guild also has joined forces with Bennington Craft Markets, a newly formed group comprised of the Bennington Arts Guild Gallery, Bringing You Vermont, Cake Gallery, Hawkins House, Mexican Connection and Bennington Potters. The aim of the group is to share ideas, support one another by sending customers to one another, and advertise jointly.
A grant or donations would help the Guild and its gallery in a number of ways. It would allow Guild members to pay their monthly rent and utilities, offer classes to members of the public, increasing community engagement with the arts by allowing members to expand their showcase skills throughout the town.
Most of the grants that we have researched are given to individual artists or to historic buildings. None give support to non-profit galleries or to cottage industry groups. Many hard working people in Bennington survive on minimum income jobs and live below the poverty level. Cottage Industry groups such as the Bennington Arts Guild support the part time artists through the collective. We have had over twenty artists start their own businesses after participating in the Guild. They learned how to market their craft, price their work and understand the process of establishing and maintaining a business. We would like to continue this work.
Below is an itemized list of what the Bennington Arts Guild needs to fund in order to continue in 2016:
Our top priority is to cover rent and utilities for the coming year and to add an advertising budget. These funds will allow us to expand our offerings and keep our storefront occupied with a lively group of creative artists.
Our second priority is improvements to the gallery, including lighting and display pieces.
Finally, adding workshops in our current space will enrich the value of our Guild to downtown Bennington.Funding for our participation in Vermont, Spring Open Studios this May will bring in hundreds of customers from across the country and build our visibility.
Quantifying our value to the community is nearly impossible to accomplish. Your support will certainly be appreciated by our patrons but most of all by our member artists who have invested years in their art and in this cooperative venture.
Jackie Kelly, Chairperson with any questions at 802-681-7497 or cell-802-379-5177.