Journalist Fran Stoddard traveled to France last week with a group from Burlington City Arts to celebrate the Lake Champlain Quadricentennial. The group has since returned to the States. Here's Fran's final post from abroad. Click here for her earlier posts.
Saturday, May 31: The trip wraps up
Doreen Kraft, executive Director of Burlington City Arts and I ventured to a Paris district that has a large immigrant community, some gang activity and subsidized housing. We hadn’t seen much graffiti in the city, but it was here. It's also where the city recently invested in an art center to encourage creative activity in the area.
It is substantial and beautiful (see photo, with Doreen). The Center has studio space, theater and dance rehearsal and performance spaces, a cinema, an art gallery, boutique, library, a preschool and some residences. We saw a good number of artist types hanging out, a movement class going on and were able to peak into one studio. The government continues to significantly subsidize the arts, museums and centers like this one which received 75 percent of the cost through the government. Still, according to Doreen, they have begun to work more aggressively at private sector fundraising out to keep up during the economic downturn.
A ten-block flea market set up for three days right next to our hotel is a good spot for last minute gift shopping before our farewell dinner. No one here seems to know who Samuel de Champlain is, but they sure know Obama! “I love Obama!” a vendor shouted out and a number of others turned to chime in. We heard it often, 85 percent of the French people approved of him when he was elected and we heard that he is even more popular now.
The trip has been packed and I have yet to get a full night’s sleep. Maybe that will have to wait until I’m back in Vermont, because tonight I just might have to take in the daily midnight light show on the Eiffel Tour or a glass of wine at a tiny café table on the street while I soak up the last of this nation and its people, connected in many ways to Vermont. Au revoir!