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State of the Arts

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Every five years, the Vermont Arts Council takes stock of itself "in order to be most responsive to our constituents' needs," explains a recent press release. This is one of those years. Got a burning proposal for the VAC? Then attend one of the "Strategic Planning Forums" scheduled around the state this month: January 10, 4-6 p.m., at the Fletcher Free Library in Burlington; January 17, 4-6 p.m., at Catamount Arts in St. Johnsbury; January 22, 4-6 p.m., at the Rutland Free Library; and January 25, 2:30-4 p.m., at the Statehouse in Montpelier.

That last session takes place during Arts Lobby Day, an annual opportunity for Vermonters to meet with their legislators and do a little "representing" themselves on behalf of artists, arts organizations, communities and schools. Or just bring your own pet project to pitch. Info, http://www.vermontartscouncil.org or 828-5422.

Burlington City Arts has named Jennifer Koch as the winner of the 2007 Barbara Smail Award. Known for her quirky multimedia constructions that often include dead - albeit prettily iridescent - bugs, Koch is also a printmaker and owner of Frames for You and Mona Lisa Too. The announcement was made during a New Year's Eve reception at the Firehouse Gallery for the current recipient, painter Catherine Hall.

Established by friends and family of the well-respected watercolorist who died in 2001, the Barbara Smail Award comprises $1000 and use of BCA's facilities - print, clay and craft studios and a darkroom - for one year. It is granted to a midcareer artist "who has a desire to expand his or her creative experience and has displayed an enthusiastic support of his or her peers." Koch is also a new member of 215 College Street Artists' Cooperative, which Hall co-founded last year. Talk about connections.