By Aaron Retherford
Heather Bryce, Artistic Director and Founder of Bryce Dance Company, wanted to infuse the Arts into the center of Montpelier. If next month’s Montpelier Project pulls off what it sets out to accomplish, Bryce and all those working with her, will do much more than that.
The Montpelier Project is a one-month residency that will run from March 3 to April 4. The project launches with a community dinner/dialogue and a visual art reception from 6:30 to 9 p.m. March 3 at the City Center Atrium. The project ends with a multi-media performance event that Bryce hopes will energize the Montpelier community and encourage locals to reflect on what makes Montpelier a special place to live. It also serves as the anchor event for the first weekend of the Community Engagement Lab’s “We are Montpelier” project.
“I think March is a challenging time for a lot of people in Montpelier because there’s not a whole lot going on,” Bryce said. “I think it’s great time for people to come back into the community with each other. I also think in general people don’t think the Arts are always accessible to them, so that’s why I wanted to bring the Arts into the center of town. Every event we’re doing is free. It’s really giving the town this opportunity to come into direct participation.”
During the one-month residency, Montpelier-area residents will be treated to a wide range of artistic outlets – all with the theme of “My Hometown”.
The Sunday and Tuesday night series will showcase music bands, dancers, artists, and even comedians. The Skinny Pancake will host Tuesday night community dinners where attendees will be encouraged to discuss what makes Montpelier unique. A workshop series run by local artists will be held on Saturdays. During the entire month, there will be a visual art installation on display in the City Center Atrium. A dozen visual artists will participate in that project alone.
The community is invited to participate in open dance rehearsals to be part of the culminating performance piece with the Bryce Dance Company.
“It’s been really nice to know that they’re all communicating and in collaboration with each other, especially for the April 4th performance. That’s been really amazing,” Bryce said. “I’m working with people I’ve never worked with before that were recommended by friends. We’re creating this brand new thing that will go up in town. I feel like it’s creating community.”
Bryce also said the reflections by the community throughout the project can help the city and businesses create focused marketing strategies to appeal to locals and visitors. The project will be documented from start to finish, allowing people to relive the month by watching videos and looking at pictures.
Bryce raised nearly $2,300 with a Kickstarter campaign to go along with business partnerships and a Goddard Alumni Arts Project Award to fund the project, which she hopes will become a yearly event.
“We’re really excited about it. I think it’s a unique opportunity for people to come out and see what the local scene has to offer in terms of the Arts,” Bryce said. “I’m also incredibly excited about that Saturday workshop series because people are really invited to directly participate.”