Governor Peter Shumlin
109 State Street Pavilion
Montpelier, VT. 05609
Dear Governor Shumlin:
Now that our state has received funds from the federal government to create jobs and a comfortable economic climate, I would like you to consider a group of Vermonters that perennially receive very little help—people who use their creativity to make a living. They are writers, artists, photographers, singers, musicians and crafts people who are often overlooked, economically, by town and state governments, and receive minimal help from foundations. Too many Vermonters believe that artists can survive on air alone.
I am a 75 year old photographer and writer. The reason I have survived is that I work seven days a week, my family is grown, and I have Medicare and Medigap insurance. I could apply for food stamps. Most of my cash flow is put right back in my business, into property taxes and into fuel oil and propane. Well, this year I hope the bank helps me out of a hole.
Photographers are seeing their income drop in half as photo agencies that license our images have drastically dropped the fees they charge to attract more clients. Vermont writers in this state make on the average about the minimum wage if they do the rewrites and editing necessary to meet professional standards.
Why not, Governor Shumlin, utilize these people as the government did in the Great Depression? They assigned photographers and artists to document rural life and writers to create the best guide and history books ever written on our states.
Now more than ever Vermont’s way of life should be recorded. Such a project would show how necessary it is for Vermont to recognize, preserve and sometimes improve a rural and small town culture that is becoming unique in America. Truly we are an endangered species and would probably receive more attention if we were all spotted leopard frogs.
There are other benefits. In my case I want to database a 50-year span of photographs taken in Vermont. Many other Vermonters have photographs, illustrations, art and cartoons that document our current cultural life. These works, a history of our times, should be captioned, scanned, placed in a database and put on line as a history of Vermont. Such an archive could become part of a state or university library and fodder for books, films, educational tools and media documentaries.
To organize and create this history of images requires archivists, scanner and computer technicians, and designers, not to mention photographers, writers, editors, publishers and printers. Bookshops and galleries would benefit.
So would all of Vermont, for we would be displaying, conserving and promoting that personality that has made Vermont and Vermonters so unique and I am not talking of the tourist mystic too often promoted by our state.
Author and Photographer