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Wrapping up a logistics meeting with a local artist, SEABA’s Executive Director Adam Brooks waved me into the conference room. As we talked, I was struck by the contrast with my previous visit to the exhibition hall. As a volunteer during last year’s Art Hop, I witnessed the buzz of anticipation, the flurry of last-minute tasks, and the adrenaline rush of seeing a year’s worth of planning finally come to fruition. Today, however, the space was quiet, almost serene. Adam assured me that it was just a lull between wrapping up plans for the annual Clothes Exchange in mid June and an “Art Under the Influence” event later that week.

Art Hop The three-day South End Art Hop is by far SEABA’s most well-known event. This annual festival has been going strong for 23 years, and this year the Vermont Chamber of Commerce designated it a permanent “time-honored event.” More than 35,000 visitors from around the state and from as far afield as Montreal, Boston, and New York come to take in the Green Mountain–made arts.

Throughout the Arts District, 500-plus exhibitors display their work, including painting, photography, sculpture, woodworking, and more, in every genre and to suit any taste. Little ones can get hands-on in the Kids Hop tent, where art and craft projects open their eyes to the creative process. The STRUT! Fashion Show showcases the designs of local clothing designers as models “strut” haute couture down the runway. This popular evening event

Fusing Art and Industry With its 30th anniversary approaching next year, SEABA (South End Arts and Business Association) stands firm in its commitment to the businesses and artists of the neighborhood. The organization’s mission—Fusing Art and Industry—is evident in its diligent work to preserve and make space for creative entrepreneurs, as well as enhance the South End Arts District as a destination for residents and tourists alike. A major role SEABA has been playing recently is that of an information provider— and sometimes mediator between the city of Burlington and the neighborhood’s businesses—about the PlanBTV South End project. As Adam explains, this section of the city “has grown organically over the past 30 years, and it was difficult at times for [SEABA] members to comprehend, why start this process now? How will this affect my business?” Although the South End constitutes 27 percent of the geographic area of Burlington, the Arts District (also known as the Enterprise Zone) makes up just 4 percent. This tiny portion of the city is the only remaining neighborhood zoned for light manufacturing, makers, and creators, but not for housing, grocery stores, and other residential amenities. SEABA has helped to “create a vibe where entrepreneurs want to be,” says Adam. Though some compromises are inevitable, he stresses that he and the organization have a good relationship with all of the South End’s artisans and entrepreneurs. “We want everyone to be speaking the same language and understanding all aspects of the plan to see how it might affect their businesses,” he explains. Fall 2015 | Best of Burlington 29

Best of Burlington - Fall 2015  

Read about rock star Grace Potter, running the Long Trail, apple picking in Chittenden County and more in the Fall 2015 edition of Best of B...

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