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Burlington City Arts “Fusing a dynamic relationship between the arts and the community” By Noah Detzer

11/10/2018 10:24AM ● By John Gales

Art Scene

Burlington City Arts

“Fusing a dynamic relationship between the arts and the community”

By Noah Detzer

Photos Courtesy of Burlington City Arts


Burlington City Arts is one of Burlington’s many hidden gems, nestled right next to City Hall at 135 Church Street. The BCA Center, previously the Firehouse Center for the Visual Arts, hosts a variety of incredible art exhibits throughout the year and features many contemporary and local artists.

If you’ve been on Church Street this summer, you’ve most likely seen Crystal Wagner’s rainbow-colored textile installation, Traverse, snaking its way up the side of the building in a flurry of colors and circular patterns. Her creation is a vibrant collection of bright reds, yellows, blues, and greens, but while this installation might be the most eye-catching, it’s only one of many exhibits BCA offers the public.

Nurturing Creativity – Igniting Passion

Last summer, BCA underwent a major expansion, and its education studios moved to a new location at 405 Pine Street, directly across from ArtsRiot. The new education studios provide a kinetic energy, with numerous individuals coming in to work in the print studio, throw pottery, create silk screens, make jewelry, or develop photos. The place feels vibrant and alive—even without the hundreds of campers and camp programs that cycle in and out throughout the summer.

Doreen Kraft, Burlington City Arts executive director, talks about its place in the Burlington Arts scene. She notes that BCA has created many new community assets over the past 35 years since its humble beginnings in the basement of City Hall. And with more than 21,000 individual visits in the last year alone, BCA’s considerable growth as a community staple is evident.

“Our vision,” Doreen says, “is to fuse a dynamic relationship between the arts and the community.” Her goal is for BCA to nurture the area’s creativity and imagination, and to ignite a passion for learning through the arts. That passion is clearly manifested in the many programs that BCA offers over the course of the year, including openings for each new installation, the outdoor summer concert series in City Hall Park, the always-memorable Festival of Fools, and last winter’s First Night celebrations.

Another Reason People Want to Come Here

The relationship between the arts and the Burlington community can be seen in a variety of ways. But Doreen notes that most important is the artists whose creations make it all possible. She says, “Our vibrant, welcoming, and engaged community is why people want to live and work here. And our artists are the building blocks of Burlington’s success.”

Doreen’s vision for BCA can perhaps best be summed up in two words: possibility and accessibility. Beyond the art exhibitions and the educational opportunities, BCA cosponsors several events in and around the community, such as the Architecture and Design film series, Sound Check with the Young Writers Project, and numerous collaborations with artists and arts organizations.

“BCA and our many community partners enable us to present an integrated series of art experiences for our ever-growing and diverse city that cements Burlington’s reputation as one of America’s most livable small cities for the arts,” Doreen says. It’s true—whether you’re just passing by the Center on Church Street or exploring a class or workshop in the education studios on Pine Street, you get a sense of the tenacious creativity and energized spirit that Doreen and the BCA team continue to bring to Church Street and beyond. For more information about BCA and the summer programs, visit


Burlington City Arts

135 Church Street

Burlington, VT

(802) 865-7166