Church Studios Fire: Reconstruction Update

Left: Church Studios exterior (2014); Right: interior after the fire (2016)

Left: Church Studios exterior (2014); Right: interior after the fire (2016)

Two months ago, an accidental fire significantly damaged the Church Studios building and derailed the practices of the 12 artists whose studios were located inside. We reached out for help, and the VSC community responded with a tremendous outpouring of generosity and love.

In total, the VSC community contributed $17,961 dollars in donations to support the affected artists and begin the process of reconstructing Church. We also received several generous gifts of art supplies and materials that were distributed directly to those affected.

In the immediate aftermath of the fire, we were able to resituate the artists-in-residence whose studios were lost and supply them with the tools to keep their practices up and running, and we have been able to provide our displaced staff members with interim studio spaces in the time since. However, we have had to make the difficult choice to reduce the capacity of our residency for the next several months while we navigating the lengthy process of assessing the damage and returning Church to habitability.

We are so immensely grateful to all of our alumni, donors, and friends who pulled together to support us through this loss, and continue to feel so fortunate that no one was physically injured and that the building's structure is intact. Your gifts provided a necessary bridge of support for the community while the insurance process is underway to get the artists quickly back on their feet. A modest portion of these funds was also used to make a donation to the Johnson Fire Department on behalf of the entire VSC community. The Johnson FD is volunteer-run and relies on donations to support their training and equipment needs; their swiftness, professionalism, and dedication saved a landmark Vermont building from total destruction, and the care they took to preserve as many of the artworks, tools, and personal items as possible was both heroic and moving. Once the insurance process is complete, VSC will distribute the remaining Church fire donations between the artists affected and the building project itself.

There will be many challenges ahead, but generosity of the VSC community has provided us with the resources we needed to kickstart the process of restoration and recovery. Our hope is that Church Studios will be reopened by Spring 2017, but there are still many variables at play at this point. We will keep the community periodically informed as reconstruction proceeds.