40 Years and Counting

NEWSCATAMOUNTST. JOHNSBURY- Catamount Arts and Film is celebrating a big milestone this year.  It is their 40th year in operation its debut in 1975. 

 

 

The organization was founded by Jay Craven and Reg Ainsworth as a traveling film society in which they would rent a film and travel to different venues in hopes of bringing more independent films into the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. These events gained popularity, and the organization continued to grow.

Jerry Aldredge, the Artistic Director, talked to us about Catamount’s evolution, stating it “started out simple, but the need in our area for an arts outlet evolved from mostly films, to mostly concerts, until in 2008 when the current community arts center was opened.”

That building located on Eastern Avenue in St. Johnsbury where locals could come share and view art. “[Catamount] has become the voice of culture for the Northeast Kingdom,” Alderege said.

As the voice of culture for this area, Catamount  events like movies, concerts, and performances.  Some of these performances may only draw in 10 to 20 people, “but we don’t judge,” says Alderedge. “We provide a wide variety of cultural activities to present something for everyone.” Catamount also offers venues for other groups to utilize as their location is well-known.

Catamount brings in thousands of people every year, averaging around 28 thousand people annually.  Community member Jane Woodhouse remembers going to Catamount when it was in a different building, and seeing the films and performances there.

"I can remember seeing Harold and Maud there and the audience was standing and cheering as Harold and Maud outran the police.  Seeing a movie was always an event," Woodhouse said.

Woodhouse also helped Craven out in the early days.  "I used to help Jay with tickets long before the internet was around and that was quite the ordeal an hour before a performance."

Being in operation for 40 years is an achievement, and the Catamount employees are working on scheduling celebratory events throughout the year. They have hired the “father of digital art” Lawrence Gartel, who designed the set and artwork for this year’s Grammy Awards, to create 40 prints for Catamount to sell, commemorating their 40 years in business.

The support of the community has helped keep Catamount open and Aldredge says they hope to continue to give back. “We hope to have another 40 years of serving our community with our variety of cultural activities.”