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April 22, 2011

Vermonter Named to Kennedy Center Board

StetsonCloseBill Stetson, a Vermont filmmaker, has been named by Pres. Barack Obama to a key committee that advises the prestigious John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Steton's official title is Member, Advisory Committee on the Arts for the Kennedy Center. As part of his role, however, he will serve as the key liaison between regional artists and performing art centers and the Kennedy Center.

In short, Stetson hopes to bring a little of Vermont to the progamming of the Kennedy Center and a little bit of the Kennedy Center programming to Vermont.

Stetson is a longtime political friend of the president who helped raise millions for Obama in the 2008 election, including hosting a 2007 primary fundraiser at his and his wife's Norwich home that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. His wife, Jane Stetson, is currently the finance director for the Democratic National Committee. The couple, who have a home in Norwich, also own one in Washington, D.C.

"I plan to use my friendship with the president to really pitch to him the creative economy in Vermont, and put our state and its artists and creators on the national stage," Stetson told Seven Days. As well, Stetson will be able to help bring Kennedy Center programs to cultural centers in Vermont and New England.

"I would love to have a series of open meetings on what the arts are exactly, and how the full range of Vermont artists make a go of it -- all aspects of film and screen, fine and conceptual arts, performance, literature and more," said Stetson. "It's really quite exciting. This could be a great and interesting undertaking -- really highlighting and helping Vermont's creative economy. There is a lot of attention being paid to Vermont right now, thanks in part to our congressional delegation, and I hope to use that attention to help our economy."

In turn, Stetson hopes attention to the creative economy can dovetail with Gov. Peter Shumlin's goals of trying to create more jobs for Vermonters.

In his role as chairman of the Vermont Film Commission, Stetson has been trying to pitch the idea of the creative economy to in-state artists, particularly filmmakers who feel the commission and its current director have been ineffective.

Given Stetson's background in environmental filmmaking, he said, he wants to integrate environmental themes into his efforts. Stetson served as an adviser to the HBO movie Earth and the American Dream and has produced both narrative feature films and documentaries, including the 2002 documentary A Closer Walk, which aired on PBS.

Stetson advised former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean on media and environmental issues, established the Vermont Film Commission and served as its founding president. He currently serves on the board of Vermont Public Radio and the founding board of the Center for the Environment at Harvard University, where he received a bachelor's degree and subsequently studied at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

The power elite lives on, even in the era of "change." Surprise, surprise. Come on, Shay, wouldn't it be better to include the real bios of the Stetsons when reporting on their political activities. You could even just use Wiki, which reports this about the Stetsons:

"Stetson is the grandson of Eugene W. Stetson, a corporate pioneer[1] who was involved in early ownership of Coca-Cola and expansions of the Illinois Central Railroad and J.P. Morgan & Co., and the great grandson Lunsford Richardson, a U.S. pharmacist and entrepreneur who founded the Vicks Chemical Company (which became Richardson Vicks Inc.), which owned companies such as Vidal Sassoon and Pantene and created a number of well known products, including Vicks VapoRub, Clearasil, Nyquil, and Oil of Olay cream.[2] Stetson is married to Jane Watson Stetson, National Finance Chair for the Democratic National Committee in the United States and granddaughter of Thomas J. Watson, the founder of IBM."

Yeah sure, he got this gig because he's a "Vermont filmmaker."

Spare change for the rest of us....and it won't be enough to get us into Stetson's "cultural programs."

Wow. I am absolutely no friend of the wealthy "politically correct" elite, but, geez, it sounds like someone (howzabouttruth) won't be happy until the inter-generational successful in the U.S. just give all their money to the poor, don sackcloth and ashes, and move into a cave somewhere.

So, howzabouttruth, the Stetson family aside, let's assume a hypothetical person who starts out with nothing and achieves enormous financial success. Are they required by your personal sense of morality to give up what they've made? And when, exactly, must they do this? Is it at the first million? At the second million? Third, fourth, . . . twentieth? Exactly at what point does the decent, productive citizen become a pig? At what point are they required to divest themselves of their wealth and enter a monastery? Is it an age cut-off, like, say, age 50? Or is it a dollar-amount cutoff? And who decides exactly when success becomes immorality? You? And what's the point of building something, like a pharaceutical company or a soda company, if you can't keep and maintain it and pass it on to your kids? If someone makes billions in their lifetime, but doesn't leave anything to their kids, would that make you happy?

Are you pissed that the great grandson of the founder of Vick's Pharmaceuticals is also the grandson of someone involved in the founding of Coca-Cola? Why? What's it to you? And you seem to be suggesting that this scion is guilty because he married Jane Watson, the granddaughter of the founder of IBM. Get a clue, howzabouttruth -- was he supposed to go to the Old North End of Burlington and randomly seek out some welfare recipient to marry instead? WTF?

I didn't inherit any money either.

Howabout instead of being bitter at Mr. Stetson's situation, you go out and be successful yourself? Believe me, I'll be rooting for you. And then, when you've made a few million $$, let's see if you don't want to give your children and their children the best opportunities in life, like a good college education, and pass along what you've built to your children and grandchildren. It's human nature to do that, howzabouttruth.

Just another example of how democracy in the US has degenerated into a plutocracy (rule by the rich for the rich).

@ JV:

How is Stetson a "ruler"?

He's a filmmaker who was named to an arts board, for god's sake.

Paranoid, much? You must be a Prog.

To paraphrase Ann Richards: The Stetsons were born on third base and they think they hit a triple.

Face it, this is all about privilege, not merit.

@ howzabouttruth:

So, I guess it's just not even possible that someone born into privilege could actually have merit?

What about all the good and important artists, musicians, engineers, scientists, doctors, authors, and philanthropists throughout the course of human history who were born into privilege.

Not to mention actual rulers who obviously inherited their positions but who turned out to do great things.

Give your jealousy a rest.

This gratuitous slamming galls me. To know Bill and Jane Stetson is to know that their lives are all about giving back... the very best of noblesse oblige. They put their money where their mouths are... and beyond bucks, they work in the trenches. I've sat with them at phone banks, worked all day at polls, heard them give presentations to help fundraisers... They are indefatigable and Vermont is a better place thanks to them. Perhaps the nattering nabobs of negativity should try a little giving back themselves... that is beyond posting on a blog.

Talk about some great quotes..."nattering, nabobs of negativity." Wasn't that the catchy phrase used by Spiro Agnew to attack those he considered to be dim witted opposition. So, Howzaboutit...have you ever met Bill Stetson? Do you really know anything about him? At least we know his real name, what's yours?

Jeepers, I almost forgot to ask, what do you have to do to join the NNN?

And your Ann Richards quote...Whoa! At least Bill Stetson is in the game, what position do you play?

Let me leave you with a quote, which you will dislike, because it was written by someone who also had a privileged upbringing (frankly, I'm all for choosing one's parents better).

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

Written by Teddy Roosevelt, Our 26th President

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