The White River Valley Herald

Chandler Names Next Executive DirectorFree Access

Powell Brings Local Knowledge, Music and Nonprofit Experience

Chloe Powell of Barnard will be taking the reins at Chandler Center for the Arts this month. (Herald / Tim Calabro)

After a months-long search, board president Ramsey Papp, announced this week that Chandler Center for the Arts had found its next executive director not far from home. Chloe Powell, who has spent the past several years juggling work as an agent for musicians, as the music programming director at the nonprofit BarnArts, and booking music for the summer’s Feast & Field events, started work in Chandler’s top spot Wednesday.

Papp said the members of the Chandler board were excited to welcome Powell aboard.

“With her there’s more young energy coming to Chandler, and that’s what we need,” she said.

At 38, Powell is no stranger to Vermont nonprofits, but the Chandler job will be a step up both in terms of budget and personnel.

Coming into a job growing increasingly famous for churning through directors, Powell said she thinks her life has prepared her well to take on the challenge.

“I juggle,” she laughed. During her job interview, Powell said she was asked how she would prioritize the executive director’s more mundane tasks. “I have five jobs—I always have to prioritize something that I don’t want to do,” she joked.

But the fun parts of the job are also things Powell already knows she loves. She’s built skills with Feast & Field and BarnArts coordinating events and booking musical acts and her work as an agent, traveling each winter to a series of music conferences has built connections throughout the music industry.

Over the years, Powell said, she’s made a lot of “personal relationships, that I’m taking with me to a new position where I think I can be able to do bigger things.”

She said she hopes, in her new role with Chandler, she’ll be able to collaborate with Feast & Field and BarnArts, among others, in luring great acts to the White River Valley. Having more than one performance destination in a small market is attractive to performers, Powell explained, and it benefits each venue to not have to shoulder the burden of flights and accommodations on its own.

Powell’s own tastes in music lean toward folk—she plays fiddle and cello in the band Trifolium with Andy Mueller and Justin Park— but she’s also an appreciator of music from all over the world.

Continuing Chandler’s classical programming, she said would be a priority, but she added she’d be interested in “expanding the definitions” both of classical and folk music to include non-western styles. From booking artists from around the world to come to Feast & Field—including the popular Garifuna Collective, who she worked to bring to the Chandler stage during the band’s Vermont tour in November—Powell said she sees an audience hungry for more global perspectives and stories.

Herald readers outside of Powell’s hometown of Barnard may find her name familiar, too.

One more gig she’s been juggling is that of correspondent for The Herald since 2012, when she took over the Barnard column from her friend and former co-owner of the Barnard General Store, Kim Furlong.

The Barnard General Store has been a touchstone for many over the years and, Powell said during an interview there Tuesday, “This was my first place of employment,” recounting her adventures baking cookies behind the lunch counter during high school.

Homegrown History

Powell grew up in Barnard and has held a passion for music for most of her life.

She started playing violin and cello in first or second grade, a practice she returned to after coming home from college.

Powell’s parents founded Porcupine Graphix, a screen printing business on Route 12, but sold it off when Powell was in eighth grade. After the sale, she and her mother moved to Rome for a year and Powell attended an American international school there for her freshman year.

When she returned to high school in Woodstock, Powell said she was disappointed, having fallen in love with Italy, but she found a home in the school’s theater. Eventually, she managed a return trip, spending her senior year back in Italy at St. Steven’s School, where she graduated in 2003.

From there, Powell went to Tufts University, studying child development and Italian. After college she found a job teaching pre-school in Burlington.

After a couple years, in 2007, Powell was drawn back to Barnard in the summers to co-found an eight-week children’s camp, called Camp Red Clover, with her friend Chelsea Furlong. For a couple years, Powell continued teaching, but soon she decided to return to her home town.

She found a job with Upper

Valley Farm to School where she worked with local elementary schools. In the summers, Camp Red Clover lived on.

In 2008 Fable Farm sprouted up in Barnard. Powell started hanging out at the weekly CSA pickups, she started playing fiddle again, and soon that association ushered her into the most recent chapter of her professional life.

As the Fable Farm festivities grew into Feast & Field, Powell became the market manager and soon took on the task of organizing musical performers for each Thursday-evening show. That responsibility continued to grow into a half-time job with BarnArts, the town’s arts organization, as music programming director. That’s how Powell met Alison Loerke, the owner of her own musical booking and management agency.

Powell began working with Loerke around 2017, becoming an agent in her own right.

Juggling so many responsibilities, Powell has loose ends to tie up.

She started work at Chandler yesterday, Feb. 1 on a half-time basis, easing into the role with help from interim director Steve Augustus and development director Karen Dillon. That schedule, Powell said, will also allow her to wrap up her work with BarnArts and Feast & Field.

She plans to be full-time around March and Augustus will return to his seat on the Chandler board.

“I feel like this is kind of my dream job. I’ve been wearing so many hats for so long that have kind of led in this direction,” Powell said of taking over Chandler.