Camera Fund

We’re quietly adding this page to the website as groundwork for a fundraising campaign that we hope to avoid. But we’re also making it public in case anyone stumbles across it and would like to pitch in.

So much of what Stage 33 Live has accomplished — and it’s been a lot — has been because you helped, and frankly it makes us uncomfortable to ask you yet again for even more. Last year (2019) we appealed to philanthropic foundations and it was a complete and total bust… but to be fair, our applications were juggling a bunch of small, interrelated projects instead of one big one and were consequently pretty unfocused. We’re trying again this year, better. Currently waiting to hear back. We’re nothing if not hopeless optimists.

Most of the usual philanthropic foundations have converted their grant programs to COVID-19 relief this year, which is good. Except because we’ve chosen to pay the performers rather than ourselves, we’re ineligible to even apply for pivot funds from all but one of the programs. The message being sent is that mission fulfillment is secondary to payroll fulfillment, even when the mission generates income for the artists served.

We did find four foundations with grants we were eligible to request. As grants go, they’re on the small side. It’s possible that between them we might make the whole goal, though not likely.

From the start, upgrading the cameras has been the final and most expensive phase of the initial buildout, and that’s where we are. Ahead of schedule!

(Grants update, October 2020: Support from the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation and The Claremont Savings Bank Foundation have brought us about three-quarters of the way to the first camera of a three-camera upgrade. We were aiming for four, but three is great.)

(Grants update #2, December 2020. The tally: Vermont-based arts foundations, zilch… other arts foundations, nada… COVID pivot funds, bupkis. Honestly, we were surprised to get totally skunked again this year by the main Vermont-based funders. Our proposals were solid and the mission well conveyed. Everything all seems to have gone to the usual big dogs. We’re willing to chalk it up to Covid — this time. But there’s also good news: Underwriting from The Island Corporation [of Bellows Falls], Covered Bridge Cookies [of Windsor], individual earmarked donations, and the pennies we’d saved up already bring us more than two-thirds of the way to three cameras!)

(General update, third in a series of updates, January 2021: Thanks largely once again to you, we’ve scraped enough together for two setups… on our way to the third! We were hoping to do four in the grant proposals, but three upholds a fine tradition for this sort of thing. No complaints whatsoever.)

(General update, third in a series of updates, January 2021: Thanks largely once again to you, we’ve scraped enough together for two setups… on our way to the third! We were hoping to do four in the grant proposals, but three upholds a fine tradition for this sort of thing. No complaints whatsoever.)

(General update, the fourth and likely final, late February 2021: An entry-level pro setup of three pocket cinecams with the most-needful accoutrements is now in hand except for a couple minor bits and bobs that we’re not stressed about yet. We’ll be able to produce broadcast-ready media when things get rolling again! They look more like 35mm still cameras with pancake lenses than movie cameras, but that’s fine by us. They’re perfect. Plus we managed to scrape it together without dipping into next year’s insurance payment. Having one more camera is a stretch goal, not only for a spare angle but more importantly as a direct and immediate replacement for left-right-or-center if it’s ever needed. Redundant mission-critical components is priceless, we’ve learned that a few times.)


Stage 33 Live is a 501(c)3 serving southeastern Vermont and southwestern New Hampshire as an economic arts driver since 2017. Primarily, two communities are served: Bellows Falls and the surrounding mid-Connecticut River Valley region, and emerging creatives in music and spoken word arts from the area. The main service to both is promoting discovery by wider audiences.

Stage 33 Live organizes, promotes, hosts, and documents low-cost and by-donation listening events showcasing local and regional emerging performers and presenters of original material that entertain, educate, and inspire an underserved, low-income population; boost creatives from within the community; contribute to overall community pride; and bring outside dollars into the local economy. There is no other formalized program like Stage 33 Live in the southern Vermont and New Hampshire borderlands.

Upgrading to broadcast-quality cinecameras and a professional editing workstation to produce evergreen, ready-to-air programming from Stage 33 Live’s documentation of the listening events for regional radio and television, including public broadcasting networks, is the final planned phase of the initial multi-year development plan. This will be the biggest step forward in mission fulfillment, exponentially expanding the breadth and effect of the service by signal-boosting the creatives far beyond their normal reach, with the byproduct of raising the reputation and visibility of the mid-Connecticut River Valley communities. Performance clip views in excess of 14,000 online provides a compelling proof of concept.

It will also be a significant move toward institutional sustainability. Well produced and widely disseminated media will be attractive as an underwriting vehicle for businesses and institutions. This will help address Stage 33 Live’s costs, infuse payroll dollars into the local economy, and establish guarantees for the performers and presenters.

Vermont PBS and VPR have broadcast footprints covering most of the state, as well as adjacent parts of New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and southern Quebec including Montreal. NHPBS and NHPR similarly cover nearly all of New Hampshire and extend into neighboring states and Canada. Independent TV and radio — public access, community, and locally-owned — will also be welcome to syndicate, as well as outlets in other New England states and beyond.

Most broadcasters require a full season’s production in advance, especially in the case of new programs. A computer workstation optimized for medium-length video production will reduce production time and accommodate the much-bigger cinecam files.

Consumer camcorders are presently being used to document, including off-brand “children’s” videocams that are sub-par for even standard-definition web product, and don’t approach the minimum quality or technical requirements for broadcast. (While the existing lower-visual-quality material wouldn’t meet standards to comprise full-length episodes, it could be used in “from the vault” segments.)

Stage 33 Live’s strikingly small “actual dollars” budget belies what’s been accomplished through aggressive thrift, creative re-purposing, hardscrabble ingenuity, and unflagging work, which is both a source of pride and frustration. Meeting contemporary broadcast specifications requires a high minimum threshold of specialized technology, and cutting any corners would be ill-advised.

Cash donations were being set aside for camera improvements, but with performances paused and donations along with them, the goal is increasingly distant. Institutions and foundations are being queried in this fundraising effort; public campaigns will be pursued for matching or shortfall. Stage 33 Live’s program revenue to date has been entirely disbursed to the performers and presenters.

Stage 33 Live is located in Bellows Falls, Vermont, which has poverty in excess of 25% (LMI was 61.21% per HUD based on ACS data 2006-2010, second only to Barre by less than one-half of one percent among Vermont’s Designated Downtowns); a low education rate; and no institutions of higher learning. Stage 33 Live’s listening events and documentation entertain, educate, and inspire; boost performance creatives from within the community; and bolster pride of place. Community members have supported the initiative with financial and physical donations, expertise, time and muscle, and participation.

Half or more of all arts and music venues nationally are projected to close permanently as the pandemic lingers. The rate is as high as 90% for small independents. This is a terrible blow for the performers and audiences they serve, and the local economies they help support.


Share this page:

Run and done by volunteers, stem to stern.
Donations are what keep this thing going.
We squeeze every penny,
and we'd be so happy to squeeze yours.
Or drop off cash / checks at any event.
You can surface-mail checks to:
Stage 33 Live (admin)
8-A Atkinson St
Bellows Falls VT 05101

Donated equipment or services are welcome!
Tax deductible to the fullest extent.
Stage 33 Live LTD is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, EIN 82-2349941.

Stage 33 Live
voice/text (802) 289-0148
We don't have actual staff to answer.

33 Bridge Street
Bellows Falls VT

8A Atkinson St
Bellows Falls VT 05101