Chandler YesterdaY
standing on their shoulders                                                      Plays, concerts, lectures, silent
Legend has it that the idea of                                                   films, operas, political meetings,
a music hall and a library for                                                   and school events made it a real
Randolph originated around 1900,                                                 treasure for the Town. But the
in a conversation between Albert B.                                              cumulative impact of the 1927
Chandler and R. J. Kimball, long-                                                flood, the stock market crash and
time friends and summer residents                                                Great Depression, World War II,
of Randolph. “You build a library,                                               and the advent of home entertain-
Kimball, and I’ll build a music                                                  ment such as radio and television
hall.” Another party to this con-                                                combined over time to turn the hall
versation may have been their pas-                                               into an echo chamber of memories.
tor, the Rev. Fraser Metzger, who                                                     By the end of World War II
felt that the long-term health of                                                Bethany’s congregation realized
Randolph depended upon the cre-                                                  that only by converting the Music
ation of basic amenities and servic-                                             Hall to public ownership could its
es. This was a period of confidence                                              purpose as a community arts and
                                                  Albert B. Chandler
in the future and of optimism                                                    educational facility be continued.
about Randolph’s place in it, and the                                          Bethany therefore offered it to the
great works of a century ago are still being celebrated      Town, which hotly debated accepting it because this
via the centennials of Gifford Medical Center in 2003        “white elephant” might cause expense to taxpayers.
(originally called Randolph Sanatorium and cre-              By a narrow margin a motion to purchase the Music
ated by a third friend, Dr. John Gifford), of Kimball        Hall for the price of $1.00 was passed in April of
Library in 2003, and of Chandler Music Hall and              1947. However, for the following 20 years the Music
Gallery in 2007.                                             Hall continued to stand empty and began to deterio-
     In the Randolph of 1900 there existed two               rate.
Christian churches of similar theologies, on oppo-
site sides of Randolph’s Main Street, and the Rev.           randolph singers to the resCue
Metzger (who served both) strongly urged them to             Then came 1968 and, as part of a parent-teacher
combine. It was decided that Colonel Chandler would          association effort to raise money, Randolph Singers
build a music hall on the site of the east-side church       was organized. Its first production, The Pirates of
and deed it to the remaining church on the west              Penzance, was performed at Chandler Music Hall.
side, now Bethany United Church of Christ. On the            In the words of a producer, “it was a nightmare.”
same site the colonel also built a parish house, at the      Because Chandler needed so much electrical work
expense of Bethany, from which to carry out its mis-         and was in such poor condition, the next two Singers’
sion in the community. The beams and oak interiors           productions were held at Randolph Union High
from the demolished church were built into the par-          School. But at the urging of their new stage director,
ish house, now Chandler Gallery; the stained-glass           John Jackson, the Singers moved back to Chandler
windows and organ, into the structure of Bethany.            starting with their February, 1971 Brigadoon. Despite
The church bell still hangs unused in its belfry, at the     an antiquated heating system, a bad roof, and cracks
rear of the Gallery roof. Colonel Chandler donated           in the walls through which the snow blew (it had
the finished Music Hall to Bethany on his birthday,          to be swept from the stage!), what started out as an
August 20th, in 1907.                                        adventure and a big risk turned out to be hugely
randolph BuYs an elephant                                        This and other successful local musical produc-
For about 25 years afterwards Chandler Music Hall            tions recruited many new individuals to a Chandler
was a busy place, under the management of Bethany            restoration effort. The Town then delegated manage-
member and local arts promoter Edgar Salisbury.              ment of the building to a group of town-appointed
                    Chandler Center for the Arts I 71-73 Main Street, Randolph, Vermont 05060
                                     (802) 728-9878 I
trustees, active in the Randolph Singers, and entrust-       period, while the Chandler Foundation was respon-
ed them with the restoration of the hall. A new roof,        sible for the programming of events, the trustees
electrical work, painting, restoration of the original       continued to be in charge of the care and upkeep of
stenciling, and code and accessibility work were             the Music Hall and Gallery. But as both groups were
financed by federal and state pro-                                                working toward the same mission,
grams and by the ongoing efforts of                                               they merged on Valentine’s Day,
the Singers themselves.                                                           2002, with the consolidated organi-
                                                                                  zation named Chandler Center for
the ostlund era                                                                   the Arts. An operating Board of 13
In 1972 “The Friends of Chandler                                                  persons led by Janet Watton now
Music Hall” was formed as a fund-                                                 orchestrates the efforts of 200 or so
raising organization, but soon                                                    community volunteers.
recognized that to restore the                                                         In order to give official control
deteriorating facility it was neces-                                              of the facility to Chandler Center
sary to start with solid program-                                                 for the Arts, a long-term automat-
ming in order to build community                                                  ically-renewable lease between the
support and secure other funding                                                  Town and Chandler was approved
sources. Therefore in 1977, under                                                 by the Randolph Selectboard in
the leadership of Martha Ostlund,                                                 April, 2002. In return for cover-
the Friends became the non-                                                       ing the heating and insurance for
profit Albert B. Chandler Cultural                                                the building, the Town retains
Foundation, with the double                                                       the right to hold Town gatherings
mission of once again bringing                       Martha Ostlund               therein, while all the responsibil-
cultural events and arts to the                                                 ity for what happens in the facility,
community and raising funds for the building’s care.         including regular maintenance, belongs to Chandler.
    When the Music Hall was                                  Responsibility for meeting special, large-dollar build-
transferred to the Town in 1947, the parish house            ing needs is shared between the Town and Chandler.
built by Colonel Chandler had been retained by
Bethany Church for youth programs. But when a                Changes in phYsiCal FaCilities
building more conveniently located on the west side          In mid-2003, to ensure access to the rear of the
of Main Street just next door to the church became           Music Hall, the Chandler Board used a bequest from
available in the mid-1970s, a property exchange was          long-time supporter Ann Barrette to purchase the
proposed. The Lamson-Howell Foundation and                   Randolph Village Laundromat located immediately to
Chandler’s volunteers raised the money to purchase           the north of Chandler. The property’s utility became
the west-side property for the Town, and in late 1979        apparent immediately: a New World Festival tent was
Bethany swapped the parish house to Randolph in              set up there for the September, 2003 celebration.
return. A sign reading “Cultural Center” was then                 July 4th youth musicals always seemed to occur
placed above the door of the building now known as           on the hottest days of the year, but the sizzling July
the Chandler Gallery.                                        of 2003 was the last straw. The Keep Chandler Cool
                                                             campaign, August, 2003-July, 2004, raised $100,000
growth into Current struCture                                from more than 250 area businesses and individu-
During the course of the 1980s, running the Music            als. To great fanfare, the new air-conditioning was
Hall and Gallery became a major job. In 1991,                installed for the 2004 youth musical, Grease.
through the generous support of local benefactor Bill
Markle, the part-time paid position of Director of                                     * * *
Program & Fund Development was created and filled            By 2007, Chandler had become widely recognized as
by Laura Morris. With the addition of hourly box             a cultural and educational focus for Central Vermont.
office and custodial staff over the years, this role grad- How surprised and pleased Colonel Chandler would
ually grew into a full-time executive directorship now       be to see how much has been accomplished in a cen-
ably carried out by Becky McMeekin. During this              tury, standing on his shoulders.

                     Chandler Center for the Arts I 71-73 Main Street, Randolph, Vermont 05060
                                      (802) 728-9878 I
             Chandler todaY
An Interview with Becky McMeekin by Tony Keller

As Chandler’s executive director for eight years, Becky
McMeekin has overseen performances by over 150
visiting artists, 50 gallery shows, 20 major festivals
and numerous educational programs. A resident of
Randolph for 28 years, Becky sings with Sounding
Joy, plays cello, and loves to ski and hike. She is the
mother of Hannah, David, and Jesse. Husband Charlie,
a humanities teacher and drama coach at The Sharon
Academy, serves part-time at Chandler for two weeks
every year as director of the annual July 4th youth musi-

Tony Keller is a retired arts administrator, a newcomer to Central Vermont, a member of the Chandler Board
of Directors, and chairman of the Chandler 2020 Planning Committee.
TK:    How would you describe the life of Chandler’s              time person. There’s Betsy Cantlin, our com-
       executive director?                                        munity outreach coordinator; Kathy Corrao,
BM:    Calm and uneventful.                                       our box office and rentals manager; and our
                                                                  custodial team, Gene and Helene Woodward.
TK:    You’re kidding.
                                                                  But without the volunteers, there would be no
BM:    Sure am! This place is humming around the                  Chandler. A few volunteers from Randolph
       clock.                                                     and nearby towns cover as many as ten dif-
TK:    What makes it hum?                                         ferent jobs which in a larger cultural center
BM:    The season itself of course: lots of perfor-               would be paid staff positions. The public is
       mance booking and contracting, advertising,                definitely getting its money’s worth when it
       marketing and ticket-selling, hosting of solo-             supports Chandler.
       ists and ensembles, exhibition planning and          TK:   And what’s the impact of all that energy?
       installing, maintaining an historic building,        BM:   Well, from my perspective, the most impor-
       grant proposal writing, outreach to schools                tant impact is that the wide range of cultural
       in Central Vermont, and meetings, meetings,                experiences we offer seems to be important
       meetings.                                                  in the lives of a surprisingly large number of
TK:    Why so many meetings?                                      people in a region with a small population
BM:    Because Chandler is really run by volunteers:              base. Over 15,000 patron visits are made to
       around 200 of them. We have a working                      Chandler every year. That’s a pretty strong
       board — a hard-working board — which                       statistic. I also measure success by the fact
       meets a lot. And there are committees:                     that we have more than 400 contributors and
       Building, Fundraising, Planning, Production,               donors among individuals, couples, and fami-
       Gallery, and New World Festival. They’re                   lies, and also area businesses.
       really amazing. I don’t know how they fit their      TK:   And where do those donations go?
       day jobs into their Chandler schedule! In one        BM:   To keeping ticket prices as low as possible,
       recent month, just for example, they donated               especially for youth. Complimentary tickets
       about 600 hours. It’s humbling to have the                 are also made available to low-income families
       support of so many dedicated volunteers.                   through the Central Vermont Community
TK:    You do have a staff.                                       Action Council, and a generous donor sup-
BM:    They’re great, but part-time. I’m the only full-           ports subsidized tickets.

                    Chandler Center for the Arts I 71-73 Main Street, Randolph, Vermont 05060
                                     (802) 728-9878 I
                                                                    in the building.
       where Chandler’s MoneY CoMes FroM                    TK:     Speaking of money, what’s Chandler’s annual
                                                                    operating budget?
                                                            BM:     About $400,000.
                10%                                         TK:     Are you in the black?
 15%                                           75%
                                                            BM:     Yes. We don’t spend what we don’t have. I
                                                                    can sleep nights — usually!
                                                            TK:     I thought you spent most of your nights here.
                                                            BM:     Well, that’s true!
                                                            TK:     Chandler’s developed a reputation around
                                                                    Vermont for some ambitious festivals. You
                                                                    must spend some of those late nights putting
        Earned income from programs and rentals                     them together.
                                                            BM:     Yes, and it’s worth it, especially the New
        Contributions from businesses and individuals
                                                                    World Festival every Labor Day Sunday. It
        Grants and program underwriting                             draws 2,000 visitors and 25 ensembles from
                                                                    New England and southern Canada here to
                                                                    celebrate northern New England’s Celtic and
                                                                    French heritage. It’s a huge volunteer effort
TK:    In addition to being a regional cultural
                                                                    led by Kevin Dunwoody and a dedicated
       resource, Chandler serves as a kind of civic
                                                                    committee. There’s also the Central Vermont
       center in Randolph.
                                                                    Chamber Music Festival in August, a real
BM:    Right. Town Meeting is here. People come
       here to vote in local and national elections.
       There are many public events as well as
       private rentals: weddings, Gifford Medical
       Center’s annual meetings, local dance recitals,                  where Chandler’s MoneY goes
       Randolph Singers’ concerts, yoga classes and
TK:    How would you describe Chandler’s relation-                     7%       3%                       83%
       ship to the Town of Randolph?                          7%

BM:    It’s a working partnership. The Town owns
       the building and the Chandler organization
       has a long-term lease as its permanent opera-
       tor. In exchange for our public services — our
       role as a civic center — the Town provides
       heat to the building, insures the building
       through low-cost municipal coverage, and
       shares responsibility for major repairs. Both
                                                                     Program-related expenses
       financially, and in terms of good will on both
       sides of the street, it’s a happy arrangement.                Building-related expenses
       Just recently Randolph voters expressed their
       strong endorsement of the relationship. At the                Fundraising and administrative expenses
       March, 2007 Town Meeting they approved,
                                                                     Interest payments
       by a two-to-one margin, a $750,000 bond to
       help address the safety and accessibility issues

                      Chandler Center for the Arts I 71-73 Main Street, Randolph, Vermont 05060
                                       (802) 728-9878 I
      jewel, now coming into its 15th year. And our                  Sometimes it’s the magic of great per-
      July 4th weekend is a kind of festival too: more           formers like Midori, Arlo Guthrie, Johnny
      than 100 elementary and secondary school                   Cunningham, and the Chiara Quartet, who
      kids from every community in the region put                deepen our aesthetic vocabulary, raise our
      on full-scale Broadway musicals. That, too,                standards and make us feel awed.
      draws around 2,000 people.                                     Sometimes it’s being introduced to the
TK:   What’s the economic impact of these pro-                   arts when Chandler artists come to the
      grams on the area?                                         schools.
BM:   It’s major! When Chandler hosts an event,                      Sometimes it’s discovering that our own
      whether it’s a festival or a concert or a gal-             neighbors are outstanding professional artists
      lery opening, the local merchants — restau-                with national reputations: writers, painters,
      rants, service stations, stores — benefit. And             photographers, composers, singers.
      Chandler is a sponsor and enthusiastic player                  Sometimes it’s direct participation. For
      in Randolph’s Creative Community Program                   one example, the annual Mud Season Variety
      being facilitated by the Vermont Council on                Show in April when old-timers and young
      Rural Development. Sixty people have shown                 people from the surrounding communities
      up at each of the meetings and have picked                 get to share their talent with full houses. For
      three key creative economy initiatives to                  another, the many community-based shows,
      work on.                                                   demonstrations, classes and workshops in the
TK:   A powerful partnership, for sure. What do                  Gallery. And let’s not forget our Student Tech
      you see as Chandler’s recent success stories?              Program, which teaches high school kids how
BM:   Glad you asked. There are two which I think                to design and run lighting and sound, and
      are worth highlighting. First, it was Chandler’s           manage the stage.
      growing donor base which made it possible                      It all adds up to a subtle but continuing
      for us to hire Betsy Cantlin, who’d been a                 presence in Central Vermont, a reminder that
      volunteer here forever, to take charge of our              a society is at its best when people explore,
      community outreach: expanding programs                     respect, and use their senses.
      for area youth at Chandler and in schools,
      growing Chandler’s relationships with local
      businesses, and building synergy with other
      non-profit organizations. Second, not only
      Randolph voters supported Chandler on
      Town Meeting Day, 2007: Braintree and
      Brookfield voters took the uncommon
      action of allocating funds from their bud-
      gets to support the safety and accessibility
      work at Chandler, even though another town
      (Randolph) owns the building. That was a real
      “Wow!” for me.
TK:   What gives you the most satisfaction as execu-
      tive director, Becky?
BM:   I know from my own life how rich a bless-
      ing the arts are. My greatest satisfaction at
      Chandler is watching people grow and change
      from their exposure to music, dance, theatre,
      literature, and the visual arts. It happens in so
      many ways here.

                   Chandler Center for the Arts I 71-73 Main Street, Randolph, Vermont 05060
                                    (802) 728-9878 I
                                    Chandler toMorrow
In the spring of 2006, after an intensive year and a half of planning — research, public discourse, committee
meetings, and written reports — Chandler’s Board of Directors adopted a plan for the organization through the
year 2020, based on the following vision.

           Chandler will be recognized throughout Vermont and New England as a cultural center of
           the highest quality. It will be known for excellence in the presentation and interpretation of
           the performing, visual, and literary arts; for its strong commitment to its community roots;
           and for its impact on the education of youth and adults. Diversity of audiences and program-
           ming; support from a wide range of loyal donors, businesses, foundations, and government
           agencies; and a major role in Central Vermont’s creative economy will be key to its success.

Five goals are the means of achieving this vision.         goal 2: engage Central VerMont
                                                           Youth in a wide arraY oF CreatiVe and
                                                           Cultural eXperienCes.
goal 1: Continue to diVersiFY
Chandler’s prograM oFFerings to                            Today’s youth are the civic and cultural leaders of
  Central VerMont.                                         tomorrow. In the next decade Chandler programs
                                                           will help enable young people to discover expressive
Chandler Center for the Arts’ presenting traditions        dimensions within themselves and explore creative
have made Chandler known far and wide. In the years        connections with each other. Our newly-hired com-
to come, it will expand its current annual season of       munity outreach coordinator is already involving area
about 20 performances and 9 exhibits in addition to        youth in designing Chandler’s future directions for
special events such as the New World Festival, July        younger populations throughout the region. We are
4th Youth Musical, Local Artist Gallery Show, and          also adding youth representatives to Chandler’s Board
Central Vermont Chamber Music Festival. Audiences          and working committees, and will be giving over the
will have the chance to experience multi-cultural and      main stage and other facilities to youth-run projects
cutting-edge offerings. The Gallery and other smaller      such as open mike nights, gallery exhibitions, poetry
spaces will be used for intimate, small-audience           slams, and issue-focused events. One highlight is
events and a variety of instructional programs for         National Public Radio’s “From the Top” September,
youth and seniors. More summer programming will            2007 nationwide broadcast, with host Christopher
take place in the newly air-conditioned Music Hall.        O’Riley, from the Music Hall stage. Additionally,
Chandler’s technical assistance for important local        March, 2007 saw our first Mini-Mud Talent Show
cultural activities, such as the Fiddlehead Festival       and we are planning additional programs for local
celebrating agriculture in Central Vermont, will           children and youth and “new generation” performing
be strengthened.                                           and visual arts competitions for outstanding young

                    Chandler Center for the Arts I 71-73 Main Street, Randolph, Vermont 05060
                                     (802) 728-9878 I
goal 3: proMote the proFessional
and CreatiVe deVelopMent oF Central
VerMont artists.

Central Vermont is a location of choice for artists of
all kinds who are drawn here by the region’s hospi-
table setting and supportive lifestyle. In the coming
decade, Chandler will provide visual artists, musi-
cians, dancers, writers, choreographers, film-makers,
and composers with more opportunities to con-
nect with each other and with the public. Some of
Chandler’s plans for the future are: providing more
showcases for artists’ work; establishing artist-run
businesses as a priority of creative economy planning
in Central Vermont; developing more programming
that increases public understanding and appreciation      goal 5: strengthen Central VerMont’s
of artists’ work and the nature of the creative pro-      CreatiVe eConoMY.
cess; encouraging instructional and mentoring jobs
for artists; and supporting the growth and develop-       The Vermont Council on Rural Development’s
ment of promising young artists throughout Central        research shows that cultural heritage and the arts are
Vermont.                                                  a significant economic engine in rural economies.
                                                          In 2007 Randolph became the tenth Vermont town
                                                          to be designated as a “Creative Community.” These
goal 4: inCrease the nuMBer and                           towns are establishing new opportunities for them-
VarietY oF Central VerMont residents                      selves through imaginative collaborations among
and                                                       their cultural, commercial, and community resources.
Visitors who use Chandler as a                            For Chandler, the Creative Communities process
CoMMunitY resourCe.                                       will bolster our efforts to accomplish the four goals
                                                          described above. We expect that during the next few
One of Chandler’s greatest challenges for the next        years new creative partnerships within the Randolph
decade is making its programs and facilities accessible   area will enable products of regional artists to enrich
for broader public use and enjoyment. Our constitu-       the local population, while providing visitors with a
ency-building plan calls for: improving our market-       chance to experience Vermont’s historic and contem-
ing and advertising; developing programming that          porary artistic genius.
has broader appeal to targeted groups (e.g., seniors,
youth, the agricultural community); establishing a
regional ticket-underwriting fund for those who find
the cost of admission to Chandler events too high;
instituting a Chandler regional advisory network;
collaborating more extensively with other organiza-
tions; and increasing the active participation of the
general public in Chandler activities. We intend to
accomplish this while preserving and emphasizing
Chandler’s warm and informal environment, which
our performers and exhibitors cite in speaking of
Chandler as a special place.

                    Chandler Center for the Arts I 71-73 Main Street, Randolph, Vermont 05060
                                     (802) 728-9878 I
                                          artists’ Quotes

“It’s great that Randolph is the geographical center       “What a wonderful embracing space! Randolph is
of Vermont, because Chandler, with its wonderful           worth coming back to see fully. Thanks.”
Gallery and magnificent Music Hall, is the ‘heart of             — Charles Turner, with the Weston Playhouse
the arts’ in Vermont.”                                                 production of Fences, November 2, 2003
                — Jim Sardonis, sculptor, March, 2007
                                                           “Thanks for having us! It’s a dream stage!”
“Thank you again for giving Michael and me the                        — Rebecca Fischer of the Chiara Quartet,
opportunity to play at Chandler. I truly think it has                                         November 23, 2003
forever changed my concept of what great sound is. It
was a wonderful opportunity for us and I really hope       “What a wonderful evening! Chandler is the best
we can do something again.”                                place to play!”
           — David Tamulevich of Mustard’s Retreat,                        — Sean Harkness, February 7, 2004
                                    November 9, 2002
                                                           “Just a quick note to thank you for having us to per-
“Chandler Gallery is an important facet in Randolph’s      form at Chandler Music Hall. It was a real pleasure
cultural crown jewel known as Chandler Center for          — amazing venue, terrific staff, friendly folks.”
the Arts. The gallery plays an important and vital role                             — April Verch, April 3, 2004
in our community, by providing a venue for the exhi-
bition of 2-D and 3-D artwork by artists of all kinds:     “It is a great pleasure to find such a beautiful per-
kids, students, aspiring amateurs and established pro-     forming space, so well restored…The acoustics are
fessionals. At Chandler Gallery exhibits,                  excellent, and the sound is uniform all over the hall. I
it’s always great to see the vast array of art and craft   love little halls like this.”
being made right here in Randolph and the                      — Larry O’Brien, director, Glenn Miller Orchestra,
surrounding towns.”                                                                                October 13, 2002
                       — David Hurwitz, woodworker,
                                             March, 2007   “This is a nice room…a REALLY nice room.”
                                                                         — Richard Shindell, November 11, 2006
“Thank you, Chandler. This place is highly excellent.”
— John Gorka, March 2, 2002                                “…Humans are storytellers and the stage is our
                                                           home. To have such a magnificent home in which
“What a thrill! For us to play in this wonderful           to learn to better tell our stories is a gift beyond
sounding hall — and the audience — so warm and             imagining.”
knowledgeable. We will always remember this night!”                   — Michael Livingston, head of The Sharon
              — Scott Ballantyne of the Leonore Trio,                                Academy, November 18, 2006
                                         April 13, 2002

“Thanks! You guys are awesome…great hall, great
people, beautiful sights…we couldn’t have asked
for more!”
              — Matt Bell of the Bonnie Rideout Trio,
                                    October 25, 2003

                    Chandler Center for the Arts I 71-73 Main Street, Randolph, Vermont 05060
                                     (802) 728-9878 I

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