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How is the BBC organized?


The BBC has a Board of Directors, an Executive Director, a part-time assistant to the Director, a part-time streetscape and maintenance employee, and an independently contracted bookkeeper. The BBC has volunteer docents who staff its Visitor Center to welcome and provide information to visitors to Bennington.


The BBC has four standing committees: Organization, Economic Vitality, Design, and Promotions.

Members of the Board of Directors are expected to serve on at least one of the standing committees. The Organization Committee is composed of the Board’s president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. Committee chairpersons are customarily members of the Board.


Bennington is one of 23 officially Designated Downtowns in Vermont. For more information about the program, go to:

https://accd.vermont.gov/community-development/designation-programs/downtowns


How is the BBC funded?


The organization is funded through an incremental town tax on Downtown Improvement District businesses, membership fees, sponsorships, grants, and donations.




What is the BBC’s relationship to the Town of Bennington?


The BBC has a strong relationship with the Town of Bennington but does not report organizationally to the Town. The incremental tax mentioned above is levied by the Town and paid to the BBC. The BBC provides its budget estimate and work plans to the Town each year. We provide the Town with our meeting minutes, Director’s Report, and our current financials on a monthly basis. If you are interested in more details, please watch the Selectboard Meeting on May 23.


Who are members of the BBC?


Key members of the BBC are the business owners and landlords within the Downtown District. The incremental tax covers their membership fee. Businesses and individuals not in the Downtown district are welcome to join, and many d


o so. The BBC has also recently offered an extended Downtown version of membership based on nearness to Downtown.


How does the BBC promote Downtown businesses?


The BBC uses its website, the BBC Facebook page, press releases, and news articles along with ribbon cuttings to welcome new businesses and support existing businesses. The BBC hosts events such as its annual Mayfest, Midnight Madness, Small Business Saturdays, Harvest Fest, its new Thursday Night Live summer series, and occasional additional events to support Downtown businesses by bringing people here.


What is the BBC’s relationship to other organizations?


The BBC collaborates actively with other not-for-profit organizations such as the Bennington Performing Arts Center, The Bennington Arts Council, the Bennington Museum, and the Vermont Arts Exchange. We have in common a vision of Bennington as a place to welcome people, their interests, their ideas, and their work.


Does the BBC set policies for downtown events?


The Town of Bennington sets those policies. The BBC helps in publicizing the policies as necessary.


What is the BBC’s role/relationship to Downtown parks in Bennington?


The BBC is responsible for the appearance and care of the Pocket Park on Main Street and responsible for maintaining only the calendar of events for The Thomson Family Stage in Merchants Park (also downtown).




What is the BBC’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion statement?

“The Better Bennington Corporation (BBC) is committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion and believes these fundamental principles inform and strengthen the BBC’s ability to respond to changing demographics and to the needs of all who live in, work in, and/or visit Downtown Bennington.”



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I had the honor of being on the panel for the supremely talented teenagers at MAU who spent several days auditioning for Mamma Mia! The drama club led by Lynn Songdahl Sweet will be presenting this ambitious production in a mere two months. With her team of co-director, Enrique Segura and choreographer, Kristi Segura, this is a challenge that will be met with what is already shaping up to be an incredible production.


What does this have to do with downtown Bennington? Everything.


These kids are our future. Some will go on to have careers in the arts. Some will go on to be lawyers, contractors, etc. Some will go on to be small business owners. Perhaps Trinity will take over Madisons and 421 or Cameron will take over The Village Chocolate Shop and join the Bennington Community Theater who have a home at Bennington Performing Arts Center (BPAC.) Either way, both left the auditions to head over to their jobs downtown and I got to greet them in person at their jobs.


What MAU offers these young thespians is a home away from home like every high school theatre department. These kids filled my heart with their hearts. They moved me to step away from using Facebook to promote downtown to write about them after the first day of rehearsals.


"Looking forward to day two of auditions for Mamma Mia! at MAU today. Wonderful talent but what impressed me the most was the support these kids show each other. From holding hands to cheering on their “competition.” Lynn Songdahl Sweet has created such a warm and loving environment for these young thespians. They are so lucky to have her! This is going to be tough to cast but I see that every one of them would be able to put aside their own disappointment to celebrate the ones who land the roles. As Kristi Segura said, the ensemble is the star. All are winners, not because of trying to be equitable in praise, but because the show will need every single one of them to succeed. And succeed it will. Honored to be a part of it."


We see sports celebrated in every issue of every newspaper so I am seizing this moment to celebrate the artists. The actors, musicians (this includes singers), and dancers of MAU deserve just as much attention and praise. They work hard at their craft and Mrs. Sweet is an incredible force for these kids. Her love and respect for them is palpable.


It was also a treat to see many of them perform this past weekend at the MAU Pops Concert. This town has some extremely talented kids! Next on the agenda is to get them out to perform at Mayfest this year. If you missed them at MAU, hopefully you will get to see them in Merchants Park on the Thomson Family Stage.


I spent my entire life running right back to the familiarity of the black box with lights, seats, a stage and the ghost light. Thank you to Lynn and her "kids" from letting me come into their home for a few days and reminding me that it's still my home too. I hope to remind them that Downtown is theirs.


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Things are bustling at the Better Bennington Corporation with our efforts to come back swinging post pandemic and changing of the guard. While our website is still a work in progress, it is up and running for the most part. Please take a look at the fresh new pages! www.betterbennington.com


We are very fortunate to have found a stunning designer in Ahmad Yassir. He did incredible work at a break-neck speed. He is also an absolute pleasure and the Banner is lucky to have him on board now. We would also not have been able to get it off the ground this quickly without Kaiya Kirk, the assistant to the director. She is a no-nonsense kind of woman and did a magnificent job updating the information on our downtown businesses to prepare them for uploading to the website.


We have resurrected the membership program and changed the structure up a bit. Those in the district who pay the assessed taxes are no longer required to pay membership fees to participate in all the benefits of membership. We are extending our focus out a bit further as our downtown should be inclusive of all the businesses within walking distance! They have been invited to become paid members and will receive all the same treatment and support from the BBC. Anyone else who is interested in becoming a member with benefits including voting for our officers is most welcome. Please check out our membership page and sign up. https://www.betterbennington.com/membership The membership meeting is slated for March or April.


We are already knee deep in the planning stages for Mayfest and the Free Summer Entertainment series at Merchant Park called Thursday Night Live. (We promise that the water will not be on during the entertainment!) In order to present this series, we are seeking grants and shamelessly asking for sponsorships. While the entertainment is free to the public, all participants are professionals and must be paid. Please go to our Donor/Sponsor page https://www.betterbennintgton.com/donors-sponsors if you are interested in contributing. You can also, of course, contact us directly. My email is director@betterbennington.com

We greatly appreciate all the well wishes and positive energy coming from around town. We are here to serve YOU and it is our pleasure to do so.


Finally, we wish a hearty congratulations to the Chamber for their lovely annual meeting. We are extremely proud at the representation of the BBC in many aspects of the evening. Board Member Nancy Koziol and Kaiya Kirk were fabulous in their wine tasting presentation. Committee members Sarah Krinsky and Brie Magnifico received the Young Professional of the year in a Business, Board Member Keith Carey took the Volunteer of the Year, and former Executive Director of the BBC, John Shannahan was rewarded with the Lifetime Achievement. All well-deserved!

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