Burlington City Arts

Herb Lockwood Prize

The Herb Lockwood Prize was created to reward the pinnacle of arts leadership in the state of Vermont. The Prize recognizes artists who produce significant work in the areas of visual arts, music, writing, drama, dance, film, and fine woodworking―while also having a beneficent influence on the Vermont community. An anonymous committee selects one recipient each year―there is no application process. Herb Lockwood was an inspirational figure in the Burlington arts and music scene in the 1980's. Learn more:


How does someone become the matriarch of an art form for an entire state? This is the question raised by this year’s winner of the Herb Lockwood Prize.

The answer begins in the 1980s, in an upstairs studio on Main Street in Burlington. Dancers of all ages and abilities came there to learn movement. Their teacher treated dance as a means of conveying what it is to be human, a way for an individual dancer to express emotions that anyone can recognize and feel.

She soon became known for incredible focus. For having eyes that light up at a good idea. For being raw and direct, and for having a great belly laugh. She also developed two traits that are essential for success in dance: First, determination. This show will come together. The performance will come off. And second, savvy. Uniquely among Vermont dance producers, she pays her dancers for rehearsal time. She is repaid, of course, in devotion.

This combination of attributes soon outgrew Main Street, to become Cradle to Grave Arts. Piece by piece, that company expanded notions about where dance can be performed. How about a bus depot? Or an abandoned building? How about a show that is 54 hours long?

The Mill Project considered the lives of textile workers in Vermont’s past. The Rose Street Bakery Project was a ten-hour performance in an abandoned building. The Waterfront Project involved a performance on the first Sunday of the month all year, and in all weather. The next year brought Spirit of Place, a two-person dance performed in silence, and the Hay Project, down at Shelburne Farms. Next, the Five Sisters area of Burlington became the stage for the Neighborhood Project. People were, quite literally, dancing in the streets.

Time after time she found new places to perform, and new ways to introduce people to this art form. The role of dancers, by expressing history and culture and emotion, was being enlarged.

She produced a show in Burlington’s Bus Barn, where buses had been maintained for decades. The musical score was a reading of the bus workers’ names. The show was self-directed: The audience would drift through the space to discover a performance around one corner or in front of one old window.

In 2012, she attained new levels in Dear Pina, a tribute to the groundbreaking German choreographer Pina Bausch. This idea required 28 dancers. The venue was equally ambitious: the Breeding Barn at Shelburne Farms. Imagine a stage fifty times larger than the one at the Flynn. Yet it was moving and engaging from the first moment to the last. Dance in Vermont had reached a new scale.

Almost inversely, her next work, Threads and Thresholds, was performed inside the snug Kent Museum in Calais. In that immersive show, dancer and audience were close to one another, breathing the same air. A thump from another room meant dance was going on in there too.

By then she had taught hundreds of dancers. Any place could serve as the set. Any sound, or even silence, could accompany the choreography. The range of ages and body types grew. People with different physical abilities joined the cast. Always, at the center, there was human movement, exacting and emotive. Technique was not some cold mechanism for making shapes with bodies. Technique was a tool of expression. Technique was a way to connect.

Meanwhile she nurtured other choreographers and dance producers. She attended shows by new groups, and she’d rush backstage after the show to bestow praise and fierce hugs. She has caused all boats to rise in Vermont’s dance harbor.

And now she is embarked on her greatest production yet: “The Quarry Project.” This is a performance within the walls, and on the water, of the Barre Granite Quarry. Dancers will float, musicians likewise, while the unique acoustics and reflections of light on the water, create a stage like no other. This show could only happen in Vermont. “The Quarry Project” requires the involvement of dancers, musicians, companies, sponsors, and eventually an audience that will see something rare, ephemeral, and unforgettable.

The Herb Lockwood prize is awarded to people who not only create their art at the highest artistic level, but have also nurtured the state’s other practitioners of that art. The prize has gone to an actor, a bookmaker, a filmmaker, a novelist, a musician, and the founder of a puppet theater company. Dance is different. It’s an especially hard art form, punishing on the body, difficult to finance, hard to stage. Yet this year’s winner has bested these challenges over and over. Most incredibly, her greatest work is still ahead.

Please join us in congratulating the winner of the 2020 Herb Lockwood Prize, the state’s matriarch of dance, Hannah Dennison.


You would know him at a distance of two hundred feet: wearing a vest, or top hat, or both. He’s flashing a grin somewhere between Jerry Garcia and a leprechaun. And in his hands, there is a musical instrument. 

It might be a fife, or a pennywhistle, or some other woodwind. It might be a traditional minstrel’s drum. It could be a guitar, or mandolin, or bouzouki. It might be a set of percussion spoons. Most of all, it could be an accordion, either the big chording kind or the small lap-sized button instrument. On an odd day, if you catch him at the right time, you might even hear him on the hurdy-gurdy. 

And where is this man playing? Everywhere. Since his arrival in Burlington in 1975, he has performed in countless venues, bringing traditional acoustic music to audiences young and old – in churches and pubs, weddings and memorials, schools and First Nights, coffeehouses and clubs far and wide. As Vermont’s acoustic music scene has evolved over the years – The Black Rose and the Burlington Coffeehouse come and gone, and may Rachel Bissex rest in peace – this man has been a constant, a reliable fan and dependable supporter of folk traditions.

His repertoire is encyclopedic, across decades, cultures, nations and languages – provided the song is in some older musical tradition. But the performance is not about him. He might do a show of music entirely by local songwriters.
He also introduces tens of thousands of people to the music of those Vermonters on his radio show “All the Traditions,” a staple of Vermont Public Radio that airs on Sundays from 7 to 10. He has hosted that show since 1996, or roughly 1200 evenings – an unequaled legacy. His shows are as instructive as they are entertaining, as he introduces listeners to new artists (always favoring the local), new recordings, and new venues for hearing live music. 

In fact he is such a staple of the community, he authored a book about it: Legendary Locals of Burlington, VT, a primer for anyone wanting to understand the characters who shaped Vermont’s, Queen City. He also has written reviews of musicians and recordings, frequently with a slant that is more supportive than critical – not because he lacks high standards, but because he encourages other musicians to attain them. 

Unlike most experts with decades of experience, his tone in print, on the air, and onstage is dependably modest and laced with humor and wit. When he plays, it looks effortless … unless you notice the furrow in his brow, which reveals that he is concentrating hard, that he is striving to make just the right sound. 

A graduate of the University of Vermont, with a masters in library science from Syracuse University, he retired from the Fletcher Free Library in 2018 after 28 years there – another way in which he is a local legend. Mushroom hunters also know him to be a formidable forager. 

The Herb Lockwood Prize was created to recognize art performed at a high level, by a person who also assisted other artists, or helped to build new audiences, or in some way enriched the community above and beyond their own craft, and did so with humility and humor. 

For his high-quality traditional musicianship, for his encouragement and support of countless local musicians, for his introduction of new music to Vermonters far and wide, and above all for the twinkle of mischief always in his eye, please congratulate this year’s winner of the Herb Lockwood Prize, a Vermont treasure, the one and only Robert Resnik. 


Peter Schumann’s puppet shows began on a neighborhood scale on New York City’s Lower East Side in 1963. The concerns then were rents, rats, and a police force that was more threatening than protecting. Puppetry offered a way to broach these subjects with grace and humor. Offering tasty sourdough rye bread to the audience didn’t hurt either. The symbolism of bread, in a culture starved for meaning, is obvious. And delicious. And thus, Bread and Puppet was born.

In 1970, Peter Schumann moved Bread and Puppet to Vermont, eventually landing in the town of Glover. A piece of farmland there has served as the troupe’s home base ever since. Glover was the birthplace of Our Domestic Resurrection Circus. This two-day event became a summer ritual for thousands of Vermonters. The circus incorporated political skits, concerts and a touch of vaudeville.

Over time, Bread and Puppet’s shows have grown in scale and complexity. The paper-mâché puppets have gotten larger, eventually towering over their audiences. The shows have also incorporated more and more volunteer actors, thrilled at the chance of taking part. Under Peter Schumann’s tutelage, many hundreds of young people have been trained in the arts of puppetry, dance, and theater.

As the productions grew, so did the scale of the issues they addressed. One notable example was described by journalist Holland Cotter in the New York Times (Aug 5, 2007):

… In 1982, Bread and Puppet led a nuclear freeze parade in New York City during the United Nations sessions on disarmament. Mr. Schumann brought some 250 masks and puppets from Vermont, rounded up and trained thousands of volunteers, and in just a few days organized one of the most spectacular pieces of public theater the city has ever seen.

Titled “The Fight Against the End of the World,” it was an epic in three stages that included figures with stars for heads, crimson-and-black imps swarming around a figure of death on a skeletal horse, and a tableau of white birds and a blue ark in full sail. In the midst of it, Mr. Schumann himself appeared in a red-white-and-blue Uncle Sam outfit, perched atop sky-high stilts, dancing to a ragtime tune.

Hundreds of thousands of people lined Fifth Avenue, rapt, quietly beaming; many wiped their eyes. They had been given a gift, an image of affirmation on a tremendous scale. …

A communitarian and pacifist, Peter Schumann has made a point of addressing a wide range of social and political issues with his puppetry and art. It should come as no surprise that his work is controversial to some and music to others. That’s the nature of the space he occupies. However, there is no denying that his work serves as a catalyst for conversation. And isn’t that one of the critical functions of art and literature?

It is with great honor that we present the 2018 Herb Lockwood Prize to a true Vermont treasure. 

Click here for high-resolution images of Peter and the award logo.

2017 Winner: Howard Frank Mosher 

Howard Frank Mosher is a Vermont literary institution. A resident of the state for 53 years, he has published eleven novels set in Vermont (four of them made into films by director Jay Craven), and two memoirs.

His titles are iconic and instantly recognizable: A Stranger in the Kingdom, Where the Rivers Flow North, Disappearances, Waiting for Teddy Williams.

His subject is always Vermont, but not in a postcard way. Rather, he brings rough and tumble hill folk to life, exposes racism and narrow-mindedness, and finds generosity and humor in the most modest of places. He is the bard of the Northeast Kingdom, although in his books it is called Kingdom County.

After he was diagnosed with cancer in 2008 (and underwent 46 radiation treatments), Mosher embarked on a literary tour of America, covering 20,000 miles in his aging Chevy Celebrity as he visited the 100 best independent bookstores in the country. His book on that trip, The Great Northern Express, was hailed as hilarious and poignant, half memoir and half an American road book classic.

His craft and character have been widely recognized, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Award, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Literature Award, the Vermont Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts, and the New England Independent Booksellers Association President’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts.

Mosher’s works are landmarks, but his personal style is modesty personified. At one writers' conference, in which the instructors were given 150 words to deliver their biography, his entire bio read: “Howard Frank Mosher is a writer in Vermont.”

On his blog, Mosher uses his words to praise books by other Vermont writers worthy of greater recognition, to celebrate small bookstores, and to support small publishers—always the ones based in Vermont. He has helped many a Vermont writer with words of encouragement, even those yet to be published.

Howard Frank Mosher is a Vermont treasure in the fullest sense of the word.

2016 Winner: Nora Jacobson 

Filmmaker Nora Jacobson was born in Norwich, Vermont and spent eight years of her childhood in Paris. She graduated from Dartmouth College and earned an MFA from the school of the Chicago Art Institute. She is one of Vermont’s most prolific and gifted filmmakers.

Her films include Delivered Vacant (an eight year project about gentrification in Hoboken, NJ which the NY Times called “an urban epic”), My Mother’s Early Lovers, Nothing Like Dreaming, Tremors in the System, Sun and Moon Were Children and Lived on the Earth, and Habits and Choices: Living with HIV.

Nora’s works have won wide acclaim, including the Golden Gate Award, the Best Independent Film Award at the Ajijic Festival Internacional de Cine, the Audience Award at the Maine International Film Festival, Best of Fest at the Lake Placid Film Forum, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

A former film professor in New York, Nora returned to the Green Mountain State 21 years ago. Since then, she founded Vermont Unity TV, a film contest for young filmmakers. She sits on the Community Council of Vermont PBS, and she founded the White River Film Festival.

Nora’s signature work is the 2014 film series, Freedom and Unity: The Vermont Movie. This history of Vermont culture was created in a collaboration of more than 50 Vermont filmmakers, with Nora at the helm. The extraordinary 6-part, 9-hour film, was 7 years in the making. Nora’s ambitious vision to tell the story of Vermont on film—from the Abenakis to the slaves to the present day—is a unique experiment in artistic collaboration.

One could say that she has taken documentary filmmaking to a higher level by producing a non-fiction epic that is varied in content and filmic style, while giving the impression of having a master puppeteer. This magnum opus has opened our eyes to aspects of Vermont's history, and perhaps its singularity, in a way that no other medium has done.

Nora’s works in progress include a biography of the Vermont poet Ruth Stone, The Hanji Box about art and adoption in Korea, and an untitled film about pond hockey and the communities that arise around it.


2015 Winner: Claire Van Vliet

Photo by Todd R. Lockwood

Since 1966, fine artist and typographer Claire Van Vliet has been creating fine art prints and handmade books in Newark, Vermont. From her modest studio in the Northeast Kingdom, she has impacted the art of bookmaking and printmaking around the world.

Claire’s art has influenced and inspired several generations of artists and fine bookmakers — many who have gone on to important careers of their own. Her works are featured in museums, libraries and personal collections throughout the country and have been quietly celebrated by the Vermont arts community for decades.

Claire is a recognized pioneer in the art of book construction, using weaving and folding to bind pages without the use of adhesives. To hold one of Claire’s books in your hands is a journey into a rarified world — a world of color, texture, design and language. But her creations are not just art for art’s sake. Claire often uses her work to speak out about human failings and social justice.

Claire has been the recipient of many awards and honors, including a MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship and an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from the University of Arts in Philadelphia. In 1955, Claire founded Janus Press, which has fostered unique collaborations between writers, papermakers, printmakers and artists. Janus Press has published over ninety books since its inception.

Even with such prodigious output, Claire still finds time to open her studio to local schools, and for many young artists it has been their first glimpse into the magical world of printing and bookmaking.

To her peers, Claire Van Vliet is an icon. Her skill and dedication to her medium and her willingness to share her gifts with others is a rare and special combination.

See examples of Claire’s work here.

2014 Winner: Steve Small

Photo by Peter Lourie — provided courtesy of Middlebury Actors Workshop

Steve Small is an actor and director of the Addison Repertory Theater Company in Middlebury, Vermont. He is one of the most skilled actors in the state. His voice, attention to detail, emotional courage, and willingness to go wherever the demands of a character lead, make him spellbinding on stage.

In the past three years Steve has played Bobby Gould in Speed the Plow, Roy in Lone Star, Lennie in Of Mice and Men, and Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. What remains common in each role is craft, energy, and a complete commitment to the personality he is creating on stage. These are familiar and iconic roles, as difficult to interpret with originality as anyone playing the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz or McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. Yet Steve's performances are fresh and unique.

As a veteran actor, Steve is hilarious and shows deft comic timing. As the addled Lennie, who accidentally kills a woman he only wanted to touch for a second, he uses silence to powerful effect — and is heartbreaking.

But Steve's greatest contribution is what he has done for kids. Addison Repertory Theater serves several purposes. First, it works with kids from local high schools to teach them about the theater. Kids write plays. They act. They dance. They learn technical skills, from set design to lighting to stage management to box office control. Many of these kids are already interested in theater, and have been looking for a way to express their interest beyond the typical school play. ART gives them real-life tasks that require competence, with other people depending on them, and with an audience that must be served. To a typical insecure adolescent, a standing ovation is much more than applause. It is a life-changing validation.

Congratulations to Steve Small for setting such a high standard for himself and those around him. This exemplifies Vermont creativity at its best.