Bringing Burlington to You: 5 Art Hubs for College Students

Looking for the perfect college art community? Burlington, VT and Champlain College have the best spots for artists of every medium.

Burlington has been called the #1 College Town by Travel + Leisure not only because of its welcoming community, innovative businesses, and fantastic views, but because it is also a great place for students to get involved through internships, volunteering, and, of course, the arts. 

Burlington is a small city where artists of any age and experience can thrive. Many Champlain students have found dynamic and supportive ways to actively participate in the arts on and off campus. Whether you’re interested in visual or digital mediums, performance art or written arts, Burlington always has a way for everyone to engage in something new. 

Here’s our top five list of places and events student creatives can get involved in. 

5. South End Art Hop

Champlain students enjoying the yearly Burlington arts district Art Hop.

It’s hard to talk about art in Burlington without mentioning the Art Hop. The Art Hop is the largest art-based event in Vermont, and it happens right outside Champlain College’s front door. In early September, the arts district on Pine Street opens its doors as Burlington artists put their work on display. All mediums line the street during Art Hop, from sculptures to found art, textiles, pottery, performance art, videography, interactive art, and more. Many Champlain classes even incorporate the Art Hop into their curriculum. Champlain students can be seen writing articles and creating videos about the event, or even live streaming the event and interviewing artists for local TV.  

Every year Champlain’s Broadcast Media Production majors livestream the Art Hop and interview artists and community members alike.
Champlain Broadcast students capture different exhibits and people up and down Pine Street. For Art Hop, Pine Street is closed to traffic, allowing artists and Champlain students to fill the street with art.

You don’t just have to see the art, you can put up some of your own too! Champlain students in the past have registered to display their works at the Art Hop. It’s a fantastic way to learn more about the Burlington art scene and have your own creative voice be heard. 

4. Burlington Writers Workshop

Champlain Professional Writing students engaged in a peer-to-peer creative writing workshop.

Whether you write poetry, fiction, nonfiction, or creative nonfiction, writing is an art—and luckily Burlington has many spaces for writers, too. 

Located on Main Street, the Burlington Writers Workshop is a free workshopping program for writers of all ages and experiences in Vermont. Writers meet up to get positive constructive feedback on their works in progress. The group offers sessions for book-length fiction, shorter fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and general Friday morning workshops. 

Champlain students are welcomed and encouraged to come to any and all workshops. Our students have even interned with the workshop in the past. You can also read and submit to the literary magazine that was born out of the Burlington Writers Workshop: the Mud Season Review

3. Burlington City Arts (BCA)

Champlain students engage with art on Pine Street, the home of the Art Hop and Burlington City Arts studio.

Burlington is a very artistic community, and our own city arts center shows off just how creative we can be. Complete with a gallery space and a community work studio, BCA covers a diverse range of mediums and interests. As a student, you can wander into the BCA art gallery on Church Street, or you can take classes at their Pine Street studio. Throughout the academic year, BCA offers one-day (cheap) drop-in classes like jewelry-making, printmaking, painting, photography, and clay, and longer weekly classes for subjects like watercolor, figure drawing, pastels, comic drawing, wheel throwing, and more. 

Champlain students can take classes at the BCA art studio incuding photography, clay, printmaking, and many more creative mediums.

If you’re around in the summer, BCA hosts an Artist Market every Saturday on the Church Street Marketplace in front of the art gallery. You can find everything from wood carvings, paintings, ceramics, stationary, and even games at the market, making for a fun afternoon of engaging with local art. 

2. The Grind Open Mic Night

Champlain students perform music, poetry, stand-up, and more every Wednesday at The Grind Open Mic Night in Champlain College’s IDX Fireside Lounge.

At Champlain College, we have an open mic night every Wednesday: The Grind. Located in our very own IDX Student Life Center at the Fireside Lounge, the Grind welcomes singers, musicians, poets, comedians, performance artists, and more. The Grind is the dedicated space for Champlain students to express themselves in a friendly, confidence-boosting environment. Plus, the Grind has a very committed audience, so you can always find people to share your art with. 

Anyone can sign up to participate! First to sign up, first to play is the rule at the Grind. Come every Wednesday from 9:00 pm to 11:30 pm to perform or to support your friends. 

1. Champlain College Art Gallery and Nook Gallery 

Always changing and introducing new art to the Champlain community, the Champlain College Art Gallery is free to students.

Come on, you knew we were going to put this as number one! While there are many fantastic gallery spaces in Burlington to explore, we think our galleries in our Center for Communication and Media (CCM) building are the best for college students. Artists from all over the world—and all over Vermont—display their work in the Champlain College Art Gallery every semester on a rotating schedule. We’ve had collections of paintings, sculptures, found art, musical art, interactive art that students can climb into, and even art created through coding and games displayed on the walls—all free to students. Every semester, the gallery hosts student art as well through shows like the Senior Visual Communication Design Capstone Show, the Game Studio Capstone Show where all senior-made games are available to play, and our Juried Student Art Show where all Champlain students can display art of any medium to be judged by students and faculty. 

Innovative and interactive artwork at the 2019 fall Visual Communication Design Senior Show in the Champlain College Art Gallery.
Students show off their work to friends, family, and potential employers at the Visual Communication Design Senior Show in the Champlain College Art Gallery.

In addition to our main gallery, we have our Nook Gallery space that is specifically for student artists all year round. On the bottom floor of CCM, class projects and individual projects are displayed in this space. In previous years, students have created typography art, sculptures out of sticks and mud, poetry chapbooks, and even sculptures using old sinks to be shown off in the Nook. 

An typography installation in the Nook Gallery Space by Champlain College alumni Peter Moore ’18 // Creative Media and Maggie DeCapua ’18 // Creative Media.

Both spaces are creative, innovative, and a great place to see and display art with friends. Interested? Learn more about the gallery here and about our creative majors at Champlain here.

Bonus tip: If you’re looking for more theatre, dance, and music in your art scene, the Flynn Center for Performing Arts is the Main Street spot for you. We’ll be covering this special Burlington spot more in our upcoming Top 5 Music Venues article, but for now, check out their website to find out more about this amazing Vermont destination.

Looking for more things to do in Burlington? Want to learn more about Champlain College? Keep reading The View to find more.

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