The Arts Institute (GIA)

Are you an aspiring artist? Amplify your creativity at the Governor's Institute on the Arts!

“ These past two weeks have been wild. I have met many brilliant people, and learned so much. Thank you GIA, for such an unforgettable experience.”

— Joah,   2023 Arts Alum

2024 GIA Check In Information

Registration is on Sunday June 23rd, 2024 from 1:00-3:30pm.
Please follow the signs up Seminary Street off of Main Street in Castleton. If you need to check in with the nurse/hand in medications, please try to arrive on the earlier side.
  • 1:00 – 2:00pm: Last names starting with A – G (inclusive)
  • 1:45 – 2:45pm: Last names starting with H – O (inclusive)
  • 2:15 – 3:15pm: Last names starting with P – Z 
Here are Directions to Castleton University. When you come into Castleton, turn off of Main Street onto Seminary Street and there will be signs directing you to our friendly GIA greeters. They will hand you registration instructions and a COVID rapid test to self-administer in your car, after which you will bring it to the registration table to show your negative result and get instructions for next steps!

Medications — If you will be taking any prescription medications at GIA, you must bring them in the original container. 

Also, please do NOT bring more than the amount you need to take at GIA. Our Health Team will be available during Registration to meet with students/parents/guardians as needed.
GIV Arts Student

2024 GIA-- What To Pack?

Looking for a packing list of what to bring? Scroll down to the “Got Questions?” section where you’ll find the packing list and more FAQ below.

About the Arts Institute...

At the Governor’s Institute on the Arts (GIA), you are given the platform to amplify your artistic voice and join a community of young artists from all over Vermont for an exciting two weeks of collaboration, creation, and inspiration. The experience helps develop skills in whatever artistic disciplines you choose alongside fellow creators who share a passion for art and creative thinking! With immersions into theater, music, writing, visual arts, film, dance, and more, the community at the Arts Institute fosters a diverse, meaningful, and life-changing shared experience.

The biggest and best known of the Governor’s Institutes, the Arts Institute has helped shape the trajectories and artistic visions of thousands of students, including world-famous musicians, actors, and artists. Together, we will build a vibrant artistic community, bringing together outstanding professional teaching artists and curious, motivated students to explore the processes of creativity. We can’t promise you’ll end up famous – but we promise you’ll have an amazing two weeks of fun, learning, and inspiration and leave with a whole new perspective and commitment to your art.

Sunday, June 23rd – Sunday, July 7th, 2024
@ Vermont State University Castleton
Castleton, VT

For information regarding this Institute’s sliding-scale tuition support, please click here.

Arts Group 2023

At This Institute You Will...

  • Discover new ways to interact with a variety of artistic mediums and styles.
  • Explore new media and professional-grade equipment to create emergent forms of art.
  • Network with professional artists and learn about their artistic practices.
  • Make new friends with artistic peers from all over the state who share your passions and interests.
  • Learn about college options and opportunities in professional art careers.
  • Unleash your unique talents and hone your original voice.
  • Have the time of your life!


Experience the vibe at Arts!

Attending this Institute can earn you credit and proficiencies!

How To Get High School Credit

We encourage all students who participate in an Institute to use the experience to earn high school credit.

Awarding high school credit is at the discretion of the student’s sending school, so we recommend students make a plan with their high school guidance counselor before attending GIV to earn their credit.

Each school has unique requirements around proficiencies, credits, and PLPs, so there are multiple pathways to awarding credit based on your school's system of assessments.

However, we recommend that high schools award credit by having students produce one or more of the following...
- A presentation to reflect on the overall experience to present for counselors and/or teachers in the fall after their participation.
- A learning journal for submission about areas of learning, activities, reflections.
- Work examples to share with sending school teachers (physical or digital products, writing, videos of presentations, learning journal, etc.) to be reviewed and assessed.

Please reach out to us at [email protected] if we can directly help or support you or your school in determining credit opportunities for your experience at GIV.

Institute Format

2-week intensive
2 classes each day
Students sign up for classes upon arrival
Exploration between artistic mediums
Artist Series (nightly performances and talks with artists/musicians)
Students can lead their own workshops
Dormitories and roommates
10:1 student-to-staff ratio

Prior Course Offerings

Each year the Arts Institute offers unique class opportunities, so this list is subject to change.
Visual art
Digital media
Basket weaving
Mask making
and more!

Hours and Opportunities

108+ hours of arts training
Art industry exploration
Performing for live audiences

Credit Recommendations for Schools

Equivalent to one semester of high school credit in 2 of the following:
Arts - Dance
Arts - Media Arts
Arts - Music
Arts - Theater
Arts- Visual Arts
Social Studies

VT Proficiency Indicators

This Institute’s curriculum has been aligned with the following Vermont proficiency-based graduation requirements at the high school level. Proficiency credit between Arts areas and English should only be awarded based on student class selections.

Arts: Dance (Create, Present, Respond, Connect)
Arts: Media Arts (Create, Present, Respond, Connect)
Arts: Music (Create, Present, Respond, Connect)
Arts: Theater (Create, Present, Respond, Connect)
Arts: Visual Arts (Create, Present, Respond, Connect)

English Language Arts
- Reading: 1b, 1c, 1d, 1e
- Writing: 2a, 2b, 2c, 2d, 2e
- Speaking/Listening: 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d, 4e
- Speaking/Listening: 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d, 5e

Transferable Skills
- Communication: 1a, 1b, 1c, 1d, 1e, 1f, 1g
- Self-Direction: 2a, 2b, 2c, 2d, 2e, 2f, 2g, 2h, 2i
- Problem Solving: 3a, 3b, 3c, 3d, 3e, 3f, 3g, 3h
- Citizenship: 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d, 4e, 4f
- Informed Thinking: 5a, 5b, 5f

So how does it all work?

Choose from a menu of dozens of expert-led courses in film, visual arts, music, dance, writing, theater, and other media, then immerse yourself in two of your preferred class selections.

**Classes are different each year and announced when you arrive!

Outside of class, your time is filled with engaging workshops led by community members–teachers, staff, and you! Always wanted to learn… beatboxing? Salsa dance? Ukulele? Or teach… Pastel techniques? Adobe Premiere Pro? Haiku?

GIA’s open workshop format is endlessly enriching, empowering, and engaging.

Want More? Check out these videos!

An Example of a Day at the Arts Institute

7:30 AM – 8:30 AM: Breakfast
8:45 AM – 9:15 AM: Community Meeting
9:15 AM – 10:00 AM: Community Chorus
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM: Morning Class
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM: Lunch
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM: Workshops
2:00 PM – 4:00 PM: Afternoon Class
4:00 PM – 5:00 PM: Workshops / Specials
5:30 PM – 6:30 PM: Dinner
7:30 PM: Artist Series
9:30 PM: Suite Check-in
10:15 PM: Bedtime

Watch the Video

Class & Offering Areas:


Whether or not you take a music class, you’ll be surrounded by music at GIA. Chorus in the morning will have you singing and dancing all day long. Classes often include songwriting, choir, group or individual composition. Musicians will grow personally and artistically as they learn to write their own music, collaborate with others, and have ample opportunity to perform on stage! Jam sessions abound, and many a GIA band has formed and performed in a mere 2 weeks.

Check out these VIDEOS or listen to GIA on Bandcamp

Visual Arts

Over two weeks, our visual artists overflow the gallery with original works. We offer classes in a range of mediums–both 2D and 3D. Our drawing or painting classes include AND move beyond the boundaries of traditional practices. We work with nude models, we use weird tools, we work with our eyes closed, we work BIG and small. We work representationally AND abstractly. Our goal is to break you out of your comfort zone and provide you with some non-traditional approaches to visual arts!

Watch: Visual Arts at GIA

Theater Arts

Theater performance classes will develop characters, scenes, and emotions that translate to the stage. Past classes included Improv ensembles, clowning, individual character and scene work. You’ll learn new theater exercises and games that hone your skills and help you work with others. Non-performance theater classes have included mask-making, stage prosthetics/makeup, and our infamous lighting classes which–beyond creating amazing projects–offer the opportunity to light professional performances in the evening!

Meet one of our GIA theater faculty alums – Isaac Eddy


All ability levels are welcome in our dance classes (and all of our classes for that matter). Unlike conservatory classes, or Ballet 1, 2, or 3, our classes are centered around movement and self-awareness. We learn how to express ourselves, ask questions, and have fun through movement. We often have one class involving choreography (both developing your own and learning others’) and one that delves into experiential and authentic movement.

Watch: Dance at GIA


We offer classes where writers can engage deeply with their craft. Creative writing classes in the past have included fiction, narrative, poetry, lyric writing, playwriting, and some with a mix of everything. Our writers are given the opportunity to write for the page, and are also encouraged to share their work through readings and performances, both in classroom settings and amongst the larger community.

Our writing students often find themselves Filled with Inspiration

Film & Digital Media

Film, photography, and digital media arts are so ubiquitous in our world that they have also become an integral part of our curriculum. Students make anything from narrative or informational films to abstract and multimedia projects. In Vermont State University Castleton’s fully equipped video studio with green screen and editing suite, there’s no shortage of possibilities! With access to the Adobe suite, our digital artists have created photoshop stills and animations, utilizing photography and traditional art mediums.

Check out these student-made VIDEOS

The Artist Series

Every night we enjoy unique evening performances by musicians, illustrators, sculptors, comedians, theater troops, dancers, filmmakers, poets, songwriters, creators, and collaborators. You will see local artists, alums, faculty & staff performing on the BIG STAGE at the Vermont State University Castleton Fine Arts Center. The Artist Series is the highlight of our evenings, where we come together to be inspired, to ask thoughtful questions, and to expose ourselves to many different artists and artistic genres.

Watch: Artist Series at GIA

Got Questions?

What do the days and weeks look like?

In general, GIA days follow the same structure as a typical day though every day has tons of new, different and exciting workshops, specials, performance and more. The one exception is the middle Sunday which is unique as we plan special activities and celebrations!

Where is GIA held and what are the facilities like?

GIA occurs on the campus of Vermont State University Castleton in Castleton, VT. We have full use of their gorgeous, state-of-the-art Fine Arts Center and we also occupy dormitories, eat at their dining hall, and hang out in a number of the campus green spaces. We have a wonderful, long-standing, respectful relationship with Castleton’s campus and employees and we’re excited to welcome you into this environment and relationship.

Where do I live — and with whom?

You’ll share a room in a dorm at Vermont State University Castleton with a roommate (who you don't know in advance). Your room will be part of a small group of rooms (a suite) with a common space in the middle. You’ll have an RA who lives in your suite with you and your suite-mates, who’ll be an awesome, friendly resource for you to navigate GIA smoothly and safely. You’ll also have other RAs in your classes, so there will be lots of cool folks to connect with, befriend and answer questions! The community aspect is as important as the arts at GIA.

What's in my room when I arrive?

Each student gets their own bed, dresser, closet (though without hangers so bring some if you need them), desk, and chair. There is an overhead light so feel free to bring a lamp and/or fan if that makes things feel more comfortable. It can get toasty in the rooms, so a fan is highly recommended!

What should I bring?

For your Dorm/Room

● Bedding (including blankets, pillows, sheets). You may also want to bring a mattress pad; the mattresses are covered in plastic and can be sticky in the heat! The beds are extra-long twin beds, a funny longer size compared to a standard twin bed. Helpful Tip: if you have queen size sheets, they will be big but will totally work!)
● Alarm clock
● Fan (there is no air conditioning in the dorms)
● Reading light or lamp (if you want)
● Bedroom decorations (whatever will make you feel that Castleton is your home away from home)

For You

● Clothes and shoes for all kinds of weather (hot, cold, rainy...)
● Clothes you can mess up (you might just find yourself with charcoal in your hands...)
● Towel (hand towel/wash cloth too!) and soap/shampoo, toiletries, etc.
● A face mask (or a few!)
● Dress-up/Fun-fancy/Silly clothes (optional, but community members often like to dress up in fancy dresses or silly outfits for performances like contra dancing night, faculty shows, and so on...)
● Bathing Suit - We don’t have access to a pool, but sometimes we have a sprinkler or slip ‘n slide, so it’s up to you....
● Rain gear/boots/umbrella so that it doesn’t rain on your parade!
● Laundry detergent and quarters (Dorms have coin-operated washers and dryers. It costs about $3.00 to do a load of laundry.)
● Snacks! (and maybe extra to share with your roommate and suite-mates if that's fun!)
● Dollar bills and pocket change for vending machines, snacks, bookstore items, stamps, etc. We sell GIA T-shirts ($20) and sweatshirts ($35) on the first and last days of GIA.
● Your journal
● Water Bottle
● A Small Backpack - depending on what class you are in, you may want a backpack to carry a notebook, sheet music, dance clothes etc.
● A watch and/or alarm clock if you have one. This will help you get to class on time without carrying your cell phone around all day. (See: What Not To Bring below...)


● Musical instruments (You never know! You will want them with you even if you don't take a music class!)
● Anything you might want to share with the community (You can run your own workshops, and may want to collaborate with other students.)
● Stamps and envelopes for sending notes home


● Computer
● Pets
● Television set
● Video games
● Etc.! We are not responsible for your valuables, and therefore really discourage you bringing electronic items. Just as importantly, we value interpersonal over internet connection.

Can I choose my roommate?

Nope, we try our best to room you with someone you don’t know, actually. GIA is all about meeting new people and connecting with other VT artists from around the state in one big community. And, believe it or not, there’s so much to do that we don’t really spend that much time in our rooms except for all that necessary sleeping!

How do I know what classes I'm in?

You’ll find out the class options for this year on Sunday after you arrive. You’ll have a chance to meet all the faculty and hear a little about every class. On Sunday night you’ll identify some classes that you’d be interested in taking, and on Monday morning (once we’ve tried our best to get everyone into at least one—and often two—of their most desired classes) you’ll find out which classes you’ve gotten in to. They are all great choices, so you can’t really go wrong in picking! To get a sense of classes that are offered, check out our CLASSES & OFFERINGS section above, and visit the different options.

Can I take two classes with the same teacher?

No—and why would you? All of our faculty is fantastic and we want you to get a chance to learn from as many of them as possible, both in class and out. See our Faculty & Staff to get a sense of the GIA team!

I am a vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free/have another dietary restriction. Will this be a problem?

No, it shouldn’t be. The cafeteria works hard to have vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc., options available for us. If you’re concerned, let a member of staff know when you arrive and we’ll make sure you are supported and have a wealth of food options at every meal.

Can I arrive early?

No, we ask that everyone arrive on the first Sunday during scheduled registration. If you are struggling to find a ride to GIA, let us know and we’ll try to connect you with another student coming from your area.

Can I leave early?

We'd prefer it if you could stay and participate in the entire duration of the institute. We work very hard to structure a holistic and immersive experience and the final hours are some of the most important (trust us, you won't want to miss it!). If you’re concerned about a specific time conflict, please contact us.

I have a conflict on a day during the institute. Is it possible for me to leave briefly and then return?

No. We ask that you commit to the full experience for the duration of the institute so that we can build a fully immersive community, so we ask that all students are present for the entire GIA experience.

What kind of shoes should I bring?

Every day you will walk the 8 minutes (each way) to and from the student dorms and the Fine Arts Center multiple times. This walk will seem like nothing after day one but it's important that you bring comfortable shoes, especially for the parade day. There are also times to dress up for Artist Series and performances so feel free to bring some fun pumps, glittery heels or your furry slippers(!). Other questions? See our list of what to bring in your acceptance package!

I forgot something! Can my parent/guardian drop it off to me?

No worries! If you forgot something, your parents/guardians can drop it off to us at the Fine Arts Center Box Office and we will be sure that it gets to you.

Can I drive myself to the institute?

Yes! You may drive yourself to the Institute if you are licensed to due so and parking is available. However, once you arrive you should not return to your car until the Institute finishes on the final Sunday. We ask that you please get everything that you need out of your car when you arrive and then lock it up for the Institute so that it is safe. This policy is in place to protect our shared safety and liability.

I won't have a cell phone—how do I call home?

If you need to call home, just come by the Box Office. We will have phones available to use!

Do I need to bring money to the institute?

No! You absolutely do not need to bring money. However, GIA does sell Institute T-shirts and sweatshirts at registration and on the final day, the proceeds for which go directly back into the program.

Is there a place on campus where I can buy food/supplies/etc.?

Yes! We eat in the Dining Hall three times a day. If you think you'll be hungry more often than that, you may want to pack some extra snacks. There are some vending machines in the dorms, so feel free to bring dollar bills and quarters. Students are expected to bring what they need BUT, if you run out of shampoo, etc., just let us know and we can always help you out!

Can I send and receive snail mail at GIA?

You betcha! Outgoing mail gets dropped off at the Fine Arts Center box office (you’ll know where this is) and incoming mail will arrive each morning in the gallery near the office.

The address to send mail to GIA is:

Governor’s Institute on the Arts
c/o Vermont State University Castleton
Fine Arts Center Box Office
Castleton, VT 05735

Meet some of our 2024 Professional Teaching Artists...

Tania L. Balan-Gaubert | Faculty

Born on Council of the Three Fires and Miami lands (Illinois) to Haitian parents, Tania Balan-Gaubert was raised between Chicago’s southside and the Flatlands neighborhood of Brooklyn on Lenapehoking land (New York). Guided by Haitian, African, and Indigenous-based cultural traditions, Balan-Gaubert creates works that are caught between several realms. She combines personal stories, folklore, images, found and ready-made objects, and spirituality with craft materials to construct hybrid works. Balan-Gaubert earned her MFA from California College of the Arts in 2018 and her MA in African American Studies from Columbia University in 2012. She has exhibited in Chicago at the Haitian American Museum of Chicago (HAMOC), in New York at the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI), Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art (MoCADA), CaribBEING House in residence at the Brooklyn Museum, Lefferts Historic House in Prospect Park, and in San Francisco at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD), San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI), and SOMArts Cultural Center.

Misoo Bang | Faculty

Misoo Bang is a Korean American artist who uses painting and drawing as her mode of emotional communication and storytelling. Her recent work, The Giant Asian Girls, and, The Lotus Flower series, contemplates the unique intersection of gender-based violence and racial stereotypes for Asian women living in the United States. Bang was selected as one of the Emerging Artists of New England in 2019 and Vermont Artist to Watch in 2020. Bang currently teaches studio art classes at University of Vermont and can be reached at [email protected].

Victoria Batista | Faculty

Victoria is an award winning creative swiss army knife, boasting extensive experience shooting, directing and editing content for brands like Coca Cola, RocNation, Smartwater, BOSE and Nissan among others. As a filmmaker, music video Director and Musician herself, she flexes between creative disciplines to bring a rhythmic and culture driven perspective to her craft as a filmmaker and artist. Her experience as a Latinx woman and her obsession with authenticity colors all of the work she does, and she is always seeking to create work with greater meaning while honoring, giving back and uplifting minority communities any way she can.

Isaac Eddy | Faculty

For twelve years Isaac has performed with Blue Man Group in New York City, Chicago, London, and Las Vegas. With the production he has helped cast and train Blue Men, captain casts, write material, and perform nightly in the show. Isaac is an Associate Professor of Theater and Drama at Northern Vermont University Johnson. There he built the Performance, Arts, and Technology undergrad which focuses on the student-led creation of new multi-disciplinary performance works. This program is in its third year of operation and has been highly influenced by the work that is created at GIA every summer! Concentrations include: Theatre/Musical Theatre, Dance, Music, Immersive Design, and Social Justice and Activism. Isaac is also a writer and a cartoonist and has been published in the New Yorker and in the weekly newspaper, The Herald of Randolph, Vermont. He makes animated documentary shorts for Time Magazine and has a non-fiction multi-panel series about the people that live and work in his neighborhood published in the New York Times’ Brooklyn blog, “The Local.” Isaac also created and animated the online series, “Cat, Dog, Stoop.”


Andrew Fish | Faculty

Andrew Fish is a painter and printmaker based in Somerville, MA. He studied at School of Visual Arts in NYC and received his MFA from Goddard College in VT. He has attended several artist residencies including the VT Studio Center, Manship Artists Residency + Studio in Gloucester, MA, Red Gate Gallery, Beijing, China, and Mass MoCA’s Assets for Artists Residency in North Adams, MA. He is the recipient of a Mass Cultural Council Finalist award in Painting, a Somerville Arts Council grant, a NY Studio School Award, and a St. Botolph Club Fellowship. His work has been exhibited in solo and group shows nationally and internationally including The Painting Center, NYC, Childs Gallery, Boston, MA, Artzu Gallery in Manchester, UK, and Addison Ripley Fine Art in Washington, DC. Fish teaches at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston. He is originally from VT and attended GIA as a high school student. He has also served as an RA and faculty member. Fish’s work explores the intersection of abstraction and representation, using the figure to investigate contemporary society and personal experience.

Andy Gagnon | Faculty

A native of Hardwick, Vermont, Andy Gagnon has dedicated his life to music. Gagnon has worked with the Vermont Jazz Camp, U-32’s summer jazz camp, the Get Thee to the Funnery camp in Barre, and the Green Mountain Youth Symphony Summer C.A.M.P., as well as being a private percussion instructor for many years. Gagnon has also served as a mentor for Music-COMP (formerly the Vermont MIDI Project) and as a guest conductor for numerous Vermont district music festivals. Gagnon holds a B.S. in Music Education with a concentration in music composition from the University of Vermont, and an M.F.A. in Music Composition from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. He regularly performs with The Renegade Groove, LOVECRAFT, The Vermont Jazz Ensemble, and PURPLE feat. Craig Mitchell, among many other artists and groups. Andy currently lives in Morrisville, Vermont with his wife Leah, their dogs Spock and Kiwi, Minerva the cat, and Poppy Seed the chinchilla. He is the instrumental music teacher at Stowe Elementary, Middle, and High schools.

Kailie Larkin | Faculty

Kailie Larkin is a teacher and artist dedicated to cultivating process-based creative environments for individual and collective growth. She holds a Masters in Theater Education from The City College of New York, trained with Double Edge Theatre, and is a member of The Royal Frog Ballet. For 14 years she directed The Chelsea Funnery Shakespeare Program, an experience that galvanized her commitment to teaching theater as a vital tool for self-development and community building. With student-led devising and technical ownership at the core of her work she has directed over 30 productions with students ages 12-18. Her teaching expertise includes improvisation, devising, Shakespeare, clowning, mask, shadow cinema, puppetry, and playwriting. Her current creative projects include writing a collection of poems, baking sourdough, and parenting her incredible kiddo Juno. She is beyond thrilled to return to GIA after being a student and RA in years past.

Nehemiah Luckett | Faculty

Nehemiah has been performing, composing and conducting for over 30 years. He connects his deep love of music to the transformative power of building community through breathing and singing with family and friends which he practiced from an early age in Jackson, Mississippi where he was born and raised. He has been a featured soloist at the National Cathedral, Carnegie Hall and has performed on six continents. Recent projects include: AMANI at Rattlestick Theater with National Black Theatre (Music Director), SCENE PARTNERS at Vineyard Theatre (Music Director) and RUBY with Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe in Sarasota, Florida (Co-Composer, Co-Orchestrator, and Music Supervisor). Nehemiah is a member of The Dramatists Guild, American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers (ASMAC) and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). He lives in the Bronx with his husband.

Cavan Meese | Faculty

Cavan Meese got his start in theater at an early age with the Bread and Puppet Theater and in performances at schools, libraries, clubs, festivals and small theaters around the country with his family. Cavan is an alumni of the Governor’s Institute on the Arts and first studied lighting design and television production at Vermont State College Castleton. He went on to The University of the Arts in Philadelphia where he studied theater arts and apprenticed with lighting designers and directors at the Pennsylvania Ballet, The Arden Theater, Pig Iron Theater, and others. Cavan has designed for Anais Mitchell (Hadestown), Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Circus Smirkus Big Top Tour, Phish, Vermont Stage Company, Lost Nation Theater, The Barre Opera House, Kingdom County Productions (The Voices Project Tour), Ryno Fest, The Northeast Kingdom Music Festival, and toured extensively as both a performer and lighting technician. Cavan is founder of The Parker Pie Company and the Village Hall barn stage in West Glover.

Alexa Rivera | Faculty

Alexa Rene’ Rivera (she/her) is a basket weaver of Puerto Rican and Jewish descent living in Vermont. Alexa is founder and owner of WOVN.COUNTRY, a small business selling baskets and teaching basket weaving workshops in the Northeast. Her workshops take place anywhere from institutions such as The Shelburne Craft School and Montgomery Center for the Arts, to friends’ backyards, a muddy farm in a flood plain, and basements where Punk Bands usually practice. Her work has been featured in Boston Home Magazine and for the Vermont Arts Council. Alexa’s studio is in Johnson, VT, where she also works as Program Coordinator at The Vermont Studio Center, an international artists’ and writers’ residency program. Alexa is interested in basket weaving as both a basic utilitarian craft, and as an important study of vessel, geography, intuition, and abundance. When not weaving baskets in her studio, you can find Alexa reading murder mysteries, and taking way too many pictures of food.

Daryl Seitchik | Faculty

Daryl Seitchik is a cartoonist and teacher. She is the author of the Eisner-nominated graphic novel Exits (Koyama Press, 2016) and the ongoing semi-autobiographical comics series Missy, which was recently published in The New Yorker. Her most recent book, Now and Other Dreams (Fieldmouse Press, 2022) collects surreal short story comics made over the last ten years. Daryl teaches comics workshops at schools, libraries, and museums throughout New England. She has two adorable cats and co-runs the micropress Parsifal Press with her partner in Vermont.

Ruth Shafer | Faculty

Ruth is a fiber artist based in Brattleboro, Vermont. She uses recycled materials and humor to explore the power of domesticity and the body at home. Bragging rights include a Creation Grant from the Vermont Arts Council, work in Fiber Art Now Magazine, and exhibitions at the Southern Vermont Arts Center and San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. Ruth is primarily self-taught and laughs really loud.

Shani Stoddard | Faculty

Shani Stoddard is a performing artist, choreographer, and educator from Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. He studied Dance and Musical Theater at The American Musical & Dramatic Academy in New York City, and he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Studies from Vermont State University (formerly, Johnson State College) in Johnson, Vermont. Shani’s artistic vision is rooted in the celebration of movement and bold narrative storytelling. Shani lives in Stannard, Vermont with his husband and their 3 dogs.

Storm Thomas | Faculty

Storm is an intensely creative and rigorous thinker. A multi-hyphenate drummer, writer, composer, and educator; Storm has been combining music, theater, and social justice theory single-mindedly and is sought out not just as a skilled maker but as a teacher, dramaturg, and consultant on intersectional thought in the musical theater form. Storm writes musicals: Notes on the Past (Trans Theater Fest), Ancient Future (Polyphone Festival), and Be Like Bone (in progress). Storm is currently an adjunct faculty member at Sarah Lawrence College. Past teaching experience includes: University of the Arts (Black Musical Theatre, New Musical Theater Lab), NYU Tisch Theater Studies (Queer Musical Theater, History of Musical Theater), Playwrights Downtown (Music for Performance), Theater of the Oppressed NYC, Completely Ridiculous Productions (Anti-Racist Musical Theater). Awards and accolades: New Visions Fellowship Finalist, Baltimore Center Stage finishing commission, Musical Theater Factory Maker 2021-2022, NYSCA Grant Recipient FY2022, Musical Theatre Educators’ Alliance Conference Keynote Speaker (2023). Storm is Black and Trans. Education: MFA in Theatre, Sarah Lawrence College.

Toussaint St. Negritude | Faculty

Former Poet Laureate of Belfast, Maine, and 2024 nominee for the Poet Laureateship of Vermont, poet, bass clarinetist, and composer Toussaint St. Negritude conjures whole liberations in full tempo. US Poet Laureate Gwendolyn Brooks described his work as “full of sweet sounds and surprises.” Originally from San Francisco, Toussaint has lived and broadly thrived across the African Diaspora, from the sacred mountains of Haiti, to the Coltrane District of North Philadelphia. He, along with bassist Gahlord Dewald, is the leader of the band Jaguar Stereo!, a free-form ensemble of his own poetry and improvisational jazz, and his works have been widely published and recorded for over 40 years. On an alpine sanctuary facing east, Toussaint St. Negritude continues to thrive in the farthest elevations of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.

Martha Israel | Nurse

Martha was a school nurse in Central VT for 23 years until moving to the coast of Maine in 2019. During the Covid pandemic she worked for the Maine Dept. of Education helping schools manage their infections. Martha is also a psychiatric nurse and works remotely for the VT Department of Mental Health. She has been involved with the Governors Institute for over 15 years and loves working at GIA because it is two fantastic weeks of art, music, theater, dance – and really happy, creative students and staff!

Coco Shah | Mental Health Counselor

Bio coming soon!

Stefan Billups | Tech

Bio coming soon!

Emily Billado | Community Manager

Emily C. Billado’s entire personality is based on her love of three things: art, warm beverages, and Vermont. Born and raised in Castleton, she left for the big city (Washington D.C.) for 5 years, but she eventually had to follow the call of New England’s mountains and relocated closer to home in Western Massachusetts. With a background in musical theatre, costume design, and art history, she loves to take an interdisciplinary approach to art and loves the challenge of a new medium. By day, she works as the project manager and marketing coordinator for a Vermont-based skincare company. But when she isn’t working, she can be found exploring museums, taking deep breaths of fresh air, making music, making herself laugh, sewing, researching niche historical topics, and generally frolicking. She was first introduced to the magic of GIA as a student in 2011 and always considers it the highlight of her year to spend time learning from and being inspired by our amazing young artists.

Sam Abrams | RA

Sam returns to GIA as a seventh year RA! A GIA participant herself in 2010, Sam was a student at The Sharon Academy where she participated regularly in the performing arts, especially theatre. She was a member of the Get Thee to the Funnery summer Shakespeare ensemble in Chelsea for many a moon! She went on to attend Beloit College in Wisconsin, where she expanded upon her experience with sketch comedy, writing for performance, dance, a capella, poetry, and more! In addition to being a fan of the arts and community building, Sam is also a globetrotter, having lived in five states and three countries. She has lived in Chicago, IL for a little over two years now, and spent her time back in the states attending a TON of concerts and music shows! Sam loves building relationships, coaching others and leading with empathy, which she does every day (in Spanish!) as a Customer Support Team Lead for a multinational tech company. She cannot wait to meet and grow with this year’s fabulous artists!

Gabe Bango | RA

Gabe is a music producer, composer, and drummer currently based in Burlington, VT. He grew up in Woodstock, Vermont where he was introduced to music production and recording by his high school band instructor. After graduating high school he went on to study Music Business and Technology as well as Spanish at the University of Vermont. At UVM he continued producing and recording music, collaborating with other students, and playing drums in his band, Armanodillo. Having just graduated college, he is eager to make his way into the professional world of music, community building, and education. In his free time Gabe loves to play chess, soccer, tennis, and snowboard!

Lily Feinson | RA

Currently located in KCMO, Lily is a creator, activist, and GIA alum who can’t wait to come back as an RA for the fourth time! They love exploring new art styles, but their favorites are embroidery, tap dancing, and painting. Lily is currently working on their masters at the Columbia University School of Social Work. They love to spend their days making cakes for their friends, going to local queer community events, using public transportation, watching scary movies, and searching for the best iced latte in Kansas City, all in the company of their incredible dog, Zucchini.

Casey Greenleaf | RA

Casey is a musician, community organizer, fiber artist, writer, bicyclist, theatre-kid, doodler, and all around people-person! Originally from Brattleboro, she now lives and works in Burlington, Vermont. She works full time in community building at the global arts organization CreativeMornings.

Robyn Hemlock | RA

Robyn is an artist, teacher, and community organizer based in Troy, NY. After attending GIA in 2015, they found a true love to pursue a career in the arts. They graduated with a BFA in oil painting from the University of New York in New Paltz, and explore the surrealist and darkly humorous with themes of selfhood and consumption in their work. Now, they work in a collective of artists to bring a love of art and community to the Hudson Valley. In their free time, Robyn can be found rock climbing, roller skating, knitting, making jewelry, and spending time with their friends and family. They cannot wait to return to Vermont to meet the emerging young artists and cultivate the passion they found at GIA.

Evan Jenkins | RA

Evan hails from Alexandria, VA, and now lives in the nation’s capital of Washington, D.C. Coming from a background of photography including advertising, portraiture, and photojournalism, he loves blending creative images with informational context or to raise audience awareness. When not with a camera he can be found on the ultimate frisbee field, marking new restaurants off his list, or following esports tournaments (NA Team Liquid & EU Fnatic are his favorite teams right now.) He enjoys embracing new technologies like AI, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality and dabbles in coding as needed for creative endeavors. Evan is currently working at Visit Alexandria doing Digital Content with a focus on running and maintaining their website.

Brittney Malik | RA

Brittney comes to you from Burlington, VT. As a performing artist, she found her love of creation and exploration as a GIA student in 2014. She studied Theater at Northern Vermont University – Johnson, where she focused on Acting and Directing. During that time, she found a love for fusing artistic expression with activism and self-awareness. She currently works with a non-profit production company called Grimm’s Domain, where they create spaces for QTBIPOC and disabled performers and artists to explore their crafts in safe community spaces. As of late, when not auditioning, performing or producing shows, she can be found making music in her duo group B.O.K., streaming online, and playing in a field with her dog Nova. She truly enjoys the conversations and connections to be made when sharing and creating art with her peers and she is excited to get the chance to do that with you all at GIA this summer!

Ellett Merriman | RA

Ellett is a classic wild card who can do a bit of everything when it comes to the arts. She’s a double degree Pre-Dental student at the University of Vermont working towards a BS in psychological science, and a BA in Dance. She is often found in the dance studios working on an array of styles ranging from contemporary/modern, traditional Chinese dance styles, and Bollywood. She loves to choreograph, compose, write, and film as ways to express her view of the world to others. She grew up in central Vermont and attended GIA in 2018. She constantly has some sort of glitter on and is always open to chatting, snacking, hanging out, or napping. She is an extremely hard worker and no matter what, will get things done despite the procrastination. Ellett believes in adding a bit of creativity to whatever you’re doing no matter the subject throughout her educational career. Thus she is excited for her first year as an RA with GIA!

Cas Pryer | RA

Cas is a community-oriented creative, writer, and photographer drawn to the absurd, the human, and the magic in-between. Since graduating from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in Film & TV Production and Screenwriting, she has worked on film and tv sets in costume and art, and as a grassroots canvasser on campaigns to decentralize car infrastructure and create more sustainable housing in Los Angeles, her current home. She is passionate about body justice, context, random objects on the street, and her community and strives to create spaces and art that encourage us to pay heed to the details and lean into wonder. Having grown up in the Green Mountain State, she’s got nature in her bones and takes care to be a steward of the land even in the concrete jungle. When not on a film set she can be found reading poetry, head banging at a local show, attempting to make her friends (read: herself) laugh, spending all her money on point-and-shoot film, or at her local park with her feet in the stream. She is a 2016 GIA alum and returning to the institute as an RA fulfills a long time dream of hers – she can’t wait to reconnect with the community and cultivate hope in Vermont’s young artists.

Iara Rogers Benchoam | RA

Iara Rogers Benchoam (she/they) is in her creatrix era. She has worked on over 50 professional film and theatre productions and currently is on the Art Department team at the GALA Hispanic Theatre in Washington, D.C. Iara graduated with a B.S. in Television, Radio, and Film from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. She is stoked to join GIA and continue her mission of empowering youth to seek out their most authentic and vibrant lives. She is currently developing her debut album and screenplay about transforming a dark mental world into a light one.

Aja Selbach-Broad | RA

Aja is a filmmaker currently living and working in Atlanta, Georgia. After growing up in the woods of Southern VT and attending GIA as a student many moons ago; Aja followed his passion for filmmaking to Syracuse University where he received a BFA in Film, and to FAMU international in Prague in the Czech Republic where he studied 35mm. Between smaller and more personal artistic endeavors, Aja works full time as a set lighting technician on feature films; from tasteless comedies for streamers, to indie award show darlings, to big marvel blockbusters. After finishing principal photography on Black Panther 2 in 2022, Aja moved on to his first ever self-produced feature film that was shot right here in Vermont in the fall, alongside many artistic collaborators from GIA and beyond. Aside from trying to avoid burnout on Captain America 4 and a yet to be released SNL Biopic all last year; he also loves to watch movies of any kind (ideally on the big screen), binge-read fantasy and sci-fi, listen to music that sounds like breaking machinery, ride his onewheel and have a nice cup of PG tips English tea. He truly cannot wait to spend the summer returning to his roots and helping to try and pass on the artistic passion to young artists in his home state of VT.

Kaelan Selbach-Broad | RA

Kaelan Selbach is a filmmaker currently living and working in Brooklyn, New York. After Growing up in the woods of Southern VT and attending GIA as a student many moons ago; Kaelan followed his passion for filmmaking to Syracuse University where he received a BFA in Film, and to FAMU international in Prague in the Czech Republic where he studied 35mm. Between smaller and more personal artistic endeavors, Kaelan works full time as a set lighting technician on feature films and TV, currently on Law & Order. Aside from his work he also loves to watch movies of any kind, binge read fantasy and sci-fi, listen to music that sounds like breaking machinery, eat donuts and have a nice cup of PG tips English tea. He truly cannot wait to spend the summer returning to his roots and helping to try and pass on the artistic passion to young artists in his home state of VT.

Kolin Shaw | RA

Kolin (he/they) is incredibly stoked to hop on board GIA’s train as a new RA! Kolin is a performing and visual artist and theater educator based in Stowe, Vermont. Since receiving his BA in Theater and Drama from Northern Vermont University in May 2023, he has taken on more artistic endeavors than ever before! Within the last year, Kolin spent a lot of his time performing in theatrical productions, making music in his duo, B.O.K., dancing with a local troupe, and teaching and collaborating with young artists to write and create original works. As a neurodivergent person and member of the LGBTQIA+ community, Kolin is especially passionate about maintaining accessible safe spaces where creative thinking, collaboration, self-care, and unconditional love can nurture artistic and personal growth. He is so honored and delighted to be able to bring his loud laugh and jumbo smile, his challenge-accepted attitude, and a few too many instruments and art supplies to such a space.

Mo Singletary | RA

Mo Singletary is a creator, collaborator, and artist from Boston, Massachusetts. After graduating high school, Mo ventured out of the city to attend Oberlin College in Ohio where they studied Environmental Studies and Africana Studies. They chose this combination of majors because they are particularly passionate about community organizing in relation to environmental & food justice. Mo strongly believes in the power of learning, growing, healing, and creating in community. Although they are interested in all types of artistic & creative endeavors, they are particularly drawn to the potential for healing and liberation that the act of storytelling through art can offer. Mo would describe themselves as a freedom dreamer, avid gardener, and lover of the moon, sun, stars, ocean, and all things green. They find peace and joy in nature, building connections, movement, cloud-watching, cooking, and dreaming up a future that centers community, creativity, healing, mutual-aid work, & Black agrarianism. Mo is so very excited to be a part of the GIA team this summer!

Janice Amaya | Director of Student Life (member of the Radministration)

Janice Amaya (they/them/elle) is an actor, theatermaker, and educator. Recent theater credits: Orlando (Signature Theatre Company), Shhhh (Atlantic Theater Company), Lunch Bunch (Play Co), Mushroom (People’s Light Theater Co), Cartography (John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts), Sally Forth (Lincoln Center), As You Like It (Apocalyptic Artists Ensemble). Film: Patriot’s Day (Lionsgate, Dir. Peter Berg). Janice is a Co-Director at Pipeline Theatre Company and a founding member of The Hummm. MFA, Harvard University and the Moscow Art Theater.

Sarah Lowry | Director of Student Life (member of the Radministration)

Sarah Lowry is a theater maker and Registered Drama Therapist. Lowry works both as an individual and family counselor in South Burlington, as well as in the Winooski Middle and High Schools where she collaborates with educators and students to incorporate trauma-informed, youth driven, creative arts work into curriculum. In the clinic, Lowry uses somatic and creative practices to work with predominantly LGBTQIA+ youth as well as with teens, young adults, and families who have experienced trauma. Both in the counseling room and on the stage – Lowry centers her work on listening to young people and uses storytelling and theater as tools to center the voices and perspectives of teens in Vermont. As a white, Jewish, queer 40-year-old counselor and artist, Lowry brings her own life and experiences into her relationships with young people, and strives to make work that prioritizes the leadership of young people to tell their own stories. She is thrilled to be a part of the GIA community.

Corey Harrower | Institute Director (member of the Radministration)

Corey grew up in a log cabin in the woods of Middlesex, Vermont. After graduating from Wesleyan University he became a professional contemporary dancer, while also mixing in some carpentry, teaching, cooking, arts administration, emergency medicine, conflict resolution, and educational advocacy. He is now the Co-founder and Chief People Officer at Luminary ( and, a music technology company, headquartered in London, UK, where he lives with his wife, Kate, and their daughters, Hazel (7) and Willa (4). He is inspired by the work of, among others, Toni Morrison, Noella Coursaris Musunka, James Baldwin, and Cary Wolfe. He attended GIA in 2000.

Malina Leslie | Director of Operations (member of the Radministration)

Malina Leslie (she/her) is a red-headed giggler who graduated from the University of Vermont with a BA in English and Art. She is a quilter who likes to paint with fabric and draw with thread to portray people in various emotions. She also likes to make comics and worked for cartoonist Alison Bechdel on her comic book “Are You My Mother.” Malina is often found birding because birds are awesome. She has lived for significant chunks of time on four of the seven continents and has gotten really good at decorating envelopes because of it. Originally from Hardwick, Vermont, she attended GIA as a student in 2005 and is always thrilled to return!

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