The 4 Freedoms Festival draws its inspiration from the June 1941 Atlantic Charter issued by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in which they define four essential human rights: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear. At his home in Arlington, Vermont, legendary artist Norman Rockwell was inspired by their statement. Subsequently, while attending an Arlington Town Meeting, he was once again inspired by the behavior of his neighbors. One local farmer stood and spoke. Everyone at the meeting disagreed, but no one interrupted him. Rockwell saw this as the embodiment of Freedom of Speech. He decided to illustrate “The Four Freedoms” through everyday American scenes with his everyday Vermont neighbors as his subjects.
The four paintings were published by The Saturday Evening Post and went “viral.” In 1943 with the Treasury facing dire times due to war expenditures, the Treasury Department asked Rockwell to go on tour with his paintings and sell war bonds. The tour was so successful it can be cited as a positive factor in changing the course of the war!
Which brings us to 2018 and the 4 Freedoms Festival. The Festival has been conceived to not only remember the original paintings of 75 years ago, but to also celebrate the current relevance of these four essential human rights in the world today. The Festival will be operated by The Mill in Arlington, a meeting place for creation and collaboration of ideas in the arts and humanities. Mountain Media, publishers of Stratton Magazine and Manchester Life, will sponsor the events. The festival schedule spans a period from June 30 to July 22 at various Arlington, Manchester, and Bennington venues. Included are events such as an art exhibit, film screening, street festival, interfaith ceremony and food drive, as well as other family-friendly events.
The highlight of the festival is the presentation of a musical inspired by the life of Norman Rockwell entitled Perfect Picture. Through the talents of a Broadway cast and production team, the life and struggles of Rockwell are brought to the stage. This co-production between Joshua Sherman Productions and The Mill will be presented in Manchester at Southern Vermont Arts Center’s Arkell Pavilion on Friday, July 20th at 7:30 pm and Saturday, July 21st at 3:00 pm and 7:30 pm. Tickets are now available for purchase through the Festival website.