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 Capital Arts Fest

Where: Downtown Concord
When: Saturday, May 6
Contact: concordnhchamber.com; contact each individual venue or organization for details or prices




Cultural destination
Concord works on rebranding itself with Capital Arts Fest

05/04/17
By Kelly Sennott ksennott@hippopress.com



 When Concord’s Main Street Project was officially completed in November, the city celebrated with small festivities, like street music, speeches and a reception at the Capitol Center for the Arts.

But CCA Executive Director Nicolette Clarke felt it was a little underwhelming, especially when you look at what the new streetscape means for the capital city. Mostly, the mood wasn’t right; the weather was cold, the days were short. People were more concerned with the upcoming holiday season.
“I felt that the refurbishing of Main Street here in Concord was a major undertaking,” Clarke said via phone. “I thought we should invite everybody back in town in the spring, when the flowers would be blooming.”
Clarke brought the idea to Creative Concord, a standing committee in the Concord Chamber of Commerce focused on advancing the creative economy, which is made up of community leaders and cultural organization representatives. Everyone liked the idea.
“One thing that I think has been true about Concord for a long time is that we are rich in cultural organizations, but we’ve never really packaged the community in that way,” Tim Sink, president of the Chamber, said via phone. “The redevelopment of downtown Concord has been a game-changing image improvement for the city.”
In January, they hatched the idea of the Capital Arts Fest, which occurs this Saturday, May 6. 
Almost every cultural organization in Concord is participating — including the Community Players of Concord (who presents Other Desert Cities at the Audi), McGowan Fine Art (who hosts the opening reception for “Color Play” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.), Hatbox  Theatre (who hosts a performance lab and show later that night, The Truth Will Spring Yuh), the New Hampshire Historical Society (who hosts guided tours from 2 to 5 p.m.), the Concord Chorale (who sings Brahms’ Requiem at 7 p.m.), and others.
Clarke said the Cap Center is offering tours and helped hire Squonk Opera to perform “Cycle Sonic” on the Statehouse plaza (which is basically a concert played on stages powered by bicycles in the street). Later that night, it produces a comedy show featuring Juston McKinney.
Some organizations were already planning concerts or art receptions that day. Others messed with their calendars in order to participate, like the Concord Community Music School, which celebrates Capital Arts Fest with a performathon and instrument petting zoo.
“We scheduled our performance to coincide with it on purpose because it seemed so appropriate. Being a community music school, we’re so integrated with the community, it’s hard to imagine not being part of this festival, which I hope continues from year to year,” said Kathryn Southworth, dean of students and faculty at the Concord Community Music School; she estimated that, of the 1,000-plus students, 100 are performing.
It’s not the kind of festival where streets are lined with booths, Clarke said; the goal is for people to walk the new sidewalks, and to see local shops, shows and concerts. 
“I think what was really gratifying was the way all these different organizations came together and, enthusiastically, said, ‘Yeah, we’ll be a part of this!’” Sink said. “We are branding Concord as a cultural destination, and the only way that’s going to happen is if all these cultural organizations work together to that end. If we achieve that, everyone benefits, not just the cultural organizations, but the community at large.” 





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