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New arts initiative announces summer concerts

April 28, 2021
LITTLETON — Last week, the Littleton Cultural Arts Commission announced its new "Littleton First Friday Arts" program, including three outdoor concerts at the Riverside Commons.

The new First Friday program will occur only during the summer months, but the Commission intends to grow the program over time slowly. The first three events are scheduled from 6 pm to 10 pm on June 4, July 2 and Aug. 6.

All three concerts feature New Hampshire-based performers. Sly Richard takes the stage in June, followed by the Morris Manning Group in July and Donkilo! Afro Funk Orchestra in August. The free outdoor concerts begin at 8 p.m.

For some time, the Commissioners have worked closely with two regional non-profit organizations, Catamount Arts in Saint Johnsbury and Littleton Main Street, Inc. Catamount Arts recently secured grant funding from the Tillotson Fund to purchase a second portable performance stage that will be used exclusively in the North Country.

Catamount Arts Executive Director Jody Fried said, "We are thrilled to be able to expand our support of the region's creative sector. Thanks to funding from the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund, we will be purchasing a second mobile stage to help bring additional vibrancy to rural communities as they work to recover from the pandemic."

The Commission's goal is to foster Littleton's emerging arts scene through an active partnership with downtown businesses. The idea is to attract more people downtown, enrich the regional arts community and provide increased economic activity for participating companies, said Commissioner Jason Tors.

"Right now, we're in the mode of getting the word out. We've got the concerts nailed down, and now we're working on planning, food vendors, businesses and artists," stated Tors.

"We wanted to focus on New Hampshire-based artists in the beginning. It was something that we talked about early on in our discussions. There's a palpable exuberance, especially in this area. I think we're poised to have an awesome summer," he added.

Tors continued, "Because this year is such a different year, I feel like there's a willingness to try new things. Part of the motivation behind all of the First Fridays is to really celebrate our local arts scene. I think it's exploded while everyone was in isolation."

"The pandemic forced people to become resilient in ways they never thought they were before. You go into isolation, you hone your stuff and you come out of it on the other end with the opportunity to try a different approach that feels relevant to the local community," he added.

A brief stint of Second Friday events held in Littleton a few years ago seemed to fizzle out as the evenings wore on, said Tors. He considers the concerts to be "exclamation marks" that ends each evening on a high note.

"A lot of artists and businesses have expressed interest. We're trying to reach out to as many people as possible and get the artists, poets and musicians connected with the local businesses so they create a meaningful exchange," explained Tors.

"If a business stays open later on that one night instead of closing at five, there will be a lot more movement on the street. Hopefully, they'll see an uptick in business. The price for participation is fairly low if you are generous with your time," he added.

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