Business Quarterly: Sponsors and donors make summer concerts go

  • Compaq Big Band performs on Jaffrey Common. —COURTESY PHOTO BY TEAM JAFFREY

  • An audience at one of Jaffrey’s Concerts on the Common. —COURTESY PHOTO BY TEAM JAFFREY

  • Glenn Kelly Band perfors at the Old Meeting House in Francestown. COURTESY PHOTO BY JONI LOHR

  • Lonesome Train performis during Francestown’s Sundays at 4 concert series. —COURTESY PHOTO BY JONI LOHR

  • Blame it on Sally performs at Depot Park in Peterborough —STAFF PHOTO BY ORIANA CAMARA

For the Ledger-Transcript
Published: 7/25/2023 10:20:32 AM

Live concerts provide an opportunity for audiences to converse, relax, listen and dance, but organizers need funding to make them work.

Peterborough’s Friday Summertime Concerts began just over a decade ago when Pelagia Vincent and George Neal, the owner of Twelve Pine, discussed bringing music to downtown.

“I had been frustrated for years about the fact that there was no summertime music in Peterborough,” Vincent stated. “At the same time, George Neal was looking for a way to give back to the community that supports his business.”

Through this conversation and partnership, the program was born.

“We began with a few sponsors, Twelve Pine, Depot Square and Bellows-Nichols Insurance, a small budget (brought in a lot of friends and lots of begging) and a handful of concerts,” Vincent stated. “Over the next 10 years, I have been able to increase the number of sponsors through the incredible generosity from the regional businesses. I am honored that so many organizations have signed up and support this beloved community event. All the funding comes from the sponsors and in turn goes directly to the bands/musicians with a small portion to the graphic designer and printer who have been working with me for 11 years.

With additional future funding, Vincent stated she will be able to continue hiring talented musicians.

“From the beginning, the event has brought residents from the area and beyond, to downtown Peterborough,” she stated. “This naturally brings business to the area restaurants, bars, before and after the concerts. It is not unusual to see out-of-towners come early to check out the shops, museums etc. then take out food to enjoy during the concert or meet up with friends and grab dinner after the concert.”

To Vincent, the series’ success is reflected in growth of the audience. When Soggy Po Boys performed on July 7, Depot Park was packed.

“The footbridge was full with standing room only and people were dancing on the bridge!” Vincent stated. “Many people make a point of bringing visitors and family to the concerts, making it a memorable summer night.”

Francestown hosts Sunday concerts

The Old Meeting House hosts Francestown’s Sundays at 4 concert series, which meetinghouse board president Gary Schnakenberg stated grew out of the pandemic.

“The building had always been used as a venue for music performances. In 2020 however, the pandemic’s decline led us to offer a couple of shows outdoors at the end of summer and early fall. The program had been shuttered for the prior year,’ he stated.

According to Schnakenberg, the reaction to the outdoor shows was very positive, so in 2021, then-board member Marcy Tripp Graham and a program committee put together a schedules featuring activities Sunday from mid-May to mid-September – a musical performance, a village history walk, an art tour, a dem0nstration by the Fire Department.

“The aim was to put us on the map as folks started to emerge from the pandemic mindset, and it worked,” he stated. “Since that highly ambitious and successful season, we have scaled back to a much more manageable season (necessary for an all-volunteer board), consisting of Sundays in July and August.”

The series features local acts, regional New England acts, performers from Boston and acts from across the country. It also provides a place for people to come together, use the Old Meeting House and give artists a venue to perform and be compensated.

“We measure success in very simple terms – if people enjoy themselves, it’s successful!” Schnakenberg stated. “We like to see as many people as possible come to the events of course, but more important is the quality of the experience for both artist and audience (even if they are relatively few). Our goal is to have people in the town, in the Monadnock region, and beyond come together and enjoy this beautiful building.”

The concert series had originally been funded by the organization’s own funds and ticket sales, which at the time cost $15 per adult. The transition to making the concerts free occurred after the board felt the admission fee made the event inaccessible to some residents.

“We decided to use our own funds and offered free admission to our holiday concert in December, and afterwards decided to try to move forward with that for the upcoming summer season. Fortunately, a substantial donation from an anonymous donor made that much easier!” Schnakenberg stated. “We want to both offer a variety of enjoyable programs for the community, and compensate our performers fairly. This donation allowed us to thread that needle.

Jaffrey offers Concerts on the Common

TEAM Jaffrey’s Concerts on the Common has been a tradition in Jaffrey since the bandstand was built in 1880. Although the bandstand has had many uses, it was often used as a location for the community to gather on summer nights to listen to live and local music.

This year, TEAM Jaffrey received a full-music sponsorship from Monadnock Disposal Services, enabling them to book local talent throughout July and August. Musical groups include Skip Philbrick Blues Band, Sheep Dip, Compaq Big Band, The Reel McCoys, Northern Stone, The Tom Foolery Band and Whitney Doucet.

“The concerts are almost always funded by grants and community sponsorship. Our local businesses are always the first to support community gatherings. Many are repeated sponsors of our events,” TEAM Jaffrey Executive Director Tarah Castiglioni stated.

According to Castiglioni, the concerts attract people from town, but also those who are vacationing within the region. Concerts also include concessions, fresh popcorn and free child-friendly crafts. TEAM Jaffrey measures the success of their events by the excitement the community brings to each concert. When they are able to watch people gather and enjoy the friendly atmosphere that concerts provide, they deem the event successful.

“Each season sees generations of families attend as the concerts have been a wonderful tradition and a staple of Jaffrey summers for so many years!” Castiglioni stated.

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