Monadnock Region, NH

Contact Name
Jessica Gelter
Project Dates
Workshop Leader
Creative Communities Exchange (CCX) 2015
Discover Monadnock promotes the Monadnock Region: its cultural events and resources, its hospitality, its businesses, its natural environment, and its economic development opportunities. A group that includes the Monadnock Travel Council, Arts Alive, Chambers of Commerce, local media, and cultural and educational institutions has brought into being as a marketing tool of the Discover Monadnock brand.
Project Goals
What were the specific goals of this creative economy project? Describe the community development challenge or opportunity that your project was designed to address:
The goal of this initiative is to promote, sustain and grow arts and culture travel and tourism to the Monadnock region in order to bring economic growth and jobs to the area and to build audiences and participants in arts, culture and creative endeavors.
If the goals change over time, please describe how:
The partnerships we developed drove the specificity of the goals and the strategies used to attain those goals, but overall, we stayed true to our original intentions of promoting the region via arts & culture assets.
Who was involved in this project and what did they do? (be sure to include the partners from outside of the creative sector and how local voices were included):
The Discover Monadnock Committee, chaired by Arts Alive, has had many members through the years representing various organizations: Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce, Monadnock Travel Council, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, Monadnock Center for History and Culture, The Park Theatre, The Redfern Arts Center, Yankee Magazine, Cathedral of the Pines. The group began meeting in 2009 to guide the maintenance, growth, financing, and marketing initiatives of the collaboration.
The Discover Monadnock website was developed and publicly released in 2014. Since the website release, the committee has divided into two groups. One continues oversight on the Discover Monadnock web & social media project, the other is focused on developing a regional brand that can be used by Discover Monadnock and its partners to unify current messaging around regional brand identity.
Current Discover Monadnock Committee Members and Monadnock Regional Branding Committee Members include:
Jessica Gelter, Executive Director of Arts Alive
Shannon Mayers, Director, Redfern Arts Center
Jamie Trowbridge, CEO, Yankee Publishing
Caroline Hollister, Board Chair, The Park Theatre
Pelagia Vincent, Hospitality Consultant
Carl Jacobs, City Counselor, Keene, NH
Gordon Peery, Board Chair, Monadnock Center for History and Culture
Phil Suter, Director, Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce
Gretchen Ziegler, Cathedral of the Pines & Monadnock Travel Council
Jim Narkewicz, Manager, Holiday Inn & Monadnock Travel Council
Jarvis Coffin, Owner, Hancock Inn
Joe Walker, Teacher, Contoocook Valley Regional High School & Secretary, Monadnock Travel Council
Sean Ryan, Director, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce & President, Monadnock Travel Council
Trim Hahn, Marketing Director, Hillsborough Chamber of Commerce
Melanie MacDonald, Executive Director, TEAM Jaffrey
How does this project relate to a larger community development strategy?
Arts Alive was founded in 2009 by a large group of community partners in order to form collaborations between regional arts organizations and to promote and leverage the regional arts scene. Arts Alive funded an Economic Impact Study on the region’s arts sector to demonstrate the importance of the Arts to the region’s economy. This study showed that arts & culture organizations contributed over $13 million to the local economy, and leveraged an additional $3.5 million in indirect spending. State-funded economic development in New Hampshire has been focused exclusively on attracting business to the region. Looking at arts/culture as the identity for the region is a thread that ties everything together.
What projects or places, if any, inspired your approach to this creative economy project?
The Discover Monadnock Committee was driven by the absence of any region-wide marketing of the Monadnock Region as a destination. Other destinations have a regional brand and marketing strategy; this project is a move in that direction. As for using the arts as a primary attraction, the Berkshires (Massachusetts) is a great example of a destination that has done that effectively.
Project Specifics
Please list the steps taken to implement the project:
We took four major steps to implement this project:
1. Develop partnerships with other organizations and businesses seeking to increase travel and tourism to the area, in order to expand the reach of Arts Alive and its unique mission
2. Create and implement a marketing strategy, in conjunction with regional and State partners, to maximize new audiences and participants in regional arts and cultural activities.
3. Obtain collaborative support from regional arts and cultural entities in order to ensure full participation in marketing and cultural tourism initiatives
4. Identify and implement a system of metrics in order to benchmark achievements in attracting new resources to the area.
If the project steps changed over time, please describe how:
The definitions of our partnerships have been refined over time so that Arts Alive has taken the lead on the project, and other partners are now involved in decision-making as an advisory committee.
This past fall, the committee narrowed its focus to a web-based marketing strategy. We believe that if we put our focus into doing one thing well, we will have a strong cornerstone to base future developments into other media.
What were your major obstacles for the completion of the project?
Although non-profit arts organizations in the region have been collaborating for some time with Arts Alive, it was and still is critical to get broader acceptance and support from other institutions before we could move ahead with the project. Marketers’ budgets are committed first to their primary objectives; marketing the collective will always be secondary.
Who or what was instrumental in overcoming these obstacles?
The members of the committee planning the project were persistent. They met for three years before taking concrete action to start the website. In the end, it was the availability and willingness of one committee member to step into the role of website and content developer that allowed the project to move forward.
What top three suggestions would you give to others attempting a similar project?
1. Have a good facilitator that can keep the project moving forward with actionable steps coming out of each meeting.
2. Allow buy-in on various levels - not everyone can commit to meeting monthly, but having a voice in branding regional identity is important to most people who live and work in that region. Surveys, community meetings, focus groups, and updates are all important to engage the larger community.
3. Be open to change. Non-profit partnerships are tricky. There will always be board turn-over and strategic plan re-alignment. Be flexible and don't take changes in partnerships as a de-valuation of the work that has been completed. That said, have data and case statements ready to fight for continued partnerships.
Project Impact
How has this project strategically connected arts and cultural activities to social, economic, and cultural issues in your community? What is different in your community as a result of this project?
The Arts community in the Monadnock Region has been strong for generations. Since the founding of Arts Alive, that community has come together in a unified way. This project has helped other community members and institutions understand the importance of the arts to the region. It is especially notable that business leaders have accepted that the arts in the region help them to attract and retain employees.
Why do you consider the project successful, as related to your project goals above?
This project is ongoing, and evaluation is ongoing. Currently we can report that exposure to the Monadnock region and Discover Monadnock brand has increased nationally and internationally through website visits and social media engagement. Our next step in evaluation is to work with partners to determine if there is a direct impact on the following:
1. A positive impact on attendance at arts events
2. A positive impact on lodging and restaurant sales
3. An increased success rate in resident recruitment (new employees, businesses, students, etc.)
How did you measure this success or progress?
We measure our current success in the following ways:
1. Number of partners guiding the project, and number of sectors represented
2. Number of arts organizations sharing content on the website
3. Social Media engagement
4. Website visits
Please describe any unexpected impacts:
After we lost our initial financial partner, we sought new partners. The website has become of interest to the HR departments of the major employers of our region. They believe the values, uniqueness, and culture of the region helps them recruit new employees, and they are using the website to do so.
CCX Workshop Handout