Peterborough Arts Center Assessment

Peterborough, NH

Contact Name
Pete Throop
Project Dates
Workshop Leader
Creative Communities Exchange (CCX) 2015
Business Planning, Networking
Originally approached as a public/private partnership to retrofit an old armory building into a new arts and culture center, this NEA grant funded project took on a new form, direction, and focus as it progressed. The end result was a arts assessment, conducted by Webb Management of NYC, which helped the partnership and community understand whether a new arts center was viable, had community support, and whether it could be financially sustainable. The assessment also helped to spawn new arts and technology centered collaborations; and, paved the way toward the town securing additional grant funding to study enhancing existing spaces for the purpose of expanding the arts in Peterborough.
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 arts assessment was designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the need, community support/desirability, and financial sustainability of an arts center in Peterborough.
If the goals change over time, please describe how:
Originally conceived as an idea to retrofit an existing armory building into a new arts & culture center for people of all ages to participate in artistic endeavors, the NEA grant was eventually used to fund an "arts assessment". This change in direction took substantial public/private leadership and networking to sell to the public and the existing arts community on the need for sound planning principles. In short, the town lacked a solid understanding of the need, desirability, and financial sustainability required to make sound decisions relative to the allocation of and priority of funding. The Town of Peterborough played a critical role in providing the leadership and networking needed to help prioritize grant funding and move the involved groups toward a common and collective set of goals.
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):
Town of Peterborough - Planning, Administration, and DPW Staff
Dedicated Arts Steering Committee - Citizens interested in the expansion of the arts
Monadnock Art X Tech - A "maker-space" group that spawned from the arts assessment recommendations
How does this project relate to a larger community development strategy?
Understanding its rich history of nurturing and supporting arts and culture, the parties affiliated with this project understand that the long-term success of the town depends on finding new and inventive ways to continue progressing this established identity. Knowing our demographics and the wants, needs, and desires of our community.
What projects or places, if any, inspired your approach to this creative economy project?
The initial narrow focus on the expansion of the old Peterborough Armory illuminated the necessity of funding a planning/assessment document designed to understand need, desirability, and financial sustainability.
Project Specifics
Please list the steps taken to implement the project:
Individuals approached the town wanting to apply for the NEA grant to retrofit the armory. Under the towns leadership and networking, the larger arts community was included in the process by way of a steering committee. The result was the arts assessment focused on the goals previously listed above. Having completed the assessment, a number of specific recommendations flowed from the analysis, including; endorsing/expanding existing buildings, partnering with the local school, and developing an arts/technology teaching/outreach center.

One specific building recommended for expansion was the Peterborough Town House (the official town municipal office), specifically the building's upper-hall. The town was recently awarded additional grant funding, via LCHIP, to complete a historic building assessment of the town hall, which will serve as a roadmap to expanding/enhancing the space to make it a more attractive and functional performance hall.

The recommendation regarding the formation of a tech/art center was instrumental in guiding the formation of an official maker-space collaborative; The Monadnock Art X Tech Group. This group is actively working with town officials, local artisans, and the wider community to bring a maker-space facility to Peterborough.
If the project steps changed over time, please describe how:
What were your major obstacles for the completion of the project?
Convincing the public and the arts community that an assessment was necessary, as opposed to a specific focus on a predetermined site.
Who or what was instrumental in overcoming these obstacles?
- Peterborough DPW & Planning
- Arts Steering Committee
- Arts/culture community & stakeholders
What top three suggestions would you give to others attempting a similar project?
Do your homework before determining the answer.

1) Is it needed
2) Is it supported
3) Is it financially sustainable
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?
One of the recommendations of the arts assessment was the formation of a dedicated maker-space group. This group is now in existence doing exciting work in our community!
Why do you consider the project successful, as related to your project goals above?
Aside from developing a detailed arts assessment to provide the fact-finding information our community needed, we have also been successful in leveraging this project to obtain additional grant funding and the formation of a maker-space group.
How did you measure this success or progress?
Additional grant funding & maker-space group.
Please describe any unexpected impacts:
The process has proved to be very time consuming. At times, coordinating so many moving parts was difficult as well.
CCX Workshop Handout

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