Peterborough , NH

Contact Name
Rachelle Beaudoin
Project Dates
Yearly, June 11-14 2015
Tags
Event, Networking, Design
The Thing in the Spring is an annual weekend of concerts and art events presented by the Glass Museum in downtown Peterborough NH. During each Thing in the Spring Festival we also present Broke: The Affordable Arts Fair. We work hard to ensure affordable ticket prices and program many free events each year.

We strive to bring renowned independent groups into intimate venues, in combinations that one would be hard pressed to find in any major metropolitan area. The Thing in the Spring involves many local businesses as sponsors and supporters, and venues all over town have hosted its performances.

The Thing in the Spring and Broke: The Affordable Art Fair come together on one weekend every year to give a small New England town a shot of adrenaline it needs after a long winter.
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 Thing in the Spring and coordinated events like Broke attract a youthful crowd to Peterborough that in turn spends money locally and stays locally. Using our strengths in music and art, we have given countless hours to the creation and successful implementation of large-scale public events that not only bring business to town but also support our town’s cultural identity. The challenge of living in rural New Hampshire in your 20s and early 30s is finding a peer group and finding activities to participate in outside of work. We plan events that attract a younger audience but are not limited or restricted by age but more importantly, through our efforts, we strive to build a community. “We take the ‘ugh’ out of Peterborough.” We use a Do-It-Yourself approach to make events and projects happen. Instead of waiting for someone else to start something and instead of complaining about a lack of activities for young people and artists, we have been proactive and started these events with the support of local businesses.
The goals of the events are:
-Curate interesting and diverse acts at affordable prices
-Create events for young and old to enjoy
-Bring visitors to town to stay and spend locally
-Program free events
-Combine music and visual art
If the goals change over time, please describe how:
As we approach our 8th year of the event, the goals have changed little over time. We are still dedicated to bringing diverse and interesting performers to town and keeping ticket prices low. As the project has continued we set goals for slow and steady growth including adding a second venue for Broke. In the first year, we were concerned with creating something we would want to attend however, we now see the festival as a larger community-wide event and program events for the whole community.
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):
Each year the Thing in the Spring collaborates with many local businesses and other non-profits to create an event that brings people downtown. Partners include, The Toadstool Bookshop, Harlow’s Pub, The Waterhouse Restaurant, The Monadnock Center for History and Culture, Sharon Arts Center, The Universalist Unitarian Church, RJ Finlay and the Town of Peterborough. Each of these partners has collaborated with us on unique events in town.
Sponsors include, The Mountain Corporation, Joseph’s Coat, Brewbakers, The Jack Daniels Inn, The Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, Sterling Business Print and many more. Sponsors believe strongly that our event is worthwhile for their businesses and for the town in general. Their support allows us to keep ticket prices low and to keep the schedule jam-packed.
How does this project relate to a larger community development strategy?
The Thing in the Spring relates closely to Peterborough’s identity as a cultural hub for arts and music. As stated an update to the town Master Plan in 2011“Community leaders have asserted the importance of branding in the promotion of the Peterborough region as a destination for cultural tourism.” The towns most recent Visioning Session yielded similar results. The update to the Master Plan in 2011 also “noted the importance of cooperative action within the local arts community, and ultimately on the potential role of the arts to promote Peterborough as a destination.” (Webb, Report 2013)
Our goal is to bring people to the area for the festival, to hear music, see art and to eat, shop and stay locally. This fits with the greater community goal of maintaining and growing our local identity as an arts destination.
What projects or places, if any, inspired your approach to this creative economy project?
We are interested in the creative presentation of concerts. We are inspired by larger festivals and historical events including Woodstock, Filmore (East and West) and the idea of the concert promoter as curator not a businessperson. Broke:The Affordable Arts Fair was inspired by The Renegade Craft Fair, the documentary Handmade Nation, DIY music/posters/zines and Twist Art Fairs in Northampton, MA.
Project Specifics
Please list the steps taken to implement the project:
This was started as and still is a DIY event with two of the co-founders, Eric Gagne and Mary Goldthwaite-Gagne organizing and managing the events with volunteers from the community.

In order to produce Broke:The Affordable Arts Fair, we put out a call 3-4 months in advance with artist applications due one month before the event. Artists submit an online application and portfolio of work, which is then juried by a team of 3-5 people. The selected artists are notified and must agree to sell their work for $50 and under. Table fees are lower than similar fairs and start $35. This fall we had over 80 applicants and selected 52 artists. The Glass Museum then promotes the event using state and local media along with social media blitzes.

Planning for the Thing in the Spring begins over a year in advance by contacting bands, booking agents and venues. The line up develops throughout the year based on availability but also on the combination of artists selected. Because we strive to curate stellar pairings of performers we often seek specific bands to compliment bands who have already signed on for the festival. In order to keep the ticket prices low, we hold fundraising events but rely heavily on local sponsors. We meet, recruit, and talk about the show with local sponsors leading up to the event. Venues are rented and secured and sound/production staff is hired. 5-6 months before the festival the line-up is announced and weekend passes go on sale. Tickets are presold and sold at the events.

When the weekend arrives, the music is non-stop. Many volunteers help setup and take down shows and the bands themselves play a large role is making the event a success. Last year’s packed schedule demonstrates the energy of the weekend and the variety of events:

Thursday @The Toadstool Bookstore
Free: Predoors Set Dust from 1000 Years
Show: $10- Magik Markers, Bad History Month, Suicide Magnets
Free: @ the Waterhouse: Pine Grove
Show: $8 @Harlows Ol Factory, Will Kindler
Free: Outside the Toadstool, Dave Seidel

Friday:
@Town Hall
Free: Predoors Set- Orion Rigel Dommisse
Show: $15- Lady Lamb the Bee Keeper, Bill Orcutt & Chris Corsano, Dredd Foole & Ed Yazijian
Free: Art Opening-@ Launch Art Shaina Gates
Free: Art Opening @ Sharon Arts, Chad Creighton
Show: $8 @Harlows, Rough Francis & State Champion
Free @The Waterhouse- Sci Funk
Free @ Town Hall: Late Movie: Criterion Collection Presents-The Seventh Seal

Saturday:
Free: Broke the Affordable Arts Fair
Show: Behind Town Hall $10 MV & EE, Pile, Bungalows, Paper Castles, Liv Carrow, Wren and Mary, Cloud Watchers, Bunny’s A Swine, Christine Hayward
Free: Predoors set: Yazan
Show: $15 @Town Hall- Simone Felice, Death Vessel, Mail the Horse
Free: @ the Toadstool: Poetry readings by Sy Montgomery, Eliot Shrefer
Free: @the Waterhouse DJ Disco Phantom
Show @ Harlows $8 Major Stars
FreeL @ Town Hall: Late Movie: Criterion Collection Presents Seven Samurai

Sunday:
Free: Predoor set Fountainsun
Show @ Town Hall $15 Charlie Hunter & Bobby Previte, Nat Baldwin, David Kontak Ensemble

With this many events, bands and venues, it the planning of the weekend is the most important factor and most time consuming aspect of the production.
If the project steps changed over time, please describe how:
As the organization formalized and recruited a board, then became a non-profit, the board has shared some duties and various sub-committees have formed to help with specific areas of planning, promotion, fundraising etc. In the first years of the festival, Mary, Eric and co-founder Ryan Wilson took on all of the planning, promotion and execution themselves.
As the festival grows and bands, artists and community members are more familiar with it and its presence, applications for Broke have increased and bands now contact us inquiring about the joining the bill. As we produce this year after year, we have learned from our successes and mistakes. We carefully consider what events were well attended and those that were not and then plan accordingly the following year.
Obstacles
What were your major obstacles for the completion of the project?
The obstacles differ from year to year and in the past have included a venues being double booked and weather disrupting outdoor events. One obstacle that affects the whole town is the lack of hotel rooms and places for people to stay. The most significant issue we have is consistent ticket sales and promotion. The sales are highly correlated to the lineup and past performers we thought would do well, including well known jazz artists, did not sell as well as expected. When choosing the artists, we seek to grow our audience, engage different ages of viewers and invite people to hear new music. Getting people to a show when they are not familiar with the performers has proven to be a difficult task.
Who or what was instrumental in overcoming these obstacles?
In order to be consistent in ticket sales, we have focused on putting together interesting events with a variety of performers. Although introducing the audience to new artists is important, we are balancing the new or less familiar artists with those who already have a larger fan base. Promotion of the events is always a challenge and we have reached out to different outlets, used social media and worked to keep the story fresh so that local media coverage continues year after year.
What top three suggestions would you give to others attempting a similar project?
1. Get help!
2. Start small.
3. Start planning as early as possible.
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?
This festival is a part of the cultural landscape of Peterborough that residents and non-residents have come to expect. The free shows, the art interventions, the quality and affordability of products at Broke are making Peterborough a destination for the younger generation.
These events build a sense of community among the younger citizens of the town by brining people out and making social connections. The festival gives people a sense that there is something to do here. Over the past 7 years, The Thing in the Spring has brought thousands of people to Peterborough’s downtown.
Economically, both events generate a great deal of income both for the vendors and for Peterborough area businesses.
Vendors at the most recent Broke Arts Fair held in November reported an average sales of $460 which totals over $24,000 in revenue for the 6 hour period. This is just the Arts Fair alone. The meals, gas, hotel rooms, shopping and other revenue for the downtown and surrounding area is harder to estimate but it is clear that the event is a microburst to the region’s economy.
Why do you consider the project successful, as related to your project goals above?
This event continues to be a success year after year due to our commitment to our goals. We continue to curate a diverse group of performers and present quality and affordable art in a small town setting. We experiment with new venues, themes and collaborations to keep the festival fresh and exciting. Each year, the energy grows and more visitors come to Peterborough for the weekend.
How did you measure this success or progress?
The success of the event can be measured in terms of economics- i.e. ticket sales, artist sales at Broke but those numbers are only part of the overall measure of success. The numbers are measured through a survey for vendors and ticket sales.
Other less tangible success markers are garnered through word-of-mouth, comments from visitors, conversations with bands.
Please describe any unexpected impacts:
Due to our thoughtful and unusual pairings, many people meet and bands form relationships and start new ventures and groups. One artist who played our recent concerts is now embarking on a Sugar House town with our co-founder Eric Gagne. So in this way, the festival sends out ripples and impacts communities outside of Peterborough. When they play a show at Sugarhouse in VT, that brings in a new audience to that unexpected pop-up music venue all due to the first connection at the Thing in the Spring. Similarly, an artist selling at Broke was invited to have a solo show in Dover, expanding the event beyond the borders of our town into other areas where the sale of her work now benefits both the artist, the gallery and brings people to Dover for the opening and to view the show.