April 13, 2006

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Nashua Publisher's Note: Roommates
By Jeff Rapsis

It’s been an interesting week at Hippo’s downtown Nashua office as we welcome a new venture into our midst: City Arts Nashua.

What is City Arts Nashua? It’s a new city-sponsored organization, less than a year old, that will function as a catalyst for Nashua’s arts community. It began as an outgrowth of last year’s “Conversation on the Arts” meetings, which were convened to pinpoint critical issues in the city’s arts community.

Why are we involved? To be blunt, pure selfishness! Because Hippo’s business depends on covering the region’s diverse arts scene, it’s in our interest to see it flourish.

So when Jay Minkarah, director of the city’s Office of Economic Development, mentioned that the newly hatched City Arts Nashua was looking for a home, we saw an opportunity to step up.
Our downtown Nashua office, at 92 Main St. right above Cameraland, had a room that wasn’t being used. It came with a window (actually, two!) but not much else. So why not make it available to this new organization to help it get off the ground?

Next thing we knew, a woman named Michele Mortensen was moving into the space and getting right to work. Who is Michele? She’s a well-known local arts supporter and activist; her résumé includes work for groups such as Northern Ballet Theater and the Nashua Symphony.

And now she’s the new executive director of City Arts Nashua, which is located (ahem) at 92 Main St., Suite 103, right in Hippo central. To that end, she arrived this Monday, laptop in hand, ready to volunteer her time to the cause.

It won’t be an easy job. The long-term goal for City Arts Nashua is to serve the diverse local arts scene by acting as a clearinghouse for information, promotion, ticket sales and more. But to get there, the group will have to do community outreach to coordinate and leverage the various forms of support that are out there—financial, volunteer and in-kind.

It’s worth it because if we can better harness all the resources out there and channel them more effectively, it all adds up. A vibrant local arts scene is an important part of a community’s ability to thrive in today’s knowledge economy.

So there’s a real possibility that City Arts Nashua will bring substantial benefits to Nashua and the region over the long term. On the other hand, if we fail to make the most of our local arts scene, we will fall behind in a key part of the equation that makes Nashua an attractive place to live and do business in the future.
With that in mind, Hippo welcomes City Arts Nashua into our office and wishes them the best! The group is already making a difference, with several performances scheduled in the Hunt Building during the first Art Walk Nashua event this Saturday, April 15.

For more information, check out www.cityartsnashua.org.

In the meantime, there are other more immediate ways the arts can benefit business. For example, at the Hippo office we’re charging City Arts Nashua $1.50 for every soda from the fridge, and toilet paper is 10 cents a sheet, no refunds.

Just kidding!.


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