What’s an arts market?
Arts and crafts shopping outside
By Heidi Masek firstname.lastname@example.org
Katy Brown thinks Concord needs an arts market. It seems like a simple enough concept. Bring in some artists and artisans to sell their wares weekly, similar to a farmers’ market.
Brown started creating handbags as muchacha K about four years after she “retired” from theatrical pursuits, she said. (Her undergraduate degree is in theater and anthropology.) Brown said she enjoys the three-dimensional design aspect of handbags. She sells her wares at arts markets across the region, including New York and most recently Somerville, Mass.
Brown has a sewing studio at 88 North Main St. in Concord. About a year a half ago, she hatched an idea for a Concord Arts Market. Organizing one was slow-going, so instead she opened a shop in her studio called Speakeasy, representing work from about 15 other regional artists.
Now it looks like the Concord Arts Market is much closer to becoming a reality, and Brown has closed Speakeasy to concentrate on the market.
By chance, she ran into state senator Sylvia Larsen, “and it just so happened that she liked the idea.” Larsen put Brown in touch with the state property management office to find state-controlled space in the capital city. “She just really wanted to see it happen. So she did what she could to get me connected to people,” Brown said. Brown needed to figure out permits, find out who owns the space, establish insurance and other details to run an outdoor market.
Brown’s goal is 30 vendors each week — some regulars and some rotating. The Concord Farmers’ Market is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. until noon on Saturdays from June through October, on Capitol Street. The Concord Arts Market will, in theory, overlap that, with a target time frame of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. nearby at 27 North State St., the parking lot of Laconia Savings Bank. It’s owned by the state’s Department of Justice.
Brown and a few interested folks are organizing a fall 2008 preview tentatively set for Sept. 20, 27 and Oct. 4. She needs to confirm a 2009 schedule with the state.
Brown was the market manager for the South End Open Market in Boston for a year, where she “definitely learned about dealing with different personalities,” she says. SOWA averaged 70 to 100 vendors per week. She and one other person were in charge of setup. She discovered the need to try to keep everyone happy when things could get stressful. From the market director, she learned when dealing with city officials or landlords to be polite and persistent, she said.
SOWA (www.southendopenmarket.com) has been going on weekly for about five years in an area that formerly had a rough reputation. The market became a visible community event that “helps give people a different impression of that neighborhood,” Brown said.
Brown also hopes the Concord Arts Market will help stimulate downtown business. Not everyone realizes businesses are staying open on weekends these days in Concord. From her studio window, she said, “I see people walking around on weekends quite a lot, actually now.”
Her father also owns Madeleine’s pastry shop downtown, but that’s not why she’s interested in promoting the district. She knows people looking for weekend happenings and she thinks Concord has a nice downtown area. “I’d like to see more people using it,” she said. She also thinks a market would be another good walking destination.
“I think really the size of downtown is perfect for a walking culture to be cultivated,” she said.
Brown is interested in connecting the market with local visual and performing arts groups. She’s seeking assistance from a small rotating committee of artists, and community members if some are interested, to help choose vendors. “I don’t want the market to be a reflection of what I personally like or don’t like. I want it to be a reflection of what the community wants to see there and what local artists participating want,” Brown said.
Vendors will pay $30 per week for a 10-foot by 10-foot space, and a maximum of two people can share a booth. They will need to provide their own tents and tables.
The official description of the Concord Arts Market makes clear that it’s not a flea market. “We do have a lot of great flea markets in New England. I think that market’s been addressed. I think it’s important to make that distinction,” she said.
Brown doesn’t know if the Concord Art Market vendors will be selling locally made food products. For one thing, she would need to find out about permitting. Also, she doesn’t want to compete with the farmers’ market.
Boston Handmade’s Web site (bostonhandmade.org) includes a blog where vendors post what they are working on. Brown said she’s planning a vendors’ page for www.concordartsmarket.com.
Brown is currently working on a master’s degree in library science, interning at the New Hampshire Supreme Court Law Library, and working as a paralegal while running her muchacha K business.
As for the arts market, Brown said, “The whole point of doing this is to support local artists.”.