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Nashua's Vibrant Arts and Culture Scene Boosts Local Quality of Life

By Allison Wilson

Cities across the United States are recognizing that when it comes to attracting and retaining young workers, a community's quality of life is as important as the job market. And having a vibrant cultural scene and thriving arts community is high on the priority list of people considering relocating to any city. City Arts Nashua is an organization that makes sure local residents know about everything the arts and culture scene here has to offer.

"Nashua is a place where public art (murals, sculptures, monuments), are everywhere," says Judith Carlson, Vice President at City Arts Nashua. "There is a wide selection of cultural activities, from our six award-winning theatre companies, to musical performances by Symphony NH and four other classical music organizations, as well as numerous restaurants and bars with live entertainment every weekend. When people see that Nashua has one of the most active public libraries in the state with a wide range of classes, lectures and performances and that there are numerous dance schools, as well as the Nashua Community Music School, the Gate City Charter School for the Arts, and Positive Street Art, an organization that focuses on making street art a positive experience, they realize that Nashua is a hub for arts and culture."

City Arts Nashua has been organizing and producing the annual Art Walk Weekend for 11 years, where approximately 100 artists show and sell their work in downtown venues and the Historic Mill District at a minimal registration cost and with no commissions. The organization provides a wide range of paid entertainment during the weekend at the major venues as a service to help the artistic community earn revenue and gain visibility. Approximately 1,000 visitors come to Art Walk Weekend each year, bringing a flood of business to the downtown shops and restaurants.

City Arts Nashua also organizes the annual Meri Goyette Arts Award Champagne Luncheon, which honors individuals and companies who support the arts, showcases three different local entertainers during the course of the luncheon and raises funds to support arts programs, projects and publicity.

Additionally, the organization is the fiscal sponsor for Nashua's International Sculpture Symposium, a volunteer committee that brings three sculptors from around the world to Nashua to create sculptures that are then gifted to the city. They stay for a month and are housed in local homes and fed by volunteers. Scroll through the three sculptures created at last year's event.

"We are the only City in the U.S. to have a sculpture symposium, which has resulted in about two dozen beautiful works of public art over the years," Carlson says.

City Arts Nashua's Public Art Program recently completed the West Pearl Street mural project, which resulted in a 35-by-40 foot historical mural called "Vivian's Dream," painted by muralist Barbara Andrews, located on the corner of Main and Pearl Streets behind TD Bank. The organization is currently raising funds to restore the Yankee Flyer Diner mural, painted by New Hampshire Artist Laureate James Aponovich, on Main Street across from City Hall.

"City Arts Nashua works closely with the Nashua Arts Commission on both the Arts and Culture Plan, which was recently approved by the Board of Aldermen, as well as on the project to bring an Arts and Culture Center to Nashua," Carlson says. "We also have close ties with Nashua's Great American Downtown organization that is bringing fun events and more visibility to our downtown area, and with the Nashua Chamber of Commerce. Nashua has not been always been known for its thriving arts scene in the past. We are making strides to make our arts and cultural community known as the hub of arts and culture in the state."

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Allison Wilson is an award-winning writer and communications professional whose...

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