Bringing the Community Together

Catamount Arts PicST. JOHNSBURY- The Levitt Amp Foundation in Los Angeles awards 15 cities across the country grants to hold concerts in an effort to revitalize an area. Last year, Catamount Arts applied and won this grant, and now their back this year, trying to win the grant again. Facing some tough competition, this task may seem daunting.

"We're up against cities and towns that are in the triple digits in terms of population, and we have between six thousands residents to seven thousand," said Molly Stone, producer for the Levitt Amp St. Johnsbury Music Series at Dog Mountain. "There's a huge difference between some of us and last year, for instance, we were up against Carson City and Sante Fe. These cities are large. They're much larger than, and so winning the popular vote when you have a small popular means that you have to engage everyone.'

 

While the population difference might be substantial, it didn't impact the citizens of the NEK, who voted enough to bring the series to Dog Mountain last year.

After 11 concerts every Sunday this past summer, it was evident the effect an event like this can have on a local community.

"People coming and staying in the area, shopping in town, eating at the restaurants, shopping our gallery here too, it just brought a lot of people to the area," said Pam McCann, General Manager of Dog Mountain. "We had upwards of 900 people here every weekend. And a lot of foot traffic. It really did impact the area. It brought a lot of value on a lot of different levels."

Stone also added, "Bringing people from and through Saint Jay, through that part of town. It's across the railroad tracks, there's no big businesses, there's a gas station that's shut down. It's a place where you don't generally go to go shopping, even though that hopefully will change now that we have redirected traffic to go to Dog Mountain. It's off the beaten trail, in that you have to turn off the road and go up the dirt road. So I think driving all the traffic that way is going to make an economic difference for sure."

Local businesses were a major part in the success of the series. The Kingdom Taproom set up a stand to sell, and were able to generate income on days that are considered slower than others. Riley's Fish Shack, a restaurant less than a mile from Dog Mountain, did see a noticable increase in their traffic on those Sundays.

"The first couple of concerts we hadn’t really seen a huge change in business as summers are busy for us anyway. However by the third concert, possibly fourth, we noticed a great increase," said Riley Rutchick, owner of RIiley's Fish Shack, which is located less than a mile from Dog Mountain. "I think that was just how long it took for word to spread about the concert series.I think the concerts were a fantastic idea for the area it seemed like many locals and even travelers enjoyed it . It’s nice to have a place to gather as a community and just relax."

And now Catamount Arts is asking for the community's help to bring the concert series back for another year. The voting began on November 1st, and runs through November 20th. There is a limit to one vote per email address, which makes it extremely challenging for smaller communities like St. Johnsbury. But after just 11 concerts, Stone was able to see the ramifications on the town and its members.

"You take an underserved area, and Dog Mountain was that underserved area, and you bring music to it. You bring arts to the center of it. And when you bring arts to the center of it, it's like planting a seed. Then, the flower begins to grow, and people come to see the flower. And then around that, communities grow. Businesses show up, people spend their money, and you just have this ripple effect. That's their mission, to take places don't generally have traffic, or really anything to attract the community to, and bring them there. And once you get communities together, around something that's really positive, growth just happens. it's just fertile soil."

Voting can be done at http://concerts.levittamp.org/.

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