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Out & About: Sunapee Region Arts Atlas puts the ‘art’ in ‘cartography’

  • A work in progress of the Sunapee Area Arts Atlas that is being illustrated by Dana Saulnier. The map will feature arts and cultural assets in the Sunapee region. (Dana Saulnier photograph)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/15/2021 10:47:26 PM
Modified: 5/18/2021 9:35:52 AM

Two towns and a little over 20 minutes away from the Library Arts Center is the Gibson Pewter Museum.

But looking at an atlas or GPS, it might not occur to someone to tie the Newport. N.H.-based and Washington, N.H.-based organizations together, two stops that a visitor can make in a single afternoon. Organizers of a new project hope to make those connections more apparent with a paper map and interactive website.

Titled the “Sunapee Region Arts Atlas,” the map will highlight arts and cultural organizations throughout 25 towns.

“We feel this region has been underserved in the past. People bypass it on their way to the Upper Valley, which is incredibly rich, and Monadnock Valley and Concord,” said Jean Connolly, board chair of the Center for the Arts in New London and member of the Arts and Business Alliance, which is putting the atlas together. “There’s so much surrounding us that sometimes we get lost in the middle and people forget how much is really here.”

The paper map will be available in July at organizations throughout the region. There is also a plan to place it at tourist information centers throughout the state. The website will launch in the fall and include nature trails, restaurants and small businesses, in addition to the arts/culture components. On Monday, the Arts and Business Alliance along with Vital Communities is launching a fundraiser to bring in the remaining $12,000 needed to complete the $30,000 project, said Fran Huot, marketing coordinator for the Library Arts Center. Unlike other attraction maps, the Atlas will not have ads.

“The primary goal (is to) amplify all of the arts organizations and cultural assets and not just give property to the ones with the biggest pockets,” said Huot, who is also a member of the Arts and Business Alliance.

Among the assets included are the Center Meetinghouse in Newbury, N.H.; Amplified Arts in Claremont; Unity’s 1831 Town Hall; Pumpkin Ridge Rugs in Salisbury, N.H.; the Plainfield Historical Society; and the New Hampshire Telephone Museum in Warner, N.H.

Artist and illustrator Dana Saulnier, of Springfield, N.H., will illustrate the Atlas. The alliance sees it serving both residents and visitors in the region.

“At the forefront, we wanted it to be beautiful and artful and engaging, and that would be the success of it, that it wouldn’t feel like an advertisement going out into your hands, that it would feel like an invitation to explore the region,” Huot said. “There’s just so many things right in the swath of land between the Upper Valley and Monadnock Region that even people who have lived here all their lives haven’t had a chance to explore.”

The Arts Atlas has been in the works for a few years. It was just starting to get off the ground when the COVID-19 pandemic began and the organizations involved had to focus on their own needs, said Kate Luppold, executive director of the Library Arts Center.

“We’re all small organizations in smaller towns and cities, so we’re all kind of doing this ourselves,” said Luppold, who is also a member of the Arts and Business Alliance. “We’re all working so hard to promote our own things with limited staff and limited everything, but by creating this collective platform we’re seeing were able to help everyone and help everyone help each other.”

Luppold referenced the Gibson Pewter Museum as an example: People stopping by the Library Arts Center might not think the next logical step is going to the museum, but the map could show them that it could be. Once the online Atlas is in place, people could launch it to help them find events that are taking place at different venues.

“It shows all the layers of what’s going on so these experiences aren’t so siloed,” Luppold said.

Even though businesses aren’t at the forefront of the project, they stand to benefit.

“While coming up or experiencing our arts community we hope there is an organic overlap of experiencing our other local industries as well,” Ashlee Rowley, director of the Lake Sunapee Region Chamber of Commerce and a member of the alliance, said in an email. “While traveling within the Sugar River and Lake Sunapee Region, they may need a cup of coffee, a fill-up on gas, a lodging property, a delicious dinner or even a souvenir of their trip — it all plays a part in the success of our overall local economy.”

Editor’s note: For more information about the Sunapee Region Arts Atlas, visit sunapeeartsatlas.org.

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.




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