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Out & About: Center for the Arts scholarship fundraiser goes virtual

  • Violinist Oliver Andrews will be one of the performers in the Lake Sunapee’s Got Talent online fundraiser for the Center for the Arts' scholarship fundraiser. (Photograph courtesy of the Center for the Arts) Photograph courtesy of the Center for the Arts

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/27/2020 9:20:43 PM
Modified: 5/27/2020 9:20:38 PM

NEW LONDON — The Center for the Arts’ biggest fundraiser of the year will still take place on Saturday.

However, like nearly all events during the coronavirus pandemic, it will look a lot different.

“We’re producing a fabulous show online,” said Jean Cronin Connolly, chairwoman of the New London-based nonprofit organization.

Tune in at 6 p.m. on Comcast channels 21 or 713, or watch on Facebook Live or YouTube Live at 7:30 p.m. to watch the nine performances in Lake Sunapee’s Got Talent. During the performances, viewers can vote for their favorite contestant for the “People’s Choice Award.” Participants include acrodancer and contortionist Sofia Upton, jazz vocalist Lauri Smerald, The Fern Family Band, and ballroom dancers Renee and Steve Patten. Dance ensembles from the Kearsarge Conservatory of the Performing Arts will also perform.

Details for viewing a full list of performers can be found at While it is free to stream the event, viewers are encouraged to make a donation to the organization’s scholarship fund.

“This year it’s been challenging because we’re unable to do it live and we’ve been unable to sell tickets,” Connolly said. “There are about 100 pieces to this show. It’s very complex, putting it together for online viewing.”

The organization has also restructured the annual event from past years. Previously, it held a Dancing with the Stars-like competition, but this year changed it to include a wider array of performances.

The acts are being filmed separately and will be compiled for Saturday’s show. The performance was all set before the pandemic hit.

“It was a challenge shifting gears, but everyone was ready to go and excited about doing it and we wanted to bring it to the community one way or another,” Connolly said. “We’re excited about doing this online. It’s going to be fun.”

About 300 people typically attend the performance, which is now in its fifth year. Combined with an auction that takes place the same night, the event usually raises around $10,000, which is then distributed in 12 scholarships for Lake Sunapee-area students pursuing higher education or summer camp programs.

“We know the pandemic is going to make a huge cut in the proceeds, but we’re hoping to make two-thirds of that,” Connolly said. “We’re in the process of interviewing scholarship applicants and we hope to be able to award as many as we have in the past. I don’t expect we’ll be able to do that this year, but we hope to be able to award eight.”

Here’s a look at some Upper Valley-based virtual events that are coming up.

■Dartmouth College professor Linda Fowler will give a talk titled “One Hundred Years of the NH Primary: Is It Still as Important as It Was?” during a virtual Hanover Historical Society program at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Email Cyndy Bittinger, president of the Hanover Historical Society, at for Zoom information.

■There are still a couple of days left in Billings Farm and Museum’s Sheep and Wool Week. View a list of at-home activities, as well as sheep-related videos, at

■The Upper Valley Music Center is in the midst of its online Sing and Play Festival. This weekend, there are a number of virtual recitals taking place. More information can be found at

■A reminder that Saturday is Green Up Day in Vermont and many Upper Valley towns are participating in some fashion. Be sure to check in with area organizers, or simply grab a garbage bag and work on cleaning up your neighborhood.

Editor’s note: Please email Upper Valley-based virtual events to Liz Sauchelli can be reached at or 603-727-3221.

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