NEWPORT — A collaborative of local arts and commerce groups aim to put the cultural offerings in Newport, Claremont, and neighboring hubs literally and figuratively “on the map” as early as this coming fall.

The Arts & Business Alliance, a grassroots collective of commerce and arts-centered organizations in Sullivan and Merrimack Counties, are launching a major educational and crowdfunding campaign this month to create a pair of regional destination maps, a paper brochure, and a digitally interactive online module.

These maps will show the area, including Newport, Claremont, and Sunapee, “through the lens of [their] galleries and museums, libraries, cultural hubs, historical societies, public art piece, music and concert venues, theatres, and dance companies,” according to Kate Luppold, executive director of the Library Arts Center in Newport, one of the Arts & Business Alliance’s core partners.

The digital site will also provide information about local restaurants, businesses, accommodations, recreational and cultural attractions surrounding an arts venue, a directory of regional artists and musicians and an events calendar.

This regional approach to promoting local arts and commerce is not only geared to bolster tourism to the region but increase cultural connectivity within the communities, Luppold told The Eagle Times.

“This project is also about community identity and pride,” Luppold said. “There are over 100 cultural assets right here in this region. By making those connections between our communities through a collective platform, we want people to remember what we have here.”

The arts culture in the Sunapee region is deeply intertwined with its local communities, Luppold told the Newport Selectboard on Monday. In Newport, for example, buildings like the Newport Opera House and the Library Arts Center, a community art gallery and studio, are central community hubs and events and shows are typically community-centered: designed for the community and often showcasing performers or artists from the community.

The map project also aims to generate tourism and economic growth across the region by pooling the region’s cultural resources and assets.

The core partners comprising the Arts & Business Alliance are the Library Arts Center; the Center for the Arts, a regional arts supporter in New London; the Lake Sunapee Region Chamber of Commerce; and Sullivan County Government. The Arts & Business Alliance also receives support from the chambers of commerce in Newport, Claremont, and Kearsarge; Vital Communities, in Hartford, Vermont; and Mascoma Bank.

The decision by the arts and commerce groups to partner made logical sense given the mutual economic benefit between the arts and surrounding businesses like restaurants and shops, Luppold said.

The economic revenue generated from tourism or patrons of the visual, musical or performing arts constitutes the term “arts economy.”

“Looking at each other’s organizations and projects, we realized we have a lot in common,” Luppold said. “It’s exciting to start seeing these connections [through the partnership].”

The Arts & Business Alliance estimates the map project to cost $30,000. This amount will fund the design, production and distribution of the map brochures, the development of the interactive website and its maintenance for the next three years.

The Arts & Business Alliance has already raised $18,000 for the project, including a $10,000 grant from Sullivan County and $8,000 in donations from organizations and individuals.

The crowdfunding campaign starts this month to raise the remaining project cost. The campaign will incorporate outreach through social media and other resources and also aim to grow community awareness about the project.

To learn more about the Sunapee map project, its contributors and how to donate, visit the project website at sunapeeartsatlas.org.

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