Editorial: Concord’s cultural entrepreneurs

Thursday, August 10, 2017

There is no shortage of motivated cultural entrepreneurs the Concord area. They are the people who say, “Hey, you know what would be cool . . ..” and then work tirelessly to make it happen. For those of us who are great at coming up with ideas but decidedly less great at acting on them, it is inspiring to watch concepts become events through little more than force of will and elbow grease.

We don’t have the space to list all the local heroes who actually drive economic and cultural development in Greater Concord rather than just talk about it. But they know who they are, and the fruits of their labor appear in the pages of the Monitor and the Insider throughout the year. From farmers markets to Market Days, art festivals to community concerts, it is a rare stretch of time when there isn’t some sort of pop-up event scheduled to complement the more permanent features of Concord’s bright cultural landscape.

This week, for example, features the two-day Rock On Fest, a testament to the affection Luke and Matt Bonner hold for their hometown. As one would expect from the Bonner brothers, basketball is at the heart of the festival (which moves from White Park to the downtown area for the first time this year), but music and philanthropy share space on the marquee. A regulation NBA court is being shipped in from Minnesota to be set up in a yet-to-be determined spot downtown, where three-on-three tournaments will begin at noon on Friday. Later in the day, Concord and Merrimack Valley will compete in a unified game, followed by a showing of the film Space Jam on the State House lawn at 8 p.m. Basketball resumes on Saturday, followed by several musical acts. To add to the offerings, Intown Concord is hosting a pancake breakfast, which should provide fuel for visitors to participate in group yoga and sidewalk sales. We would also expect a positive ripple effect for the farmers market on Capitol Street and the arts market in Bicentennial Square.

Luke and Matt’s Rock On Foundation exists not only to entertain but to charitably “increase community artistic and athletic opportunities.” As Nick Reid reported in Monday’s “Downtown” column, past beneficiaries of the foundation’s fundraising include an after-school arts program in Rochester, a summer swim program in the North Country and a community music school in Nashua. This year, all of downtown Concord gets a boost, too – and it could be the kind that lasts.

On Friday and Saturday, Rock On Fest’s music and basketball will draw young people to the capital city, some for the first time. Others who have been away for a while might find themselves pleasantly surprised by Concord’s new energy. They will want to come back, and so they will. And if it wasn’t so difficult to find an apartment, some wouldn’t leave.

That is the power of the kind of creative and cultural entrepreneurship that the Bonners and so many others in Concord embody. They say, “Hey, you know what would be cool . . . ” and refuse to leave it at that. They take the time to show us, and this community is so much the richer for it.