This past summer downtown Cumberland brought people together downtown for a series of concerts aimed at making the arts accessible to all.
It seems the organizers are looking at doing it again.
At a recent Village of Cumberland council meeting, organizers Meaghan Cursons and Kera McHugh, two of the directors from the Elevate Consortium, gave council a review of the summer concert series, as well as a look at some of the other projects the organization takes on.
“It was a hugely successful series,” said Cursons.
The free concerts were the result of a partnership with Cumberland Village Works, businesses and the Village. These took place on Thursday evenings from early July to mid-August.
The concert series is only part of the work Elevate does in the arts, according to Cursons. Some projects are designed to generate revenue while others, like the concert series, make use of the funds to help make the arts “grassroots and barrier-free” for the wider community.
For last year’s series, the concerts took place in the park at Village Square, with the Masonic Hall available as a backup site in the event of inclement weather,
“Twice we needed it,” Cursons said.
In the meantime, Elevate will be busy with other projects. Much of its work is designed to use art and culture to deepen the community’s sense of “connection to place” since they started producing an arts festival in 2012.
Upcoming projects for Elevate include the annual winter bazaar in December and the Cumberland Kids’ Choir starting in January, which is happening in conjunction with Choral Valley.
“We’re using our resources to offset the cost of bringing in a professional accompanist and choral director,” Cursons said.
As far as the concert series, some shows attracted several hundred people. Overall, attendance was estimated to be easily over 1,000 for the series. The plan is to put on another concert series for next summer.
“We would like to pursue this for next summer,” Cursons said. “We have a track record now.”
They will be looking for sponsorship and lining up talent for the shows, all with the goal of celebrating the arts while making them accessible to people in the community and keeping things simple.
“This is an event for the community and kids and families of all ages to access culture in their own community, and it’s less about a massive destination event,” she said. “It’s more about building community cultural capacity.”
Council was receptive to the idea of holding the series again in 2020, as Mayor Leslie Baird said, “You’ve proven it can happen here.”
Last year’s series featured a diverse array of acts, including Arialists, Porteau and Corwin Fox, Entangados, Coldwater Road and Foxglove, with guests appearing at many of the shows as well.
“We have multiple Juno-nominated or award-winning artists,” Cursons said.
For more information about Elevate, see www.elevatethearts.com/