Mary and Eric Goldthwaite-Gagne
How did you feel or what was running through your head when you and Mary were named “Civic Leaders of the Year?”
Well I had never really won anything before, so that whole experience of anticipation etc. was pretty strange. Also, I never thought that we’d be recognized in this way. Honestly, I feel like what we do is pretty important, but you just get used to music and the arts in general being relegated to the realm of “hobby”. What we do is work; the organization and curation is really an art unto itself, so it felt validating for it to be recognized as such.
What were the factors that influenced you to run a business in New Hampshire?
I wouldn’t say that we are quite “running a business”. We are just getting our 501c3 status, so maybe in a few years, after we’ve been fundraising and getting grants, we can consider ourselves a business. In the transition from a bunch of scraps of paper to board meetings, we are finally running it like a business, but all we’re doing is taking money and turning it into exciting and unique experiences for our audiences.
How does the work you and Mary do both strengthen and bring attention to your community?
We’re bringing the outside world into Peterborough in a way. This community in particular of the Monadnock region, is a hamlet. It’s fairly large area-wise, but downtown Peterborough is tucked away. Because of that, it is able to retain an old time kind of vibe. That is a valuable thing. The world is accessible to everyone via all of the technology available, but you can’t really turn back the clock once things are modernized. That makes preserving the small town extremely important. Cities can be beautiful, and there is obviously such a rich selection of possibilities, but they make me anxious. A small town gives me the space, both physically and mentally, but it can be lacking when it comes to exciting contemporary art. We are lucky to have a lot of great work being done in our area already, but we like to present what is exciting to us in this kind of celebration. Hopefully folks are inspired by our enthusiasm, and enter into the conversation, or begin their own.
What was the muse that brought about the creation of The Thing in the Spring music festival and the Broke: The Affordable Arts Fair?
Mary and I, along with our friend Ryan Wilson, started putting this together because we weren’t satisfied with the aesthetic or accessibility of what was going on around us. Sure, there were great things here and there, but we wanted to make it our own, and we wanted to champion these particular artists and musicians by providing them with the proper venue and respect. Ryan and I were interested in the Fillmore, Woodstock, the poster scene, and the curation of these type of events. We wanted to be able to bring a lot of seemingly disparate elements together to present exciting combinations. The art fair works similarly. It’s also integral to the attitudes we have about doing this kind of work. So many of us make beautiful things, and we just do it because we have to. Broke offers the opportunity to connect with more folks that feel the same wonderful compulsion to create, as well as providing a venue to get something back for your time.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs who are looking to run a successful small business in New Hampshire?
Just make sure it’s something that you really love to do. We don’t get paid for what we do, and we work all year to make this one weekend happen. It’s totally worth it, but if you don’t like what you’re doing, you’ll just get tired and broken down by it.