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Opera House continues growth

September 05, 2018
LITTLETON—The Opera House continues to expand its events listings, and sustain key partnerships with local arts groups, nonprofits, and businesses.

Bookings have reached 305 this year so far, already ahead of last year's 252, and 237 in 2016, when management passed from the Chamber of Commerce to the town. Revenues have expanded from a few thousand that year, to more than $10,000 last year, and are expected to reach $30,000 or greater before 2018 is out.

The Opera House will next host a fundraiser-flea market on Sept. 15. Anyone with crafts, antiques, or baked goods can attend, whether business, nonprofit, or private citizens-mercantile. A table costs only $20, which is less than many such events change, because it gets people in the door. Last April's flea market filled up completely, with 29 vendors total, resulting in a waiting list, and next spring's is already beginning to fill up. This September's still has space though: interested citizens should contact Sue Pilotte at spilotte@townoflittleton.org, or 575-5324.

Fairs and vendor shows have generated several thousand dollars alone, and fit the venue's goals of bringing people together and raising money from private and nonprofit sources.

"It's exciting for the Opera House, and it's a fundraiser that doesn't involve any added expenses," explained Opera House director Sue Pilotte, who runs the venue for the town. Past flea market vendors have come from as far away as Keene. On Nov. 24, the Opera House will host a holiday craft fair, continuing a tradition that began with Second Chance Animal Shelter in years past.

"I'm lucky that I have some great friends of the Opera House," Pilotte said.

She expects the Opera House to need an additional part-timer to help handle technical and administrative duties, based on the growth of business.

The task of booking and managing a major, year-round venue continues to be a learning process, Pilotte says, and she had taken a particularly keen interest in safety rules and the costs of equipment and repairs. She thanked Fire Chief Joe Mercieri in particular for his assistance with state and local regs, and with safety generally.

Challenges remain; most acutely, equipment is aging or nonexistent, in particular, lights.

"Due to circumstances beyond our control, we do not have spotlights in the building," Pilotte explained. "A lot of our venue equipment, that was on loan, is no longer available to the Opera House."

A replacement grant application has been written, and at least one act has already planned to bring their own lights.

Nonetheless, Pilotte appreciates the help and partnerships that she says have bane the venue an ongoing, and upward success.

She added, "the support from the community, whether it be technical assistance, anything regarding the venue, and ways that we can move forward."

Citizens from TV producers, High School teachers, members of her board, and local artists have all played their part.

Adam Reczek, who hosted Music on the 'Noosuc for the past two years at the Opera House, praised the venue's blend of past and present.

"Like the Colonial Theater in Bethlehem, Littleton's Opera House is a beautiful relic of North Country History, and we're fortunate to see it live on with the same thriving spirit in modern times," he said.

"The Upstage Players are thankful and excited the town recognizes the importance of making continual upgrades and improvements to support our performing arts venue," said Andrew Lidestri, Artistic Director of the Upstage Players, which practices and performs in the Opera House, its de facto home base.

A taste of the season: Sept. 29 will see "The King Return" to the Littleton Opera House, with Mark Shelton's Elvis act, for $15 apiece, while Oct. 20th will see Big Man Swing North play the Opera House's Halloween Dance. The goal is, something for everybody.

"I love promoting Littleton," Pilotte says. "The Opera House is a big part of the community."

Martin Lord Osman
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