I have been an active photographic artist for 40 years and in the professional film business for over 20 years as a still photographer, location scout, and producer. I've worked on countless major studio productions all over the country and have worked tirelessly to bring more professional film projects to New Hampshire and advocate for local film makers, both through state tax benefits and support for independent projects. There seems to be a lack of desire for local professional artists to be taken seriously, by themselves AND by the administrators and politicians within the community. Since I moved to the Seacoast in 2007, Scott Ruffner has been one of the few arts professionals providing opportunities and support for those of us who take their work and craft seriously, and are not just interested in being part of a local scene or clique. Since the establishment of the Arts Industry Alliance and TEAM, I have witnessed first-hand the number of paying gigs and community events that legitimately offer growth and real exposure for our local talent.
I am currently a resident of Key West, Florida, but spend my summers in Exeter, NH. I produce and direct concerts featuring local musicians, burlesque shows, variety shows, fundraisers and special events on the island. In addition to performing, I am an art teacher for grades K-8 at May Sands Montessori School in Key West. I grew up in New Hampshire, and studied Arts Education at Plymouth State University.
Though my career in entertainment is very active in Florida, I have had difficulty finding work as a musician and artist in NH throughout my life. I met Scott Ruffner and the artists and musicians of TEAM in 2015 when I was working as a server at Epoch restaurant during one of their events. Not only did I go on to collaborate with many of these people at paying gigs, but we even recorded an album together during my summer in Exeter called “Groove Lounge X Bria Ansara”. The album featured original music, performed by several local musicians and myself. I was fortunate to meet and have positive interactions with like-minded artists and musicians at events sponsored by TEAM and the Arts Industry Alliance. Aside from working with TEAM and AIA, I have not found much luck in booking gigs as an R&B, Hip Hop and Jazz performer. There are many venues offering folk music, bluegrass, and cover bands; but aside from several TEAM events, I have not experienced much variety or diversity in style or genre. I look forward to working with TEAM/AIA in the future, and any other group in NH dedicated to featuring homegrown, unique artists. I think there is a great need in our region for more individuality, and locally-based art and performance. I speak from experience when I say that Scott Ruffner and TEAM/AIA has supported my endeavors in NH, and has nothing but the best intentions in bringing local talent to the forefront.
TEAM is a tremendous addition to Exeter’s cultural scene; it’s fantastic to see such a diverse group of hyperlocal artists coming together to propagate original, unique, and fresh material. They’re actively proving that the town is awake, alive and continuously growing. TEAM’s exciting and unexpected downtown art & music events are a welcome change to the status quo, and they are successful in attracting a young, vibrant crowd with much to contribute. As someone who grew up in Exeter in an artistic family, earned a degree in Art History, moved out of state to live in various metropolitan areas, and relatively recently returned to Exeter, I have found it exciting to witness TEAM challenging the average pattern of the small town arts & music situation.
TEAM & AIA consist of creators whose main goals are making art and setting it in front of those who wish to enjoy it. They focus on the artists, and are both understanding and anticipatory of their creative needs and goals. TEAM & AIA are capable advocates and tenacious allies for artists, and I’m looking forward to both participating in and attending more TEAM-organized shindigs - their use of the beautiful (yet underutilized) Swasey Parkway has been exactly what the town needs. I’d love to see TEAM get behind the Thursday night concerts in the park during the summer months; their handling of the series would certainly mean that I’d start to attend the shows, to which I haven’t been in years. TEAM’s endeavors are rapidly turning Exeter into an artistic destination in the seacoast area, and AIA’s community-building e nterprises are invaluable to the creative masses of New Hampshire.
I lived in the Exeter area until I was 18 years old, and I always felt like there was a disconnect between myself and the area. After living in Edinburgh Scotland, a city completely saturated with unified communities of artists, for 5 years and returning to Exeter I was disappointed to see how stifled the artistic culture is in this area. I know for a fact that there are just as many artists here, but I can’t seem to find them easily. That is, until I started working with Scott Ruffner and TEAM, on upcoming artistic events geared toward supporting and drawing out the local artists for celebration. I have been back in Exeter for nearly two years now, and it wasn’t until I started with TEAM that I was able to connect with people I haven’t seen or spoken to in ten years, as well as meet new artists and newly local individuals. In the short time that I’ve been working with Scott I have seen in the faces of everyone we speak to an openness and excitement I have never been able to draw out of New Englanders too easily. This organization has not only been key to me reconnecting to my hometown but also in reinvigorating my passion for local artist culture and the communities that support them. As a result, this is the first time in my life that I’m actually excited to be here and to be involved in this community; I see the potential for Exeter to become the next artsy funky townscape with the help of TEAM, and I’m passionate about seeing that potential into fruition.