I am an Exeter resident and business owner who has practiced Psychiatry in the Seacoast area for 30 years. I graduated from Harvard College and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and completed my Psychiatry Residency at Harvard Medical School’s McLean Hospital. I later went on to obtain an MBA from Harvard Business School. Throughout my education and professional career, I have studied extensive medical research linking the mental health of a community with the level of involvement in art, music and culture, with the greatest benefit coming from active participation rather than passive exposure to “the arts”. As a board member of Arts Industry Alliance and the TEAM initiative, I am a strong proponent of prioritizing the channeling of community resources to programs that support artists and musicians producing original work. This gives both the creators and the community at large a sense of self-worth and pride. I have been extremely impressed with the strides this organization has made despite the hurdles they seem to face on a regular basis. These artists and musicians have a wealth of professional experience and knowledge of the various genres within the arts industry. They also bridge social barriers at their events, often bringing people together from different age demographics, diverse cultural backgrounds, and different political viewpoints. I encourage everyone to get behind Arts Industry Alliance and TEAM. They have the best of intentions for the future of Exeter.
As a resident of Exeter for over 45 years, I appreciate all that Exeter has to offer. Exeter was a wonderful place for my wife and me to raise our children. Being a performing musician for over 50 years, I historically noticed a lack of musical and performance arts in our town until Scott Ruffner and his group began to pull together music and art events through their non-profit organization, TEAM, a clever acronym of Town, Exeter, Arts, Music.
I recently became aware that TEAM is experiencing difficulty in securing local venues, which I find ironic since they are the group that made these spaces relevant and desirable once again. There seems to be a serious lack of support from local bureaucracy for an organization that is accomplishing what many others have failed at over the last 20 years. In my years in town I have operated businesses in both Portsmouth and Exeter. Early on I realized that Exeter is not a destination. As we all know, Portsmouth is. For the most part, Exeter businesses and community programs depend on local residents. Likewise, local residents would like to shop and avail themselves to support local events. With the hiring of Economic Development Director Darren Winham, Exeter has taken a positive step in improving the local economy, broadening the tax base, and helping our town become a destination. TEAM compliments that effort. I think it is time for all of Exeter to embrace and encourage this group and their intentions of helping Exeter become a hub for homegrown talent.
As a 23 year old musician who has lived almost my entire life in Exeter, I must say that the events that TEAM has put on in the last year are the first times I have ever felt like I was part of and proud of something the community was organizing. We all know that New Hampshire is not seen as a hot spot for professional artistic or musical talent, but the work these guys are doing is starting to give younger people hope that we could potentially build up a scene here worth sticking around for. I met Scott Ruffner at a music event he produced in the upstairs art gallery at town hall, and he, Sharon, Marissa, Bruce, Dave and the other artists I’ve since met have all been excellent mentors and given me guidance on how to get paying gigs in the area, and have never asked me for anything in return. These guys are doing so much for Exeter and the Seacoast and if more support was given, then young musicians like me wouldn’t feel the need to relocate to larger markets.
I have lived in Exeter for over 30 years and the two festivals in Swasey Parkway sponsored and organized by TEAM have been the best and most tasteful use of a town property or building I have seen in all my years in town. TEAM has proven to be an extremely capable and professional organization that Exeter could greatly benefit from if they were given increased responsibility and support with overseeing more of our arts and music programming,