Each year we bring fine live music to the children of this region. We sponsor concerts in the schools. We make it possible for young people to attend concerts in other venues. We offer tickets free of charge to youth 17 and under. And we keep ticket prices affordable so that families can attend.
That’s not all.
We also create performance opportunities for young musicians to perform for appreciative audiences at the Festival of the Arts, on the main stage at the POPS concert and at other events that we hold during the year. We also occasionally provide small music scholarships.
One of our most successful initiatives is our musical instrument drive. Do you have unused instruments that you can donate to the schools? Let us know. We will repair and refurbish them, if necessary, and put them into a loan program for local children who can’t afford to buy or rent their own instruments. (Tax receipt provided.) And by the way, almost 60 percent of area children are eligible for the federal government’s free and reduced lunch program. Which means that many of them are economically disadvantaged.
We also support community economic development. A lively and attractive cultural environment enhances quality of life for residents and visitors alike, and it creates a positive environment and opportunities for economic development.
The mission of the Kingfield POPS is to provide music and art programming for regional residents, youth and schools. The Kingfield POPS believes that a vibrant arts environment enhances quality of life and creates opportunities for economic development.
History of the Kingfield POPS
The Kingfield POPS began in 2003 as a project of the Mt. Abram Economic Development Association (MAEDA) to bring tourists to the area in order to boost the local economy as well as provide a fun family event that would be of value to the local residents despite the downturn in our local economy. Loss of work in the forest products industry and the closing of several mills had put many people out of work. With a substantial tourist infrastructure and workforce that serves the area’s winter visitors, Kingfield and its surrounding communities were poised to host a summer tourist/resident population.
Organizers believed that a quality summer performance surrounded by the area’s natural scenic beauty would attract cultural tourists to the area and ultimately lead to new economic development opportunities. The group wished to build on area strengths, including its natural beauty and the already present tourism infrastructure from Farmington to Eustis. The ultimate goal was and remains to make this region an attractive site for new business and to generate an economic stimulus for all existing business via increased tourism and events. Developing the summer offerings means residents could work here full time and not have to relocate or travel to the coast for employment.
The mission has remained the same since the inceptionof the POPS:
As part of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra’s mission to bring quality live music to rural areas, the BSO was hired to perform on July 5, 2003. The local Steel Drum Band, which had performed at the inauguration of Governor King, opened the concert. A local group was hired to open for the BSO. Clowns circulated to make this a family friendly event. Picnics were encouraged. Children, 17 and under, were admitted free of charge. Now free youth tickets are distributed each year in three school districts. Last year more than 20% of the audience was youth.
Since ticket revenue can never cover the cost of an event of this scope, fundraising to local businesses and individuals was launched which has continued. In 2010, 81 businesses and individuals donated from $25 to $5000.
After several years, the businesses in town told us that people were not stopping downtown on their way to the POPS. We instituted a daytime Arts Festival with arts and crafts vendors and live music performed by aspiring local youth and small groups. This has been well received, with artists from all over the state coming to sell their creations and youth having significant performance opportunities.
Starting with the first year, the POPS brought BSO and other performers into the SAD 58 schools and then, as we expanded, to the SAD 9 schools to inspire the youth to learn more about music and perhaps to try playing an instrument. They also hold master classes for aspiring young musicians.
A used-instrument drive was held to collect instruments that people had purchased and no longer used. These were refurbished by the POPS and loaned to youth who could not afford to purchase or rent instruments. More than 50 % of our children qualify for free or reduced lunch.
As we enter our 14th year, we have remained true to our mission.
The concert has grown to include a wide variety of Maine musicians. New music has been written for the events and exciting collaborations have been staged.
Audiences have numbered almost 2000. Ticket sales include 4% who come from states as far away as Florida, California, Texas, Colorado, Nebraska and Tennessee. Another 14% come from the greater New England and mid Atlantic states; 10 % from the Bangor and coastal area and 25% come from central and southern Maine. Forty per cent come from within an hour’s drive of Kingfield. Lodging packages have been offered. Local businesses have felt the impact of the arrival of the out of town guests.