Partner Profile: Mary Lou O'Neil
ConVal Visual and Performing Arts Center Committee
The Contoocook Valley, often shortened to ConVal, boasts many spaces for its inhabitants that are both functional and unique. One venue it lacks, however, is an updated multifunctional performance space to be utilized by students, organizations, and other patrons of the arts. There are many reasons why such a space should exist: to some, a performance area is an integral part of the student experience and nurtures learning and friendships. Others see an opportunity for vital cultural and economic prosperity. For all the unique opinions pushing for performance and visual art space, driven individuals in the area have come together to make it a possibility.
The Contoocook Valley Visual and Performing Arts Center is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that focuses on overseeing the progress on such a space as well as looking at alternative forms of funding to see the venue come to fruition. Mary Lou O'Neil, a resident of Hancock and the School-To-Career Coordinator of ConVal High School, is an Executive Committee Member for the ConVal VPAC. She and other dedicated leaders in the area work together regularly, and are currently working on looking at other forms of fundraising. After becoming an official nonprofit, their goals have included creating a Memorandum of Understanding between the organization and the school district, and creating two feasibility studies to look at architecture and financing. Ultimately, this will help make the performance center as efficient as possible.
As a proud partner of The ConVal Visual and Performing Arts Center, we spoke to Mary Lou O'Neil to learn more about the goals and challenges of working with an arts and culture centered PAC. While rewarding, it offers its own unique difficulties. Mary Lou listed "competing interests [and] fundraising initiatives," as one. She went further to say that "Arts are not as heavily supported as other non-profits." There is a light at the end of the tunnel, however. As support for non-profits like CVVPAC and Arts Alive! grows, she hopes that "more people see the economic and cultural impact the arts have on communities - and are willing to support it more."