THOMASTON — For nearly two decades, the Fine Arts Connection of Thomaston, Inc. has filled Seth Thomas Park with engaging and exciting live musical entertainment Monday evenings in summer.
The music may come to a halt by the end of this year’s Summer Concert Series because fewer able-bodied volunteers are available to set up the organization’s sound equipment and conduct sound checks for each concert.
The Fine Arts Connection has hosted countless talented acts throughout its 17-year lineage.
The organization was founded by former Thomaston music teacher Bob Collins in 1996.
Becoming a nonprofit organization in June of 1999, the Fine Arts Connection hosted many cultural events including art exhibits at the Lena Morton Gallery and receptions at Thomaston Opera House theater opening nights.
The Thomaston Savings Bank Foundation has been FACT’s main sponsor through its grant program.
The Summer Concert Series began in 2001 on the lawn of a local church with the Farmington Valley Band giving the first performance.
From 2003 to 2007, the series transitioned into six weeks of events.
In 2008, it gained three more weeks of performances, totaling nine weeks of live musical entertainment.
The Fine Arts Connection has hosted more than 100 different musicians or groups, many of whom have been original singers and songwriters.
Hailing from as far as Japan and spanning the U.S., the series has included performers from all genres of music: bluegrass, country, classic rock, a cappella groups, classical, jazz, blues, soul and pop.
After years of musical memories, an attrition of volunteers due to age and health may end the Summer Concert Series after the 2019 calendar year.
Carol Pytel and Dennis LaPlante, the original co-chairs, who are nearing retirement or already retired, said aging bodies are unable to haul the sound equipment to the park each week for set up on Monday afternoons. There is a lack of able-bodied volunteers to help out and they are thinking it may be time to call it a day.
Originally, the Fine Arts Connection asked bands to bring their own sound systems. FACT now owns its own sound equipment.
Requesting bands and performers to bring and set up their own sound equipment for each show would be “a step backward,” the co-chairs said.
“We have raised the bar and gained a reputation for quality concerts and we think this would be detrimental to what we have achieved. FACT has established a great track record, but it is time to turn it over to younger, fresher people.
“Early on, we realized that the overall quality of the sound was inconsistent, and at times too loud or overdriven and we needed to find a way to create a venue that was enjoyable for all involved,” Ms. Pytel and Mr. LaPlante shared.
While some towns organize summer concert series through Parks and Recreation Departments, Thomaston’s live summer entertainment has been provided by FACT for 17 years.
“Since the town of Thomaston is unable to financially support the series, funding has come from grants, businesses, civic organizations and individuals,” the organizers said.
Ms. Pytel and Mr. LaPlante noted the importance of the town allowing FACT to use Crescent Gallery, Seth Thomas Park and other municipal facilities for events, especially the park for the Summer Concert Series.
Mr. LaPlante is grateful to those who have stepped forward to assist FACT, including Rob Ross, David Verdosci and family, his son, Chris LaPlante, John Pytel and Ian Jones from the Landmark Community Theater.
The organizers are willing to create community service hours for a high school-age student who could assist a few hours a week, which would allow for the concert series to be saved.
The assistance of younger, able-bodied volunteers to set up the sound equipment would solve the issue.
Able-bodied persons are needed to assist on Monday afternoons and evenings until Monday, August 19.
The organization is willing to teach anyone who is interested in learning more about sound production.