Blog: Lebanon is NH’s Community Arts Meca


A group of GSA welcome center volunteers participated in an informative and interesting tour of Lebanon NH’s arts scene hosted by the Upper Valley Business Alliance ( Stops included the new welcome center in Colburn Park, the Lebanon Opera House, Upper Valley Music Center, and the AVA Gallery along with a poke through the Farmer’s Market. Colburn Park is a public gathering & entertainment venue at the heart of Lebanon’s historic district and is close to restaurants, shops, historic buildings, and even the Northern Rail Trail.

The new welcome center attached to the back of the stage in Colburn Park looks like a wonderful place to volunteer for a few hours, especially on Thursdays during their bustling farmer’s market. Volunteers are invited to grab a chair and sit outside during their shifts! The door code is in Volgistics (calendar system) or email Kelly.

The 1924 historic Lebanon Opera House ( is the cultural center for the Upper Valley and is known as the only community-based theatre of its size in west-central New Hampshire and is the home of Opera North and the New Hampshire Music Festival. August 11-13 the NEXUS music and arts festival takes over with something for everyone including a kid-friendly disco party, folk, R&B, jazz, Caribbean, funk and traditional West African songs and even a Prince tribute. The welcome center could use a little extra help during this multi-day event!

The Upper Valley Music School ( is a true community music school for all ages with lessons, camps, jam sessions, ensembles, workshops, master classes, choral and concerts. I was particularly impressed by their multi-generational music program and just how many offerings they had. What a wonderful way to dip your toe or dive in to playing all sorts of music.

At the AVA Gallery (, guests can explore their galleries and exhibits, take art classes and workshops, listen to a live performance, or participate in discussion groups. As with the other downtown locations, AVA is all about community. One such program is their multi-media ArtReach where you can get a glimpse into the creative minds of artists as they take you through the art-making process – from beginning with a blank canvas or raw materials, through decisions about themes, materials, media, colors, techniques, and other aspects of their practice. Whether you want to create using ceramics, fiber, paint, or pencil, and no matter what your age, AVA is a great place to spend an afternoon.

Comments from some of our GSAs…

Growing up in NH, and after moving back to NH after 20 years, I was unaware of the vibrant arts community you have growing there!  The Music Center, AVA Gallery, and the Opera House blew me away.

Being recent retirees, my wife picked up her guitar after many years, and as part of the NH Fiddle Ensemble and other jam sessions, they tour many different locations and I get to see many music halls.  It’s really nice to see that local opera houses are making a come back and towns are seeing the value in capital investments and help revitalize the entire community. ~Dave

I was truly amazed at what was available there for all ages and how inclusive they are of all ages and income levels.   It is a wonderful place to live-and visit.   ~Pat

I LOVED the miniature sculptures depicting outdoor scenes, replete with ponds, trees, boulders, vegetation, and vehicles at AVA. In fact, I was so mesmerized, I didn’t even notice when everyone had left the room and I had to scramble to catch up with the tour!!  ~Sue

The Upper Valley has always been a favorite place of mine and I have frequently told NH visitors traveling north on I-89 that they MUST stop in @ the Info Center / truck stop along the way to see what all the area has to offer.
The tour we took with you was enlightening. I did manage to scan the Farmers Market and enjoyed a tall cup of Watermelon Juice- delicious and appropriate after a few hours of touring the AVA Gallery, Music Center and Opera House. ~Norma