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City launches new performance platform for local musicians

By Kendra Caruso | Oct 08, 2020
Photo by: Kendra Caruso Mayor Eric Sanders, center, cuts the ribbon at Belfast's new performance space, The Launch Pad, Oct. 8.

Belfast — An Oct. 8 ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new downtown performance space drew a small crowd that braved heavy winds for about 30 minutes to watch Mayor Eric Sanders cut the ribbon and hear volunteers speak. The Launch Pad will give local artists a free venue to present music, drama and other performing arts.

Our Town Belfast, the Belfast Parks and Recreation Department and volunteers worked to construct the 5-foot-by-8-foot brick-paved pad made of recycled city materials, according to Our Town Belfast Executive Director Zach Schmesser.

Local resident and trumpeter John Monroe developed the idea. He moved to Belfast two years ago and had been thinking about creating a local outdoor venue for artists to present their work, he said.

The location at 33 Main St. seemed most fitting because it is in an area that gets frequent foot traffic and has enough space for small crowds to gather. “Belfast is a performance-friendly town and it makes it easy for people to show their stuff,” he said.

Once he joined the design committee, everything seemed to fall into place with ease, he said. He and two other volunteers laid the bricks after Parks and Recreation dug out the space.

Monroe has worked with other towns in similar capacities, but was surprised at how much of a local arts scene Belfast has, given its small population.

“I just find that there's so much music going on in this town, more than what’s in other towns … there are lots of ways to play music around here and I've never lived in a town with so many musicians,” he said.

There is a 30-minute performance cap at the site and spectators are required to show respect and support for performers. Performers are allowed only one battery amp and are asked to choose appropriate language and material.

Monroe and fellow local musician Carl Oberg closed the ceremony by performing a song and being the first performers on The Launch Pad.

“Everybody has to practice, but until you get out in front of people to play — that’s where the fun is — whether you're 10 years old or 66, like me,” he said.

Carl Oberg, left, and John Monroe perform at Belfast's new performance space, The Launch Pad. (Photo by: Kendra Caruso)
Our Town Belfast Executive Director Zach Schmesser speaks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony Oct. 8 for The Launch Pad. (Photo by: Kendra Caruso)
People gather to watch two local musicians play Oct. 8 during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Belfast's new performance space, The Launch Pad. (Photo by: Kendra Caruso)
(Photo by: Kendra Caruso)
(Photo by: Kendra Caruso)
(Photo by: Kendra Caruso)
(Photo by: Kendra Caruso)
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