Margot Kimball, Marcia Rasmussen, and Kate Yoder were among the pioneers of the West Concord Junction Cultural District Committee. Photo by Edward Feather.

Pioneering women make their mark on West Concord Arts scene

By Richard Fahlander  Correspondent
September 21, 2023

Over the past several years, West Concord has become a hotbed of creativity thanks to the collaboration of dedicated volunteers and responsive town officials. And now the West Concord Junction Cultural District Committee is entering a new phase as the last two original members, Kate Yoder and Margot Kimball, left at the end of their two terms and the staff liaison, Marcia Rasmussen, retired.   

“All three made tremendous contributions to West Concord and their legacy will live on as the committee continues their work,” said Committee Chair Carolyn Bottum. “All that they did is just amazing.” That includes the annual West Concord Porchfest, vibrant outdoor murals, annual community celebrations and creative opportunities open to all. 

Each of these cultural district pioneers brought special skills and vision to the process. Here, they share their perspectives: 

Margot Kimball has lived in West Concord for over 30 years and has always seen it as a down-to-earth kind of place. Her creative work continues through Art for All, an organization dedicated to bringing out the artist in everyone. 

“When the committee was formed, I was very happy to have a structured means of working with other people who have a similar interest. Among things that I have worked on, the series of murals in West Concord seems to have had the biggest impact. Their visibility, the number of people and organizations involved in making them, and their cheery appearance have made a substantial contribution to the sense people have of West Concord being a friendly, welcoming community,” Kimball said. “We need to increase that awareness of the importance of the arts and get more funding to make a substantial, ongoing difference.” 

Kate Yoder arrived in Concord from Wisconsin in 1997 with a dream of creating a place for musicians of all ages and abilities to explore the beauty and power of music. She founded the Concord Conservatory of Music in 2005. 

“There is a large arts community in West Concord that, in the past, seemed to be quietly existing. The Cultural District designation and the start of the committee have allowed us to shine a spotlight on a once quiet but vibrant community, attracting more folks to this area.  The arts and unique shops give the West Concord Cultural District a distinct and welcoming vibe. Jennifer Montbach’s idea for Porchfest was brilliant! [It] is a perfect example of the mission of the cultural districts using the arts to be an economic engine for the local business district,” said Yoder.   

Marcia Rasmussen recently retired as director of Planning and Land Management after more than three decades of service. She said she appreciates that bricks and mortar are not the full measure of a community’s quality of life. 

“I was rewarded by the enthusiastic and dedicated West Concord residents working on the committee. So many positive things have happened in West Concord, but I would have to say the 2019 Action Plan was a key accomplishment because it served as a blueprint for moving the cultural district forward. Celebrate and support the creative forces at work in West Concord and work to involve as many people as possible in initiatives and projects. I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to work with members of the cultural district committee — they are an amazing group of people!”  

Mimi Graney, Concord’s economic vitality manager, applauds the progress made with an eye toward protecting West Concord’s unique culture into the future.  

“We’d like to embed arts and culture into infrastructure as much as possible,” she said.