In 1994, a group of Folsom residents interested in the performing arts formed the first Board of Directors of a fledgling concert association. Out of their interest and willingness to serve their community has grown the Folsom Concert Association (FCA, formerly FLCCA). Today, in partnership with Live on Stage of Nashville, TN, the FCA continues its dedication to bringing concerts of the highest quality to the greater Folsom area. In addition to the artists from Live on Stage, the FCA contracts with local talent to provide a diversified genre of music for their patrons and guests.
The history of Community Concerts parallels in many ways that of the past century. In the 1920's, America underwent rapid change and modernization, and the performing arts were no exception. While Chautauqua tours, traveling minstrel shows, and vaudeville had created a national appetite for live performances, they were disappearing from the scene. There was a demand for concerts, but the question was how to find a new way to cover their cost.
In 1927, an idea destined to revolutionize the performing arts in America, sprang up simultaneously in the Great lakes region, and in several Eastern states. Instead of struggling to make up deficits after the fact, people thought, why not raise some money first and then hire the artists? It was a plan that worked. Audiences, it seemed were willing to spend a modest sum in advance for a season of three or four concerts, even if they didn't know what the concerts were going to be. This principle of raising funds to secure a season prior to contracting is Community Concerts' “magic ingredient”. It insured the success of the humble experiments that grew first into the organized audience plan, and ultimately into Community Concerts, the largest, most enduring network of performing arts presenters that has ever existed.
The organized audience idea caught fire and spread, fostering cultural development on an unprecedented scale. Families, who had been indifferent to “highbrow” single concerts, were attracted to a whole season with varied offerings at a reasonable price. People, who had never been to a concert before, were being invited to attend by people they knew - ordinary folks who lived in their neighborhood, went to their church, and whose children attended school with their children. The early quality performances featured artists including Vladimir Horowitz, Lawrence Tibbett, Jascha Heifetz and Yehudi Menuhin. A new appreciation for the performing arts, deeply rooted in community spirit, was being nurtured by the organized audience movement across North America, contributing to the nationwide growth of local symphonies, theaters and dance companies.
Although the stock market crash of 1929 threatened this brave experiment in the arts, Community Concerts continued to grow from 42 Community Concert Associations at the start of the Depression to 335 by 1940. People were determined that economic deprivation would not deprive them of beauty and meaning in their lives. Minutes from Association meetings held in Dust Bowl towns refer to families who could not afford the fifty cents to attend the concerts, and were being carried by loans from neighbors or by the Association itself. Concerts were regarded as more than mere entertainment; they were a lifeline to humanity and normalcy.
After World War II, Community Concerts expanded rapidly. Between 1945 and 1950, the total number of Community Associations rose from 330 to an all time high of 1,008. Audiences enjoyed the talents of performers like Rudolph Serkin, Paul Robeson, and the Von Trapp Family Singers. Community Concert Associations were formed in Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and even, briefly, South Africa.
Since then, Community Concerts has continued to adapt to change, and has successfully weathered many challenges. Faced with the advent of television, competing performing arts presenters, and changing lifestyles, the total number of Associations has declined from the remarkable figures of the early 1950's. However, Community Concerts remain a vital force in the arts world today with more than 400 affiliate Associations. Community Concerts programs have contained artists including Van Cliburn, Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops, the Alvin Ailey Dance Troupe, the London Symphony orchestra with Andre Previn, Claudio Arrau, Leontyne Price, and a wide and impressive variety of others. The concerts continue to be of the highest quality, a vital mix of major stars and performers still on their way to prominence.
The traditional organized audience Associations remain at the heart of Community Concerts' business, but now small colleges, private schools, planned communities, and other interested presenters are also invited to participate.