Staff Highlights: Sydney Bilodeau

Today’s post is essentially a love letter to the arts, written by my fellow Marketeer, Sydney Bilodeau. Sydney is our Designer & Email Marketing Manager, so she’s the magician behind our weekly enews. And while you might have seen her photographing a show, she definitely saw you dancing along!

How did you find your way to the Hall?
I was born and raised in Portsmouth and I’ve always known I’d work in the arts in some capacity. When I graduated from UNH, I eventually found my way to Portsmouth Music and Arts Center, first as their receptionist and then as their marketing coordinator. I did a lot of designing, writing, and photography, which was an integral creative outlet. Being around music and art every day was a joy. My ability to learn and grow in that environment was an incredibly special time in my early twenties. 

When I felt ready to move on, there was an opening here at the Hall..and well, the rest is history! I’m still around art and music every day, albeit in a different capacity, and I’m eternally grateful to be immersed in an environment like this daily. Insanely talented folks both work here and pass through our theaters regularly. I’m very lucky to be surrounded by such creative minds!

We often see you with a camera in hand. Can you tell us more about what photography means to you?
Photography is a way to slow down and look at the world differently. We all live such fast-paced lives and can miss those precious in-between moments that we need to savor—the happy, the sad, the awkward, all of it. Photography helps me find those fragmented pieces of our daily lives and hang onto them. 

My background in film photography has given me a deep appreciation for the process, developing your film, going through your negatives, and then bringing those photos to life is magical. I worked in the photo department all through college, and was the Photo Fellow my senior year—I had my own darkroom! I cherish that time of being able to create and think about art 24/7.

Now, my life is much more digital. Actually shooting events is fast-paced and exciting, but I still love the sorting and developing process post-event. It’s exciting to sit down and edit—to feel the energy of each moment again and again.

You have a history of working for the arts, what importance do the arts have on the community?
Oh boy, I could write an entire essay on this. The arts are imperative to the community and provide so much wealth (both literal, cultural, and educational) to everything they touch.

On a personal level, I’ve done band, percussion ensemble, improv, theater, choir—anything I could get my hands on. High school band (shout out to PHS’s Mr. Gagnon and Mr. Cirillo) in particular solidified so many traits within me: how to work together with a team to make something great, responsibility for yourself within that team, time management, understanding the benefits of delayed gratification and hard work, how to celebrate successes and failures. I could go on!

On a community level, the arts bring the people together like no other and provide a community spark. No matter the medium, whether it’s a concert, stand up comic, an art show—folks of all different backgrounds congregate together over shared interests and let conversations and ideas flourish. 

I’m a firm believer that the arts are in *everything*—the scientist who uses creative problem solving, the med school student who hand draws diagrams of the body, the stylist cutting your hair, the architect imagining grand buildings, the proofreaders and the book designers, the products we use every day that had to be dreamed up and created, and more. I hope we can all connect a little more with our inner creativity on a daily basis. 

As a local, what’s your Portsmouth pro-tip?
I’m a stubborn “I’ll never park directly downtown” kind of person. Portsmouth is incredibly walkable and although things seem far on a map, everything is so close. Do yourself a favor and park at the Foundry Garage, or a little on the outskirts of the immediate downtown area and enjoy a nice walk in! Also, I appreciate how a vast majority of the businesses downtown are locally owned. Often when you shop in town, you can speak directly to the owner. I love hearing their stories. There aren’t too many chains in our little city and that is beautiful. Oh! And always make a dinner reservation before a show. Always.

What has been your hands-down favorite show?!
Brittany! I can’t answer this. This interview has turned into my dissertation about the arts! I love every show for different reasons. Anytime I get to be behind the camera during an event is a true joy. Growing up I wanted to be a musician and being able to photograph concerts is a special blend of both the musical and visual arts that I love. I will say recently, Galactic and Trombone Shorty were incredible. The energy those artists brought—and in turn the energy the audience brought—was so electric. I’m also a huge comedy nerd so seeing comedians Mike Birbiglia, Maria Bamford, and Marc Maron have been big highlights of mine. Also Malcolm Gladwell? Nella in the Loft? Every show I’ve been to? This is an unanswerable question! I just love being in the Historic Theater. The big energy in the house is unparalleled.

To check out more of Sydney’s photography, you can find her website here or on Instagram.