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Art partners seek to kickstart Millers business

  • Musician Daniel Cutler runs the cafe at 16 Bridge Street in Millers Falls where he and partner Molly Weiss have started an ambitious venture that includes the cafe, studio and gallery space and classrooms for artists. Recorder/Trish Crapo

    Musician Daniel Cutler runs the cafe at 16 Bridge Street in Millers Falls where he and partner Molly Weiss have started an ambitious venture that includes the cafe, studio and gallery space and classrooms for artists. Recorder/Trish Crapo

  • Artist Molly Weiss stands in the second floor studio spaces at 16 Bridge Street in Millers Falls. Recorder/Trish Crapo

    Artist Molly Weiss stands in the second floor studio spaces at 16 Bridge Street in Millers Falls. Recorder/Trish Crapo

  • Musician Daniel Cutler runs the cafe at 16 Bridge Street in Millers Falls where he and partner Molly Weiss have started an ambitious venture that includes the cafe, studio and gallery space and classrooms for artists. Recorder/Trish Crapo
  • Artist Molly Weiss stands in the second floor studio spaces at 16 Bridge Street in Millers Falls. Recorder/Trish Crapo

MILLERS FALLS — The attic space of the People’s Bakery on Bridge Street resembles a miniature indoor marketplace, with wooden beams overhead and stalls built into the angles between the floor and peaked roof.

Last Sunday, a few stalls still held pottery, paintings and other evidence of the artists who filled the space for the previous day’s holiday bazaar. Meant to resume Sunday, the second day was called off due to the weekend’s snow storm.

Molly Weiss, Daniel Cutler and the Wickline family, owners of the wholesale organic bakery, hope to establish a studio space for artists-in-residence, art classrooms and a cafe around the existing wholesale organic bakery, and began with the slightly unusual crowdfunding model to jump-start that plan.

“I’ve been an art teacher and a studio artist in Manhattan, Dan’s a musician, and we all have these side jobs that kind of piece together our basics — rents and all that kind of stuff,” Weiss said. “Beyond that, starting a business and studios and all those things that we needed, suggest that sort of help in funding from the community, from friends, from our family.”

Cutler, 29, is a recent Millers Falls arrival, introduced to the village while working as an assistant on the set of the Hollywood movie “The Judge,” that filmed here this summer.

Weiss, also 29, divides her time between Millers Falls, New York and Northampton. In Northampton, she is in the process of opening her own showroom and gallery, Knock Knock, by Thornes Marketplace on Main Street.

“Basically we’re putting this together, pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We need help. We don’t come from money, we don’t have our own soft capital for an arts space like this,” Cutler said.

The plan is for a studio or studios for visiting artists, to be managed by Weiss, a cafe on the ground floor to be managed by Cutler, and other possibilities including art classroom space.

Crowdfunding deadline

Their campaign on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter.com seeks $30,000 by Wednesday, money that would go toward equipment, signs, lighting and other miscellaneous costs.

Kickstarter and similar crowdfunding sites gather pledges from multiple donors. Pledges are only collected if the project’s fundraising goal is reached and correspond to various rewards if the project becomes a reality.

“We’ve seen it be successful, we both know people who have had successful projects,” Cutler said. “It just seemed like a great way to network and spread the word and hopefully raise the money that we need.”

Success seems unlikely in this case, with the Christmas deadline looming, but the two say the plan stays regardless. The Kickstarter money would let them get the project’s diverse components off the ground immediately, but without it they’ll keep chipping away; the cafe counter is already in place downstairs and art is under way in the attic.

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