PORTSMOUTH, NH – Kennebunk Savings is proud to sponsor an innovative and varied performance series aimed at celebrating diverse voices in seacoast, New Hampshire. The Sol Series, staged by the Seacoast Repertory Theatre and curated by the acclaimed playwright Najee Brown, is the recipient of a $7,500 grant from the bank in support of its mission of representation and inclusion. The Sol Series staged theatrical and musical performances, online and in person, across venues in 2020, and is ramping up for much more in 2021.

“The arts supply us with a different set of tools for examining our world and ourselves,” said Bradford C. Paige, the bank’s President and CEO. “We get a new angle on what we thought was an old issue. We learn to see each other in a different light. We’re excited to support this kind of work, to help share Najee’s particular vision, and to amplify more voices like his.”

Najee Brown, a Brooklyn native who has made his permanent home  on the Seacoast, was originally a visiting artist at the Green Acre Baha’i School in Eliot, Maine—a stay that was  lengthened and complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. “I lost a lot of people to COVID,” Brown said. “And still, 2020 was perhaps the most incredible year of my life. Being here, and being able to tell these stories—being a part of a community and seeing that community actively changing—I got lemons and built a whole lemonade stand with them.”

Under the Sol Series umbrella, Brown has launched town hall discussions, a “Sol Food” series with chef Evan Mallet of The Black Trumpet, and productions of several of his own original plays, including “The Bus Stop,” which examines the impact of incarceration on black families, and “Stokely & Martin” which depicts a real-life encounter between Martin Luther King, Jr. and Stokely Carmichael of the Black Panthers.

“Businesses need to make a commitment to supporting serious, fundamental and foundational change in how we as a society respect, engage and treat all people,” said Paige. “It’s not going to happen overnight, and it’s not going to happen any one way; it will ultimately take years of very intentional planning, action and reinforcement to make a measurable difference. But the arts are a very persuasive and powerful engine for getting that movement started, and then keeping it moving forward.”