Belfast and Waterville receive $50,000 each for ME creative economy

By Ramona du Houx - December 21st, 2011

The Maine Arts Commission announced that the cities of Belfast and Waterville will each receive grants of $50,000 in order to effect community revitalization in their region. The grants, designed to support dialogue and partnership between municipalities, business and the cultural sector regarding economic development, have been awarded through the Maine Arts Commission’s Creative Communities = Economic Development Grant (CCED).

The CCED grant fosters meaningfully support, dialogue and partnerships between municipalities and the cultural sector. It provides the cultural sector with significant funds to contribute to mutually agreed upon plans and initiatives that stimulate the local economy, provide jobs, strengthen the role of arts and culture, and enhance a community’s quality of place.

The Belfast Creative Coalition will use the grant funding to to bring together arts, cultural partners and economic partners to brand and market the greater Belfast community as a place to be for vibrant arts, culture and local foods.

The coalition seeks to hire an administrative coordinator who will be responsible for centralizing community resources and maximizing the synergy within the region in order to strategically allocate resources. The administrator will work on developing a regional cultural events calendar, an interactive website, the coordination of programming and events, consistent regional marketing and branding, fundraising, and a whole host of additional tasks to ensure cultural and economic vibrancy in the area.

“Over the last twenty years, the growth of cultural activities in our area has been amazing, but with very little coordination,” said Waterfall Arts Programming Director, Martha Piscuskas. “Waterfall Arts, The City of Belfast, Our Town Belfast and many other organizations and individuals believe the time is right to take our very active creative sector to the next level. Instead of everyone fending for themselves, we’ll coordinate schedules, share resources, collaborate on promotions and work strategically to sustain our vibrant community into the next several decades.”

In Waterville the CCED Grant will support the city’s new Converge & Create brand through asset based marketing, incentives for artist, creative business attraction, and new cooperative programming. Waterville Main Street, working together with the City of Waterville, the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, the Colby College Museum of Art, the Waterville Public Library, and the Waterville Arts Council have come together to oversee the design and implementation of a brand-integrated, comprehensive,coordinated marketing strategy for Waterville’s community-wide arts and cultural assets.

Projects in Waterville will include the marketing of existing cultural assets, the development of a pilot cooperative downtown arts venue and the development of incentives for recruiting artists and creative businesses to Downtown Waterville.

“Waterville is poised to become a destination for arts and creative opportunities in Maine, and the support of the CCED grant will help us to realize these exciting goals,” said Sharon Corwin, director and chief curator of Colby College Museum of Art. “Enthusiasm and support from members throughout our community, including the Colby College Museum of Art, is exceptionally strong and speaks to a shared vision for Waterville as leader in the state for creative communities. We are thrilled that Waterville has been selected to receive this important support.”

Belfast and Waterville clearly demonstrated to a panel of experts that they were at a point where their communities are clearly on a path toward economic recovery and growth. Both communities exhibited a clear understanding of the importance arts and culture in that equation. The Maine Arts Commission will be working closely with both communities over the next year to monitor and assist with the implementation of the goals of the grant.

The Maine Arts Commission’s CCED Grants are awarded annually and delivered to two or more nonprofit cultural organizations within a geographic community or region. Applications are sought from communities/regions with a strong commitment to cross-sector collaboration that seeks to strengthen the cultural assets of their community. Full details of this and other grant programs and services that serve Maine’s communities can be found on the web pages of MaineArts.com.