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  • NEA Chairman Chu visits Maine and tours with Congresswoman Pingree

    Over three days of events, Chairman saw many examples of the arts at work in Maine NEA Chairman Chu and Congresswoman Pingree meeting with volunteers, staff, and young writers at The Telling Room. Courtesy photo

    By Ramona du Houx

    National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu spent  three-days in Maine touring with Congresswoman Chellie Pingree visiting artisans and art organizations in Maine.

    “We’re very lucky that Chairman Chu came to see Maine’s thriving arts community up close. Having one of the country’s most critical arts supporters here was a tremendous opportunity for the state,” said Pingree.  “I think Chairman Chu not only got a sense of the impact our state has had on artists in the past, but saw many innovative ways in which that legacy is being carried on today. In Maine, the arts are inspiring students, helping our veterans, driving the creative economy, and bringing people back to our Main Streets.  Chairman Chu got to see a snapshot of that and I so appreciate that she took the time to do so.”

    Pingree joined Chu for two days, starting with a visit to The Telling Room in Portland on August 10th.  There, they met with a student who participated in the Young Writers and Leaders Program—which works with refugee and immigrant students to increase their English proficiency and capture their personal stories—as well as two young writers who worked with published authors through a fellowship program to write their own books.

    Also on Monday, they met with a group of veterans who are participating in the All the Way Home project to support their transition back to civilian life by allowing them to collaborate with artists to share their stories. 

    They wrapped up Monday’s events with a tour of the Portland Museum of Art and a town hall forum attended by nearly a hundred members of Maine’s arts community.

    On Tuesday, Pingree joined Chu for a visit to Railroad Square Cinema in Waterville, where they learned about the Maine International Film Festival, which drew several international directors and nearly a thousand attendees in July.  They also heard from Waterville Creates—a unique partnership that support the arts and economic development in Waterville.

    Many of the organizations Chu visited had won grants from the NEA.

    NEA Chairman Chu and Congresswoman Pingree on a tour of the Portland Museum of Art with Maine Arts Commission Executive Director Julie Richard, Mayor Michael Brennan, and PMA Director Mark Bessire

    Chu went on to make visits to the Bates College Museum of Art and the Somali Bantu Community Association in Lewiston on August 11th. The following day she visited Brunswick stopping at Spindleworks, the Bowdoin International Music Festival, and the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.  

    Pingree is a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, which oversees funding for the NEA.  Since joining the committee she has fought the protect funding for the agency, which supports numerous projects in Maine that make art accessible to more Mainers while boosting the economy.

    The Lewiston town hall forum with (left to right) Richard, Chu, and Pingree.