BANGOR, Maine — The downtown artists, museum curators, gallery owners, shopkeepers and others who have put together recent art walks have taken a step toward broadening their reach and expanding their plans.
The Downtown Bangor Arts Collaborative, the group which has organized the art walks for the past 1½ years, has become a nonprofit cultural organization in the state of Maine, which means the group will be able to fundraise, apply for grants and seek donations.
The collaborative has its approval from the state, said Liz Grandmaison, a Bangor-based fine-art photographer who is serving as the first chair of the organization’s newly created board of directors, and intends to file its 501(c)(3) application, by which the Internal Revenue Service recognizes an organization’s nonprofit status.
“This will allow us to fund the ideas we have in store, not only for educational programming but expanding the reach of the art walk and frequency in the future,” Grandmaison said.
The art walks, which have been held quarterly since March 2009, have each drawn hundreds of people to downtown Bangor, where galleries stay open late, shops and stores host guest artists, and other businesses set up displays in their public areas.
Grandmaison’s rough estimate of attendance at recent art walks was around 500 people.
Coming art walks are scheduled for Sept. 17 and Nov. 19, with previous 2010 events held March 19 and June 18. Grandmaison said the collaborative could add another summer date in the future.
The art walks have grown from a few studios on Central Street and other locations around downtown Bangor, including the University of Maine Museum of Art, to last Friday’s 21 spots with 35 individual artists.
“The more popular the art walks have become, the more we’ve recognized there’s really a demand for this activity in the community,” said Grandmaison, a graphic designer and fine-art photographer who has shown her own work in previous art walks.
In addition to adding another art walk date, Grandmaison said, the collaborative would like to do more to include children and high school-age kids.
“I know there is some tremendous talent [at the high school level], not only in visual but literary arts,” she said. “One of the keys to us retaining young people in our community is to show them they’re part of the community and not just the school system. If they can feel like they have some sort of emotional investment, that could keep them here.
“Every place was seeing a very steady flow of people,” Grandmaison said of the June 18 event. “It wasn’t as elbow-to-elbow as we had been seeing [in previous art walks] but I think we’re more spread out and people had time to pace themselves.”
Joining Grandmaison as board officers are vice chair Page Eastman, a nature photographer; secretary Sally Gilbert, a painter who was an early voice in starting the collaborative; and treasurer Jodi Clayton, who is the founder and owner of One Lupine Fiber Arts, located on Park Street.
Other board members of the newly created nonprofit are University of Maine Museum of art director and curator George Kinghorn, Charles Inn owner and operator Connie Boivin, and writer-photographer Cheryl Daigle.
For more information, go to www.downtownartscollaborative.org.