EASTPORT, Maine — ARTSIPELAGO, a comprehensive community revitalization strategy that bets on art as the centerpiece of a comeback in rural Eastern Maine, has been given a significant vote of support in the form of a $250,000 grant from ArtPlace.
The Tides Institute & Museum of Art in Eastport, the organizing force behind the program, will leverage related arts and cultural
initiatives by linking and expanding them in transformative and
revitalizing ways. The group hopes to sharpen the region’s image as
a distinctive destination for residents and travelers. This is the
first ArtPlace award in Maine and one of only two in New England this year.
ARTSIPELAGO transcends two countries and a multitude of islands,
peninsulas, communities and cultures. The project involves the
creation of a new arts and cultural passport, and year round guide to
this international border region, featuring artist studios, cultural
centers, ferries, films, and festivals to local foods, lighthouses, music, parks, theater and more. In addition, arts performances, workshops and demonstrations will be integrated throughout downtowns during the region’s festivals. Funding also will support the establishment of a downtown regional StudioWorks facility linking artist residencies, students and communities.
ArtPlace is a new national collaboration of 11 major national and
regional foundations, six of the nation’s largest banks, and eight federal agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts, to accelerate creative placemaking across the United States. To date, ArtPlace has raised almost $50 million to work alongside federal and local governments to transform communities with strategic investments in the arts.
“With this ArtPlace grant, ARTSIPELAGO can strengthen and transform existing collaborations across a range of sectors and heighten joint art and placemaking activities,” said Hugh French, director of the Tides Institute and Museum of Art. “We have always believed that innovation and critical mass, with art as a central component, can contribute to revitalization efforts in this rural region. Collaborations are the easiest way to build critical mass. The new regional StudioWorks facility with accompanying artist residencies, and art and placemaking activities will add to the innovation mix here. This ArtPlace grant moves vision a big step closer to reality.”
Parts of the Passamaquoddy region, such as Eastport and Lubec,
Maine, have experienced very long term population decline. But the
1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s saw a gradual shift with the arrival of a new wave of artists, initial downtown revitalization efforts, and new economic initiatives including aquaculture and shipping. The shift has continued over the past 20 years with the development of cutting edge tidal energy initiatives and continued downtown revitalization efforts bringing new businesses into Eastport and Lubec. ARTSIPELAGO will build upon and extend this shift toward increased economic viability.
ArtPlace received almost 2,200 letters of inquiry from organizations
seeking a portion of the $15.4 million available for grants in this cycle.
A list of this year’s ArtPlace awards can be found at artplaceamerica.org.