3 - Artwork on display at the Millinocket Library. Credit: Courtesy of Samantha Cote

By Josh Deakin

Ktaadn Arts has grown significantly since their early beginnings in 2019. The organization had to regroup quickly after realizing that their initial plans would require too great a deal of time, money and manpower to open their doors. The group bounced back, finding a space in the basement of DesignLab in downtown Millinocket. 

Ktaadn Arts mission is to serve as a regional resource for artistic support and creative engagement, and members truly believe in that goal, explained leaders Samantha Cote and Kimberley Lyons. Their vision is to be part of creating more vibrant and healthy communities in the Katahdin region. 

Since opening, they’ve hosted Paint and Sip sessions, along with art classes for children and weekly “Open Studio” sessions for folks to utilize the space, materials and creative connections to boost creative engagement, explained Cote and Lyons. Attendance has grown and even held steady during the summer and fall with outdoor sessions for social distancing.

The community responded warmly to their opening. Along with moral support, locals have been donating art supplies to help the organization. 

The group was offered the opportunity to put an exhibit at the open house for a newly relocated business, Omega Benefit Strategies, which gave them some additional exposure, said Cote and Lyons. They’ve also joined the Katahdin Chamber of Commerce to further expand and build meaningful connections and partnerships in the communities, and to support arts of all kinds in the Katahdin region.

Ktaadn Arts began first by doing a monthly free arts and craft project at the Millinocket Memorial Library. The folks at the Library were extremely supportive, said Cote and Lyons, and they have continued to work together, including a revolving art exhibit in the newly renovated library. 

Cote and Lyons believe that creativity can change the world, but more importantly, creativity can change communities. Given the response of the Katahdin region, they believe the communities also understand the great importance of art.

COVID-19 created a slight setback with the organization’s expansion efforts, but the group continues to work through the challenges, finding a way to abide by CDC guidelines, keep everyone safe and healthy, and still be able to open. Cote and Lyons have discussed having Open Studio hours twice a week, as well as being open every other Saturday for folks to come in, look around and be part of Ktaadn Arts.

The organization continues to look toward the future with possibilities for expansion and growth. Cote and Lyons say they have always wanted to share their passion as artists, makers and creatives, through exhibits, classes, events and sharing their gifts with others. They see one of their bigger goals as building their membership and welcoming more artists to tag along and join their mission. Ktaadn Arts hopes to be able to provide scholarship programs for students in the Katahdin region in an effort to give back to the community. 

Anyone who is interested in joining Ktaadn Arts or wishes to learn more about the growing organization can check out their newly developed website at KtaadnArtsEducation.org or contact Samantha Cote and Kimberley Lyons at info@ktaadnartseducation.org for more information.

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