The Maine Arts Commission aims to develop stronger ties between cultural, business and governmental sectors with the launch of a new Community Arts grant. Aptly named Creative Communities = Economic Development (CCED), the grant has a maximum award of $50,000 and is poised to support cultural and economic development efforts that will lead to real change in Maine’s communities.
“This grant is an exciting opportunity for the various sectors in the community to strengthen partnerships and build on what has already been achieved,” said Keith Ludden, Community Arts Associate for the Maine Arts Commission. “It’s a chance to think big, and effect real change in the community.”

Maine’s distinct quality of place is its primary economic asset and Maine’s rich artistic and cultural heritage has contributed significantly to that quality of place, added Maine Arts Commission Assistant Director Alison Ferris.

Artists such as Thomas Cole and Fredrich Church visited Maine in the 1840s and 1850s to draw and paint land and seascapes. On viewing these and other artists’ depictions of Maine’s environs, their urban patrons wanted to see the spectacular scenery for themselves. Artists and art-lovers have been visiting if not settling in Maine ever since and the state’s vibrant art museums, galleries, schools and other art-related business are evidence of it. In fact, today more than 8 percent of Maine’s workforce — more than 68,000 people — are creative workers and they form an important part of Maine’s vibrant communities.

The Maine Arts Commission is offering this new grant program to activate the concept that Maine’s quality of place is an economic asset. The CCED grant is designed to function locally to meaningfully support dialogue and partnership between municipalities and the cultural sector regarding the economic development of their communities. The grant will provide the cultural sector with significant funds to contribute to mutually agreed upon plans and initiatives that stimulate the local economy, strengthen the role of arts and culture and enhance their community’s quality of place.

Two $50,000 CCED grants will be awarded to Maine communities in the fall of 2010. They will be awarded to communities that are well positioned to leverage funds from such sources as the Orton Foundation, Maine Community Foundation or Community Development Bloc Grants. Candidate communities should also have good working relationships established between cultural, business and municipal sectors.

The application process requires a letter of intent that must be submitted to the Maine Arts Commission by a March 8 deadline. Interested applicants should contact Ludden at 287-2713 or keith.ludden@maine.gov to discuss their potential project prior to submitting any materials. The guidelines for the Creative Communities = Economic Development grant can be found on the Maine Arts Commission’s Web site, MaineArts.com.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to dernest@villagesoup.com.