A forum on the future role of the visual arts in Lincoln County specifically, and in other Maine communities generally, will be held Tuesday, Oct. 8, at noon at the downtown Lincoln Theater. The program is jointly sponsored by Lincoln Theater, River Arts and the Damariscotta-Newcastle Rotary.

The three distinguished panelists to lead the discussion are: Mark Bessire, Director of the Portland Museum of Art; Christopher Brownawell, Director of the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland; and Suzette McAvoy, Director of the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockport. Questions for inclusion in this interactive discussion are encouraged and can be sent to johnvs@tidewater.net.

Bessire became PMA director in 2009. Previously, he was director of the Bates College Museum of Art, where he also was chairman of the Committee on Public Art.

Brownawell joined the Farnsworth as director in 2010. He has spent the first few years strengthening the institution's financial position, guiding the museum through a $9 million dollar endowment campaign and rebranding effort. This year, he guided the museum through a complete reinstallation of the collection and restoration of the Homestead house.

McAvoy has served as director and curator of CMCA since 2010. She previously served as chief curator of the Farnsworth Art Museum and has more than 30 years’ experience in the art and museum field. She has lectured and written extensively on the art and artists of Maine.

The thrust to organize the forum came from a recent Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission survey of arts and culture. It revealed some startling numbers, one of which was that $15.5 million in revenue was earned by arts and cultural industries in the county in 2012; however, a majority of such businesses experienced a downturn in 2012. Another impetus is the recent push by some in congress to drastically cut government support of the arts and humanities.

The program is free and open to the public. For more information, call John Van Siclen at 563-3254.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.