CMCA wins Governor’s Award for Tourism Excellence

Apr 13, 2018
Photo by: Dagney C. Ernest The Center for Maine Contemporary Art opened its new location in Rockland in 2016. Maine artist Jonathan Borofsky, far right, had work inside and out; and his striking “Digital Man” steel sculpture still towers over the courtyard.

Rockland — The Center for Maine Contemporary Art has won the 2018 Governor’s Award for Tourism Excellence, the highest honor given by the Maine Office of Tourism. Received at the tourism industry’s annual awards luncheon April 4 in Portland, the award recognizes CMCA’s contributions to the statewide economy and its efforts to create an exceptional year-round experience for its visitors.

“This is an incredible honor,” said Suzette McAvoy, CMCA’s executive director. “We are thrilled to see CMCA and the arts in Maine recognized for their important role in Maine’s cultural economy. We set out to create an extraordinary experience in Rockland — this award recognizes that achievement.”

Speaking to an overflowing reception inside the State of Maine Ballroom at the Holiday Inn by the Bay, Steve Lyons, director of the Office of Tourism reiterated CMCA’s transformation.

“The Center for Maine Contemporary Art’s dedication to celebrating Maine’s present day cultural assets has taken them from a small local facility to an exciting global platform for Maine’s arts community, and a major draw for cultural tourism in our state,” he said.

Among the crowd was Gordon Page, director of Rockland Main Street, echoed Lyons’ praise, saying CMCA “demonstrates daily a remarkable ability to impact tourism in a proactive manner” and that it is “an important part of the ongoing revitalization of our City.”

Discussing CMCA’s role in the local economy, CMCA Director of Development and Marketing Sam Vail praised the $35 million impact that has been attributed to the organization. When people visit CMCA, the impact ripples outward, he said, because they shop downtown, run errands, grab a meal “or all of the above.” Vail emphasized the importance of CMCA being a destination for locals, as well as tourists.

“We strive to add value to people’s lives — year round. That’s how we serve as a real community asset,” he said.

CMCA accepts the tourism award at an important juncture for how the arts are viewed in Maine’s economy. As the state continues to grapple with the challenge of attracting a new generation of workers, business leaders have begun to engage the arts community as a resource.

According to Julie A. Richard, executive director of the Maine Arts Commission, "Maine’s arts and cultural sector is our best weapon for building a 21st century economy, one that retains young people and attracts creatives, innovators and investment to our state.”

Current estimates show 11,000 individuals hold creative occupations in 2,582 arts-related businesses across the state. In addition, recent studies link the impact of the art nonprofit industry alone to a $150.5 million influx into the state’s economy. The Governor’s Award represents the growing respect people have for Maine’s artists, said Vail, who credits the legacy and skill of Maine artists for helping CMCA gain national attention. For more information about CMCA, visit

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

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