BIDDEFORD COALITION RECEIVES $50,000 GRANT

Pictured left to right: Irvin Serrano, Board Member, Engine; Chase Sheaff, University of New England; Linda Sturdivant, City Theater; Joshua Bodwell, Co-Founder, Engine; Pat Boston, Councilor, City of Biddeford; Stephen Burt, Chair of the Art Department, University of New England; Representative Paulette Beaudoin of Biddeford; Mark Nahorney, City Theater Associates and Assistant Dean for Community Life, University of New England; John Tumiel, Associate Dean, University of New England College of Arts and Sciences; Representative Megan Rochelo of Biddeford and Board President, Heart of Biddeford; Representative Alan Casavant of Biddeford; Tammy Ackerman, Executive Director, Engine; Stephen Abbott, Board President, Engine; John Bubier, Biddeford City Manager; and Donna McNeil, Director, Maine Arts Commission.

December 9, 2010 – The Biddeford coalition of Engine, University of New England, City Theater, and Heart of Biddeford was awarded a $50,000 Creative Communities = Economic Development grant by the Maine Arts Commission today. Biddeford was was of only two communities awarded a grant through the program. Eastport was the other community selected.

Read the Maine Arts Commission Press Release

Engine, University of New England, City Theater, and Heart of Biddeford will use the Creative Economy = Economic Development (CC=ED) grant to expand existing arts and cultural events and initiatives, develop a plan to convert a downtown property into multiuse exhibition space and live/work housing, and work toward several ambitious, long-term objectives, from the establishment of a downtown arts district to the execution of a comprehensive, collaborative effort to promote affordable live/work opportunities for artists and creative entrepreneurs in downtown Biddeford.

The partners are already committed to strengthening, diversifying, and multiplying the artistic and creative assets of our community. In close collaboration with the city’s Planning and Economic Development Department and other local partners—such as Thread, a private Biddeford-based corporation committed to “advancing community through revitalization”—we will take an inclusive, holistic approach to enhancing Biddeford’s existing cultural opportunities, while building new, urgently needed programs and projects that will spur creative industry and bring working artists to our city.

Four long-term objectives will drive the CC=ED project: (1) establish arts-related programming and endeavors as an explicit public value and political priority; (2) enhance the visibility and desirability of the city, while attracting new arts and cultural venues, and tourism; and (3) increase local economic opportunities and tax revenues by nurturing new businesses and organization, launching events and programming, and promoting sustainable creative entrepreneurialism.

QUOTES

“This grant is the next step in creating a vibrant arts community in downtown Biddeford. The main reason our coalition was successful, I believe, was that we were able to engage people from many different avenues who share a common vision for downtown Biddeford. They see the potential and have been willing to work hard to realize that potential. So many communities have figured out that attracting people who are part of the creative economy is good for economic development. People like to live and work where there is a vibrant scene…galleries, restaurants, museums, music halls, shops…this is just the beginning!” —Tammy Ackerman, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Engine

“The vision of Engine is breathing new life into the Biddeford Community. The arts are a key in the economic rebirth of the downtown and the pride of the people of Biddeford. I am excited and proud of the grant that has been awarded to Engine, and I look forward to seeing what their dreams and vision bring to this city.  I hope that their energy and passion unlock the potential that abounds in the bricks, the mortar, and the people of Biddeford!” —Representative Alan Casavant, Biddeford

“This grant is further validation that Biddeford—with its incredible geographic location, architecturally stunning Main Street, and millions of square feet of pristine mill space—is fertile ground to continue growing its creative community. That the Maine Arts Commission chose to look favorably upon our application is not only humbling, but a mandate to effect change. We will move forward guided by our belief that commerce follows culture.” —Joshua Bodwell, Co-Founder of Engine and Executive Director of the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance

“Biddeford’s chances of winning this grant were increased by the groundwork that was done by the Heart of Biddeford with the Orton Family Foundation Grant and its status as a Main Street Maine community. We have a great partnership with Engine, the City Theater and the University of New England and will continue to look for ways to leverage all of our good work toward revitalizing downtown Biddeford.” —Megan Rochelo, President of the Board, Heart of Biddeford

“We were in competition with several other communities across Maine, all of which, in my opinion, are deserving. But we were able to show them that Biddeford has the energy, passion, good ideas, and—above all—drive and determination needed to get the job done. Our goal is to use strategic investments in the arts and creative entrepreneurialism to spearhead a cultural and economic rebirth in downtown Biddeford. And the Maine Arts Commission grant is simply an enormous opportunity to start investing in the kinds of innovative, sustainable, forward-thinking projects that will pay dividends for years to come.” —Stephen Abbott, President of the Board, Engine

“City Theater Associates are pleased to be a part of the consortium that was successful in securing the Maine Arts Commission grant. We thank the Commission for their guidance and direction. We are proud of the arts and culture environment in Biddeford and with this grant we will begin to take the next major step forward.” —Mark Nahorney