Dear Friends of Engine,
As we traverse the halfway mark of 2022, we are proud to share how Engine is delivering on its mission to inspire and connect our community through art, design, and education.
In reflecting on our past and charting the next leg of our journey, I am struck by my experiences observing this community. Here in Biddeford, there is a deep connection to history. Folks are tied to the great wisdom of those who came before us, and carry a sense of responsibility to continue the work to make this community better together.
In this spirit, our work this year has focused on bringing together diverse perspectives in artist-led programs that build our creative skills and nurture our civic imagination. Imagination is essential to design a future together that is more just, more compassionate, and more creative. In this way, I hope Engine’s work can provide meaningful opportunities to make sense of this social, political, and environmental moment, and be moved to take right action in the world. Many hands make light work, so we have focused on new partnerships that continue to catalyze the economic and community development Engine is known for, and help us bring new transformations to life, powered by Engine. We are:
- ARTIST DRIVEN: Supporting the work of more than 175 local artists through collaborative efforts like our annual egalitarian art show, RUMPUS, co-hosted by newly formed art collective HYDRA; our partnership with the Biddeford Schools and Coastal Healthy Communities to provide much needed youth exhibition space; and opening 18 affordable artist studios within the supportive environment of Engine’s professional and technical expertise.
- YOUTH INSPIRED: Educating youth and connecting families through hands-on experiential learning experiences that integrate the arts with STEM through the Compass Project, transforming materials into boats that bring kids into our landscapes and public parks to play an important part of placemaking. In June, we launched five boats into the Saco River and saw kids transformed by their experiences.
- CATALYZING ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Received notice that our inaugural IGNITE Arts Business Incubator was included in Senator Angus King’s Senate Appropriations request, confirming how important arts and culture are to vibrant economies and healthy communities. We have generated an estimated $1 MILLION of economic activity in Biddeford through IGNITE supporting a cohort of six diverse artists and arts businesses in the first phase of the program.
- HOSTING ESSENTIAL COMMUNITY CONVERSATIONS: Presented artist and climate scientist Jill Pelto, together with the City of Biddeford’s Climate Task Force, with support from York County Community Action, in a public interactive art activity as a way to wrestle with complex issues like climate change and learn alongside our neighbors to dream new solutions. The Biddeford Language Exchange group used this gathering as an opportunity to connect and learn about their community and ways we can make change across linguistic and cultural differences.
For the remainder of this year we are:
- Committed to necessary diversity, equity, and inclusion work, led by outside expertise to guide our comprehensive DEI and strategic planning.
- Bringing to life programming focused on creative placemaking, a top priority expressed in the City of Biddeford Cultural Plan. As part of this work, Engine will complete a National Endowment for the Arts and Maine Arts Commission-funded project, “Biddeford Blooms: Community Weaving Project,” which has already connected hundreds of families with artists to vision our future together.
- Hosting a series of free public art engagements, including an aerial dance performance by BANDALOOP funded in part by a grant from the National Dance Project, hosting the annual Fringe Fest August 19, and some exciting events in the fall.
Your support in kind words, connecting us with new resources and opportunities, and showing up to be in community together is fundamental to our existence. As we knit art back into the fabric of our life together, your participation is what inspires our work to continue. Your continued support will help us continue to make the most impact, cultivating stronger, more diverse, and inclusive programs.
There are many ways to give and support Engine’s mission, what propels you? Gifts of time, money, expertise, and more are welcome. Learn more about ways to give at https://www.feedtheengine.org/support/.
Your support is truly what fuels our mission, and drives our passion for connecting and inspiring this community through art, design, and education. I look forward to getting creative at one of our free public events, made possible by the support of folks like you, or showing you around Engine’s Compass workshop for youth or our downtown arts center soon!
Jess Muise, Executive Director