Announcing the 2022 IGNITE Arts Business Incubator Cohort

We are thrilled to announce the inaugural IGNITE Arts Business Incubator Cohort: GEM City, Oterra Designs, Biddeford Community Gardens, Maine Music Collectivo, Forging Commons, and The Circular.

These six arts businesses are now involved in an eight week Business Model Canvas development program with the support of our program delivery partners, UMaine Foster Center for Innovation, the Small Business Administration, Heart of Biddeford, and others from March – June 2022.

By the end of this year, Engine’s IGNITE program will drive an estimated $1mil in economic activity in our community. So far more than $125,000 of technical, creative, consulting, and financial support has been leveraged to support and develop these arts businesses in the pilot year of this program. Data from the Arts & Economic Prosperity Study by Americans for the Arts shows that for every $1 invested in arts and culture organizations in Maine, 8 times that is returned right into the local economy, In addition to supporting our small businesses, retailers and restaurants, for every $1 spent by arts and cultural nonprofits, we see a third of that returned as revenue to local governments. This economic impact is in addition to jobs created and related increases in household income.

In addition to increased spending for our local businesses and revenues for the city, we know that IGNITE contributes to the revitalized fabric of Biddeford’s local economy.

2022 Fringe Fest and ArtWalk is the next major collaboration with our IGNITE Cohort, so mark your calendars for August 19th & 20th to meet many of them and learn about their work!

Stay tuned for their stories, community collaborations, and collective impact this cohort is sparking through IGNITE from now through the culmination of the program in the fall of this year!

2022 IGNITE Arts Business Incubator Cohort

Alejandro Graciano | Maine Music Collectivo

MAINE MUSIC COLLECTIVO is an educational music collaborative that is dedicated to promoting the history of African influence in music across Maine. The project is being developed by Alejandro Graciano of Biddeford. Through IGNITE Maine Music Collectivo is developing a business plan and community networking opportunities that can help them grow their goals of regular performances, musical works and cross-cultural educational mechanisms therein. Follow Alejandro Graciano on Instagram @alejandro_graciano_music and Maine Music Collectivo at @maine_music_co.

Photo by Sarah Morrill

THE CIRCULAR is a developing startup directed by Saco resident Nick Schroeder. The Circular will act as a civic hub through an evolving series of stylized arts, performances, discussions, reports, public scenes and other programming. Events will be frequent and inexpensive ($5 whenever possible) to the public, typically lasting under an hour. Programming will also be documented by video, archived and accessible to members virtually through a subscription-based newsletter and website. Follow Nick on Twitter at @n_schroeder.

Holly Culloton | Biddeford Community Gardens

BIDDEFORD COMMUNITY GARDENS, led by Biddeford resident Holly Culloton, is devoted to building and sustaining a vibrant, BIDDEFORD COMMUNITY GARDENS, led by Biddeford resident Holly Culloton, is devoted to building and sustaining a vibrant, healthy, and equitable community through the creation of safe green spaces where residents can grow food in a supportive and educational environment. The spaces created are not just gardens, they are meeting places where the diverse population and cultures in Biddeford come together to exchange knowledge and share experiences. Our green spaces and educational programs support the use of agriculture; and urban/suburban micro-farm entrepreneurship to address issues of hunger and food insecurity in the local community. Through Engine’s IGNITE grant, we are developing a business plan and marketing strategy, which will support our organization’s efforts well into the next decade. Follow on Instagram @biddefordcommunitygardens.

Erin O’Toole | Oterra Designs

OTERRA DESIGNS, founded and run by Erin O’Toole of Biddeford is a small textile manufacturer of unique and expressive products for the mountain and rock climbing markets. Through IGNITE, Oterra will explore a growth strategy that considers long term sustainability goals including a system of managing employees and new value propositions that employ its existing infrastructure. Simultaneously Oterra is exploring funding for advanced manufacturing equipment that can improve her approach to  finished products and production efficacy. Follow on Instagram at @oterra.designs.

Rebecca Cote | Forging Commons

FORGING COMMONS, led by Rebecca Cote of Biddeford is an arts integration collaborative that designs and facilitates creative community inclusive public art experiences for all ages. A primary goal is the creation of vehicles for meaningful civic engagement through arts integration of public spaces in Biddeford and York County. Our programs and projects build a culture of increased sensitivity about place, connection and inclusivity as an integral part of building healthy communities. Through IGNITE Forging Commons will define its business strategy and planning in support of their community based public art and education agenda. Forging Commons partners with non-profits, civic entities and community leaders to further initiatives that aim to create individual and community well being. Follow on Instagram at @forgingcommons.

Genius Black | GEM CITY.
Photo by Junes Thete.

GENIUS BLACK is a music producer, rapper, business entrepreneur and social innovator based in South Portland. GEM CITY  is his brand of diverse humans who are telling a story of today’s culture, and who are all defined by the unmistakably quality of place that is, the Maine Coast. Genius represents a collaborative network of musical talent that works to drive the intersection of arts, culture, quality of place and to tell the stories of the social fabric of our communities. GEM CITY is being honed through IGNITE as an adaptive business model that works to create career paths for the arts workforce through packaged content and digital media campaigns that open up career scale opportunities for talent. Photo by Junes Thete. Follow Genius Black on Instagram at @realgeniusblack.

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