At Engine, our mission is to connect and inspire our community through art, design, and education.
Engine envisions a community and economy in which art, design, and education are valued, integrated, and celebrated.
Founded on the belief that artistic expression and creative vibrancy are the gateways to cultural, social, and economic revitalization, Engine is committed to designing, launching, and promoting community-based arts programming. Engine aspires to be a driver of artistic expression, creative industry, cultural vitality, community connections, and socially responsible practices. Engine was conceived of and founded by Tammy Ackerman, Joshua Bodwell, and Stephen Abbott in 2010 and received its 501(c)3 status in December of 2010.
In 2008-2009, Engine was a virtual space and created a presence by facilitating exhibitions such as Amy Stacey Curtis’ Time biennial and the Point of Connection in the North Dam Mill and the monthly arts event, the Biddeford ArtWalk.
In 2010, Engine, along with a consortium of partners including the Heart of Biddeford, the City Theater, and the University of New England, was the recipient of the first Creative Communities=Economic Development grant from the Maine Arts Commission. Part of that grant was to be used to secure a physical location on Main Street.
In 2011, while researching viable storefronts, Engine developed a relationship with Bob and Mary-Kate Reny, whose family trust still owned a vacant 20,000 square foot white marble faced building on lower Main Street. The Renys sold the vacant building–referred to as the Marble Block–to Engine for $1 in 2011, in support of Engine’s mission to create a space for the arts on Main Street. The building was no occupiable at the time due to years of vacancy and deterioration, so Engine opened its first venue in October 2012 at 265 Main Street in the freshly renovated Potter’s Building. Engine was the first tenant in the building and was later joined by Elements Books Coffee Beer which has become a cornerstone of the downtown community.
In 2015, Engine moved three blocks down Main Street to 128 Main, the Polakewich Building, into a larger space with lower overhead and directly across from the building Engine owns and aspires to, the Marble Block, at 129 Main Street.
Engine was forced to move for a third time due to a heating-up real estate market, and now occupies a former bank building at 163 Main Street since October 2019. The dream of the Marble Block is still alive (visit http://www.themarbleblock.org).
In addition to maintaining its gallery, retail, events, darkroom, and maker spaces, Engine added 12 affordable artist studios in our current location.
An exciting future project, IGNITE incubator, hopes to help designer/artist entrepreneurs launch into creative, sustainable businesses with mentoring through the University of Maine Foster Center for Student Innovation as well as with a team of advisors working in the entrepreneurial community.
Engine’s mission and goals revolve around helping the community see arts and culture as a viable form of economic development. Other Maine communities—such as Eastport, Rockland, and of course, Portland—have greatly benefited from attracting artists and creative individuals who help create and sustain an exciting environment, in the process raising the quality of life and attracting both new residents and businesses in the form of actual bricks and mortar stores and in the form of cultural tourist dollars.
Engine is not exclusive to art enthusiasts; we believe art should be inclusive, not exclusive. We welcome the involvement of anyone who believes that art and culture are important to communities.
Engine is building on the work of the City Theater and the Heart of Biddeford, and offering support and assistance to various cultural groups. We are offering classes to the local community, especially youth, which will help expand or discover their own creative thinking and expose them to career paths that may not have been apparent.
In the future, Engine will be located in the Marble Block.
We believe that commerce follows culture.
That art should integrate, not alienate.
And that art, in its fullest expression, not only impacts individuals but transforms communities.
Engine is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization (effective December 2010) and incorporated in the State of Maine.
Engine’s Financial Statements, Policies, IRS 990 provided upon request.