Try searching in CreativeGround, and you’ll find that Maine has 5,934 profiles (as of Nov 29, 2022). Over three hundred of them are Galleries and Exhibition Spaces. There are also 70 venues available for rent or use.
Ryan Leighton is the Communications Director at the Maine Arts Commission. At our Public Launch Kickoff Event in September he appreciated the “blood, sweat, and tears” it took to get CreativeGround rebuilt. He explained that they are an independent state agency that together with six other agencies comprises the Cultural Affairs Council in Maine. What they have in the works is a plan to integrate the engine of CreativeGround into their own website.
Leighton says this will be a “huge improvement” over Maine’s current teaching artists roster, which is intended to help match up artists who travel and do residencies with schools, libraries, and other programs. Created in HTML and subject to numerous add-ons over the years, the current state is “sprawling,” and serious updates are needed. The beauty of CreativeGround as a solution, according to him, “is that it’s self-populating. People can update it themselves, and the results offer so much function and flexibility.”
The Maine Arts Commission anticipates greater enthusiasm from teaching artists wanting to be part of the roster, once it transitions to being powered by CreativeGround. They called it “lovely and robust.” We happen to agree!
Martha Piscuskas, one of Maine Arts Commission’s Program Directors, invited collaborating artists Gretchen Berg and Laurie Downey to be part of the presentation at our Kickoff. For about twenty years, these two have been leading an integrated arts project for the mostly rural public schools in Maine. It’s called the Local Stories Project. See their profiles here: Discover – CreativeGround
The Local Stories Project helps teachers partner with local experts and historical societies in order to research their town’s history. Once that initial research is complete, the artists come in for a residency. A permanent mural and a physical performance piece are created from the students’ project journals. The process culminates with what Downey calls “a big, fabulous unveiling” and community celebration.
Of course, in Maine and across New England and our whole country, Covid took its toll on artist residencies as well as general quality of life. Happily, when it was time to get back to in-person, live, programs, Bucksport Middle School contacted Downey and Berg directly from their listing in CreativeGround and hired them to work with sixth graders to explore and document the impact of the ongoing Covid pandemic on their personal lives, their schools and their community in a multi-paneled mural.
“Students don’t just study art, they become artists. They don’t study history, they become historians.” says Gretchen Berg in a video about their multidisciplinary, hands-on learning process. “it assures both rigor and pleasure.”
You can watch the whole video here: The Local Stories Project on Vimeo
Every teaching artist in Maine as well as in other New England states can have this same opportunity to be contacted and hired through CreativeGround. Get your profiles up-to-date now, so that when your state-based agency integrates our site in theirs, you’ll be all set and ready to be seen!
Feeling stuck or need some guidance? You may want to watch our webinar on How to Use CreativeGround as a Teaching Artist. It’s on this page, along with others: Webinar Recordings – CreativeGround
Prefer to talk things through? No problem! Schedule some time during our regular Office Hours to speak with NEFA’s Creative Economy staff about your specific needs: Select a Date & Time - Calendly
This “Around the Ground” series of blogposts "travels" to different New England states to see how they are using CreativeGround. As you can read here, last time we were in Connecticut: Around the Ground: Connecticut. Our next stop will be in Massachusetts!