Promote Arts and Entertainment
Although the community declared Promote Arts and Entertainment to be the 4th priority at the 1996 Community Catalyst they did see the arts as our most established asset ranking it our highest accomplishment level.
REM created an Arts Directory as part of the Mid-Maine Arts Partners working with the Maine Community Foundation and the Maine Arts Commission in 2003. REM had called artists and art supporters together for a community forum on the arts. Eight arts teams were formed out of this forum. These eight teams designed their own page in the Arts Directory.
The cover was designed by all of the teams working together with a graphics designer. This was one of REM’s first experiences with consensual decision making. They said it couldn’t be done but it was done and done well. Everyone involved, except perhaps the gentleman working the computer, enjoyed the experience.
REM was invited by Bill Cotter, President of Colby College, in 1996 to help establish the Waterville Regional Arts and Community Center…most often referred to as The Center.
The Stern’s Building was going on the auction block and area citizens were worried about the domino effect of losing a prime building in our downtown. President Cotter asked REM to represent community in the endeavor to create a space balancing business, community and the arts at The Center.
Faye Nicholson, our Co-Executive Director and Dream Catcher has served on the WRACC Board since it’s inception and REM has worked daily to bring community to The Center both by providing rental spaces for people to bring their business, organizational and personal meetings and events downtown and by creating our own public projects and events to do the same. Our intent is to help people develop a sense of place and keep downtown active.
REM’s primary objective is to build community and the arts has certainly proven to be a great way to build community. People are attracted to both view art and experience a medium hands-on. Art has also helped us gather community around difficult issues…lend a focus that gives people time to know each other and trust each other. For instance, Women’s Initiative not only has a monthly arts gallery but began their very first gathering by crafting together. The Kennebec Club began their work together by building their space and creating an atmosphere which would make people feel at home. The arts were a major part of that work. The Tourmaline Singers sing to the dying and others who need to find peace and healing.
In addition to bringing artists from all over Maine to our juried REM Craft Fair, featuring an artist every month in Women’s Initiative, involving the REM Crafting Klatch and decorating team in crafting and decorating REM’s spaces at The Center, REM would like to expand that focus in 2015 by bringing together the 8 arts teams and creating a new arts directory.
When President of Colby College, Bro Adams, left Colby in 2014 he led the reorganization of WRACC into a heavily arts focus. With the help of the Unity Foundation under the leadership of Lawrence (Larry) Sterrs, Chairman and CEO and Lori Roming, Research and Program Officer, a collaboration of area arts organizations formed “Waterville Creates!” Waterville Creates! became part of WRACC in 2014. A new Board of Directors was established including representatives from all of the Waterville Creates! organizations and other building stakeholders including REM.
Waterville Creates! is a very exciting, growing, full of promise energy that REM believes will transform not just Waterville, but our whole community. Be watching! If you are interested in learning more click the button below and someone from Waterville Creates! will contact you.