Arts-based Community and Entrepreneurial Development Investment for Lewiston Auburn

LA Arts one of 64 National Endowment for the Arts Our Town projects selected nationwide

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Lewiston Auburn, Maine: National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Jane Chu announced 64 awards totaling $4.3 million supporting projects across the nation through the NEA’s Our Town program. LA Arts, working together with the Lewiston Auburn Economic Growth Council (LAEGC), Maine College of Art and the Pratt Institute is one of the recommended organizations for an award of $50,000 to design and implement an cultural and artist entrepreneurship program and related projects. The Our Town grant program supports creative place-making projects that help to transform communities into lively, beautiful, and resilient places with the arts at their core. The NEA received 240 applications for Our Town this year and will make awards ranging from $25,000 to $100,000.

“For six years, Our Town has made a difference for people and the places where they live, work, and play,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Projects such as the one led by LA Arts and LAEGC help residents engage the arts to spark vitality in their communities.”

Josh Vink, Executive Director for LA Arts, explains “we believe that this initiative, which is a foundational model to give artisans business development skills, get them into makers and co-working spaces, and exhibit their work – is an incredibly important one. It offers key support for the arts and culture sector which very much needs it, is a vital part of our history, and essential for the continued innovation and development of the Twin Cities.” John Holden, President of LAEGC adds, “we are proud to partner with LA Arts as part of our engagement in entrepreneurship in LA Maine. Entrepreneurs will come from all walks of life, cultures, and are encouraged in a creative and artistic environment.” Rebecca Swanson Conrad, Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Maine College of Art says, “MECA is pleased to be a partner in this grant to link our students and alumni to entrepreneurial opportunity to expand the breadth and depth of Lewiston and Auburn’s often hidden, but exemplary and innovative craft, art and design economy.”

The partners believe that the artisan-based manufacturer is one catalyst for the communities future economic development and that Lewiston Auburn can position a brand that is grounded in its cultural heritage, while at the same time offers a clear vision for the future. A major influence of that brand is that LA is a “makers place.” The project will include the development of artisan and maker assessment and strategy, building on a cultural planning process currently underway. Tools to enhance artisan and entrepreneurial development will be cataloged and built. The partners will build marketing and branding support for individual makers and cooperative opportunities, explore opportunities and financing for living and working space opportunities, makers space utilization and adaptive reuse of existing mill space. The project will also support and celebrate Lewiston Auburn as the center of manufacturing and “making” in the State of Maine including a partnership with Museum LA and the plans for the Maine Innovation Expo scheduled for May of 2017 at the Bates Mill complex.

For more information, contact LA Arts (207-782-7228).