Explore our blog to hear from artists and industry experts for insights about the importance of art and craft in Maine and the stories shaping our creative economy.
In more ways than one, it has been A YEAR. It has been a year since we cancelled the 2020 Artists & Makers Conference, and a year since life changed around us and within us. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, arts organizations, galleries, museums, theaters, artists, musicians, makers all understood the importance of the creative economy on Maine’s broader economy. Shoppers, tourists, customers, theatergoers, patrons, collectors, art lovers, music lovers, teachers, and fairgoers also knew this on some level—how art brings so much to their lives.
Sharing stories helps artists and makers face short and long-term challenges resulting from the pandemic
Maine’s creative economy is an important driver in many coastal communities which, according to the “Waypoints: Livelihoods” publication, have an average self-employed rate of 23%. Therefore, since the shutdown in late March, we have been doing several things earnestly: listening to artists, providing resources to support the self-employed, and sharing stories. Sharing stories is a powerful means of sharing solutions and strengthening connections.
If we had lost sight of our sense of community during the digital age, perhaps a silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic may be that we are once again finding value in these connections. It’s ironic that this is happening during a time of forced or self-imposed social distancing, and yet our state’s artists and makers are just one example of a community of people stepping up to fulfill important needs during this uncertain time.
I am one of the lucky ones. I am one of the people in this vast world who has had the true privilege to be greeted by Ashley Bryan at his front door and invited into his home. Ten years ago this spring, Peter Ralston and I traveled by mail boat from Northeast Harbor to Islesford to see Ashley is his studio, hear his stories, and tour around the island. It was my dream to put together a show of his work for the Archipelago Fine Arts Gallery, and we were blessed to be able to do a studio visit. Teri, Peter’s wife, joined us as well as Leo, my seven-month-old son.