Portland, ME

Contact Name
Jeff Badger
Project Dates
April & June 2012
Tags
Event, Networking
In June 2012 Tetra Projects collaborated with the Hellenic Society of Maine to bring a show of works on paper by fifty Portland-area artists to Portland’s Sister City of Mytilene, Greece for an exhibition at the Halim Bey Municipal Art Gallery. Funding for the show was raised through Kickstarter, with Portland Arts & Cultural Alliance acting as a fiscal partner. A preview show was held at Space Gallery in Portland in April 2012 which raised substantial media attention for the project. A reciprocal show in Maine of Greek artists is in the works, and Tetra Projects is working to collaborate on other international exhibition exchanges with artists in Spain (Jan/Feb 2013) and Portland's Sister City of Shinagawa, Japan (April 2014).
Project Goals
What were the project goals?
Originally the goal of Tetra Projects was to create an exhibition exchange with each of Portland's four Sister Cities -- Shinagawa, Japan; Mytilene, Greece; Archangelsk, Russia; and Cap-Hatien, Haiti. Starting with Portes and the exhibit in Greece, we wanted to create opportunities for international exhibition for local artists in Maine and Greece, while strengthening the Sister City relationship through cultural exchange.
Have they changed over time?
The first part of the goal -- the exhibit in Greece -- was completed this summer. Tetra Projects is currently working with the Japan-America Society of Maine to create an exhibition for April of 2014. One thing that has changed is that Tetra is now looking beyond Portland's Sister Cities. "This Flat Earth / Esta Tierra Plan" is a collaborative show of Spanish and American artists that will exhibit in Portland and Madrid in January and February of 2013, and we are also talking with friends in Egpyt and Athens about future projects. In addition, I would like to approach other communities to assist them in organizing exhibitions with their Sister Cities.
Who are the project partners and stakeholders?
Jeff Badger, Director, Tetra Project
Mary Snell, President Hellenic Society of Maine
Project Specifics
How was the project implemented? What were the steps taken?
Jeff Badger and Mary Snell met to discuss the project and sketch out a timeline. The project was approved by the Hellenic Society of Maine and the City governments of Mytilene and Portland. The venues in Portland and Greece were secured and artists were invited. The preview show opened in Portland in April and the fundraising began. Fundraising continued through June, when the show was brought over to Greece and installed. The show ended, work came home, and a catalog was printed for donors and made available for sale online.
Have they been refined over time?
Yes, every step had to be refined and adjusted as we moved forward. The project as a whole took over two years from start to finish.
Obstacles
What were your major obstacles?
Fundraising. Originally we had planned to apply for grants and seek support from the governments. However, to apply for grants we had to have the show set up and venues secured, and support from the governments. By the time that happened it was too late to get cash in hand to use for the project. While we were able to get recognition and media support from the city governments, we did not get financial support. We choose to do a traditional letter-writing campaign and use Kickstarter. This worked, but it was nerve-wracking to use an all-or-nothing funding source after committing to put on an exhibition. Besides that, there were the typical organizational and nuts-and-bolts challenges of organizing an art show with fifty artists.
Who or what was instrumental in overcoming these obstacles?
Our partner organizations and donors
What top three suggestions would you give to others attempting a similar project?
1. Get the money first, if you can
2. Partner with as many local organizations and businesses as possible, to share the workload and the spread the enthusiasm for your project. Don't be afraid to ask for support.
3. Craft a strategy for press and social media
Project Impact
How has this project contributed to creative community building?
The goal was to create an opportunity to simultaneously strengthen the arts community and the Sister City relationship, and the scope and success of the show did this by building more connections between artists, arts venues, non-profit galleries, and Sister City organizations. Fifty Portland artists got to show their work in an international museum show, and on our last day we met with Greek artists to plan a show in Portland in the future.
Why do you consider the project successful, as related to your project goals above?
The show was successful beyond our original goals. I believe it has made an impact on the arts community in terms of increasing the scope of projects that I and other artists are willing to attempt. It enhanced our local and global communities.
Were there unexpected impacts?
Mary Snell and I have become a local resource for artists and organizations interested in creating international exhibition exchanges. Due to enthusiasm for Portes, the City of Portland called a first-ever meeting of all four of the Sister City organizations in Portland and continues to have them meet as a group to share news and resources. Many people in Portland learned about the existence of the Sister City program via this show.