Winter Harbor, ME

Contact Name
Mary Laury
Project Dates
August 1 - 14
Workshop Leader
Creative Communities Exchange (CCX) 2017
Event, Marketing
The Schoodic Arts Festival is the flagship event of Schoodic Arts for All. The two-week Arts Festival offers 90 workshops and 26 performances in 14 days. The Schoodic Peninsula comes alive with arts events in July and August. With a performance every night, a free event every noon, and workshops in all genre, the Schoodic Arts Festival has been a catalyst for Schoodic Arts for All to grow to be a year-round arts organization presenting ongoing community programs, performances, art exhibits, and almost 100 workshops annually. Today Schoodic Arts for All is an economic engine that occupies 3 historic landmark buildings and provides lifelong learning and enrichment to members of the community, students in the schools, and visitors to our region.
Project Goals
What were the specific goals of this creative economy project? Describe the community development challenge or opportunity that your project was designed to address:
Schoodic Arts for All was born in 1999 as a grassroots citizen’s group to address the dire economic impact on the town due to the closure of the Winter Harbor Navy base. The loss of $11.5 million dollars in payroll and another $9 million in losses to vendors of equipment, supplies, and services to the navy cut the population by half, leaving only 23 students in the school and 100 empty buildings in town. Our task was to bring back life and vitality through increased visitation and economic opportunity.
One early answer to the question of how to save the community was to hold a two-week arts festival.
If the goals change over time, please describe how:
Schoodic Arts for All has since grown to a year-round arts organization presenting 18 ongoing community programs, 85 performances, 15 art exhibits, and almost 100 workshops annually. Today Schoodic Arts for All is an economic anchor and a magnet for creative businesses and individuals to relocate to our area. Board member Jane Keegan reflects:

We moved to Winter Harbor largely because Schoodic Arts for All exists. Its annual Art Festival, a “perfect storm” of workshops, performances and events is eagerly anticipated by me, my artist friends, and visitors who come to participate each year. Volunteers are thrilled to make this happen. Everyone involved feels they are part of something big and important. It’s a two-week love affair—intense, uplifting, energetic, creative. Schoodic Arts for All benefits everyone whether they participate directly or not. We saved an historic building, filled it with music, art, and performances, and everybody is welcomed to enjoy it all!
Who was involved in this project and what did they do? (be sure to include the partners from outside of the creative sector and how local voices were included):
A major project requires a reservoir of good working relationship, careful planning, and regular input from all partners. The Schoodic Arts for All Schoolhouse Artist Incubator building would not have been possible at all without the support of our Town Manager and Select Board. They courted us for two years prior to this proposal to populate the old town office building with creative activity to further enhance the downtown. Other examples of cooperative effort on which the proposed project draws include:

• Joint planning with the public libraries and historical societies and the Acadia National Park Schoodic Education and Research Center (SERC) Institute
• Sharing in the development and retention of a diverse corps of volunteers committed to cultural preservation and the economic benefits it brings to our corner of Maine
• Collaboration with local schools includes our Merit Award for Outstanding Engagement in the Arts, an experiential learning scholarship, and the EdGE afterschool program serving rural at-risk youth through creative engagement.

In addition, the Chamber of Commerce meets in our building, the Scout leaders meet here, the annual Winter Harbor Town Meeting is held here—not to mention the many memorial services held here for community members.
How does this project relate to a larger community development strategy?
We work hard to make sure our region continues to develop and grow, and local economic development is a top priority. Every dollar and hour we spend is a vote for how we want our peninsula to be. It is imperative to invest locally in the Creative Economy. Making an investment in arts-related activity will drive other local economic development. By setting up shop in key historic locations we preserve the architectural flavor that is so important in preserving the identity of our communities. We need to support arts entrepreneurship and promote our cultural flavors to the benefit of all.

We are confident the proposed project will enhance cultural and intellectual environment that will attract even more residents and visitors to the area. Consider the following testimonial from a recent arrival, Bob Bovee:
After considerable time traveling about I have located an amazing venue that brings wonders of the world to a single location.  Picture it:  authentically costumed Fijian "warriors," a whitebread steel drum band, Stan Jones' "Ghost Riders in the Sky" on ukuleles, classically trained hula dancers, more art and craft classes than can be imagined, a Theremin concert, Pecha Kucha Night (yes, look it up), an amazingly humorous theater lab presentation on local down east life, and free lunch time music programs every day of the festival. And you ask where does this spectacular entertainment occur? Only in Maine of course. It is the Schoodic Arts for All Festival in Winter Harbor, Maine. We'll see you there next year.

Schoodic Arts for All encourages participation of residents, families, school children, and the many visitors to our region. The actors and musicians who practice their art as part of our programs benefit from working together, painters and sculptors have an opportunity to exhibit their artwork, and community members attending these events gain further insight into their lives and those of their community, enriching the quality of life for all involved.

While we are very aware of the Festival’s importance as a marketing tool, and are working to boost the number of in-state/out-of-state tourists, we see the primary value in terms of our identity as a community. One illustration of the importance to the community is the value of the time shared by so many local people. The Schoodic Arts Festival would be impossible to stage without the help of many volunteers. A conservative estimate of time this year was 600 hours contributed by people who set up road signs, posted flyers, served food, collected tickets, greeted instructors, gave information, set up and cleaned up workshop spaces, and registered students. The Independent Sector calculates the value of volunteer time in Maine at $21.31 (, or $12,786 for the 2016 Festival. Our challenge as we move into a new growth period is staying true to our roots as a community of artists committed to making a living through our creative endeavors—and thereby enhancing the lives of all who live here.
What projects or places, if any, inspired your approach to this creative economy project?
In a region with little industry, most of the people who live here are engaged in creative occupations. These include the visual arts, music, craft, writing, design, architecture, and organic agriculture.
Project Specifics
Please list the steps taken to implement the project:
In the beginning the Festival had little staff and little money. the nuts and bolts of the Festival were run by 85 volunteers and one summer administrator. the instructors and performers were paid through tuition and ticket sales. We rented, and still do rent, 11 buildings around the Schoodic Peninsula, including artists studios, church and Masonic halls, libraries to hold our workshops in.
A very major expense has always been marketing. We do an excellent job with it and now the Schoodic Arts Festival is synonymous with Winter Harbor and Downeast Maine. In the beginning we used mainly printed materials and did enrollment in workshops by hand, over the phone or through the mail. Workshop confirmations were a nightmare of spreadsheet copy and pasting. Much of this work is now web software based, though our personal relationship with constituents remains to priority.
If the project steps changed over time, please describe how:
Largely due to the success of the Festival, Schoodic Arts for All has grown to a year-round arts organization. Measurable results since that first Festival include our ability to present annually 18 ongoing community programs, 85 performances, 15 art exhibits, and almost 100 workshops. As we look ahead to a milestone 20th anniversary, we are proud, pleased, and not a little amazed that our tremendous growth has happened so quickly. But in fact, we have also come to realize that the continued growth we anticipate over the next three years will demand intense, careful planning to keep that momentum manageable and sustainable. In short, while many of the beneficial results we have seen are a direct consequence of many years of success with the Festival, that success itself has been in large part because we have always tried to keep the Festival as open as we can even as our resources are increasingly pulled toward newer projects and endeavors. Going forward, the next measurable benefit from the Festival will be a detailed plan built on its past success. Our goal throughout the planning will be never to lose sight of the original, inclusive vision that has guided our mission ever since: to welcome all who wish to come, experience, and contribute to our creative community.
Our marketing materials have become more sophisticated, including our season catalog, our website, and our email blast. Data base work is not much more involved as is our on line enrollment and ticket sales.
What were your major obstacles for the completion of the project?
By design, we keep our prices at an affordable rate so that families can take part. Schoodic Arts Festival in 2016 was $63,610, with a cash deficit of more than $22,000. Clearly, we regard this signature event not as fundraiser. With affordable tickets and kids free, we pack the house for every event. Yet the ticket revenue and tuition fees cover only 1/4 of the cost of the program. The remaining 75% must be raised every year. We believe that our artists and performers must be paid a livable wage in order to help them continue to make their living as artists in Maine. Therefore we pay them what they deserve and continually fundraise to make up the difference.
Who or what was instrumental in overcoming these obstacles?
We seek a coalition of funders willing to support one-quarter or more of the Festival’s “break-even” point. By ensuring that all expenses are covered, this critically important annual event will not sap our scarce resources but can remain a key driver of our forward momentum. business sponsorships, individual donations, fundraising events, and foundation support are absolutely critical to our continued success.
What top three suggestions would you give to others attempting a similar project?
1. Be accessible, not only with pricing, but with relationships.
2. Be passionate, not only in your love for the project, but with the delivery of the best product possible.
3. Be what the community is in love with, both by the users of your project, and also by those who love you because of what you stand for.
Project Impact
How has this project strategically connected arts and cultural activities to social, economic, and cultural issues in your community? What is different in your community as a result of this project?
Our impact is most direct in that we inhabit three historic buildings that would likely be empty were it not for our occupancy. Our sustained presence is evidence that arts and arts education is a valued commodity and investment to members of our community. Underserved the area may be, it is committed to revitalizing itself through exploring and expressing its unique cultural heritage.
Empty buildings = not good / Creative Economy activity in buildings = good

Dedicated to improving the quality of life in our communities, Schoodic Arts for All offers diverse, year round performances in music, dance, and theater. During the warmer months, and at our two-week Schoodic Arts Festival, Schoodic Arts offers a plethora of classes in the arts. Dance. All programming is offered at accessible pricing, with scholarship availability, to encourage the participation of all residents, families, school children and the visitors to our region.

Hammond Hall
When Hammond Hall, built 100 years ago for the center of town government, became slated for fire practice, we stepped forward and asked for tenancy. We now lease the building for $1 a year on a long-term, 10 year rolling lease and have invested a half million dollars in restoration. We fill it with performance and activity all year. The architecture includes a beautiful stage and full balcony. It is the crowning jewel of Main Street.

Combs Studio
Contiguous to Winter Harbor, in the village of Prospect Harbor, we were gifted a two story art studio. We have fully equipped it with pottery wheels and kilns, spinning wheels and looms, and a small metal shop. We hold classes there for kids and adults, as well as rent it to artists by the week or hour to teach their own classes. We also collaborate with Acadia National Park to facilitate the Artist in Residence program when space and equipment is needed.

We have proved outstanding stewards of Hammond Hall, and so the citizens of Winter Harbor, as well as the municipality of Winter Harbor, have asked us to fill their former town office with creative activity. We lease that for $1 a year on a long-term, 10 year rolling lease. This space will be our Artist’s Incubator. We will rent affordable studio space to work, teach, and sell. Further, we will mentor and train artists in the business of making a living with their art.
Why do you consider the project successful, as related to your project goals above?
Because we are an organization comprised of local artists and educators, community members come to us directly with their ideas. These proposals are then submitted to a program committee for discussion and consideration. We believe that the success we have experienced is directly related to the fact that our programs have come from the community and are for the community.
How did you measure this success or progress?
After every festival workshop, we provide a paper evaluation to each student and each instructor with a scale from 1 – 5 asking questions about the workshop, the instruction, and the festival as a whole. (Please see graphic attached to this document that is part of the evaluation of the 2016 Festival.) We also email every student with an online evaluation. We then collate these evaluations to take a look at what specific workshops are most attended and most valuable to the attendees. We solicit ideas and suggestions from every participant so that we can pursue instructors that will meet the needs of the students. The educational workshop planning begins a year before the festival begins to ensure a good balance of genre, a good selection of offerings, and a good selection of price range. Performances for the festival are booked based on a balance of kids events, music genre, theater, and so on. These evaluation methods have been essential to the Festival’s success. Our staff and board are equally committed to deliver the best mission-driven programming that can be found anywhere going forward. Developing a similarly rigorous assessment strategy will be a central part of our planning process for our future.
Please describe any unexpected impacts:
Schoodic Arts for All has served as a springboard for other creative endeavors that hold value not only for their artistic side but also for their telescopic reach. Endeavors not immediately apparent in our long list of programs, the Schoodic International Sculpture Symposium, the Apron Project, and the Image Gazer Film Festival, are examples of great ideas brought to fruition under our umbrella. We are a community catalyst. We are fiscal sponsors and mentors to young nonprofits. We are poised to offer an exponential increase in access to affordable arts programming to our region. We will extend our arms beyond the reach of our immediate horizon.
CCX Workshop Handout