NEFA Award Recipient

Portland, ME

Contact Name
Jennifer Hutchins
Project Dates
December 2014 - May 2015
Creative Portland partnered with the World Affairs Council of Maine and other community organizations to reach out into Portland's growing immigrant community to investigate the scale and scope of interest and participation in the creative economy, and to design a public event where information, ideas and inspiration could be shared among diverse populations. The ultimate goal is to welcome recent immigrants into Portland's creative community and to build lasting networks and relationships that support a previously underserved part of the creative economy.
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:
- To determine how many people in the recent immigrant community would identify as part of the creative economy.
- To introduce the work of Creative Portland and the City of Portland's economic development focus on the creative economy to the recent immigrant community.
- To determine what information and resources recent immigrants need to be more engaged in the creative economy and community.
- To develop long-term networks and relationships for better information sharing, mentoring, etc.
- To offer a workshop about the creative economy on May 1, 2015 in conjunction with the May First Friday Art Walk in downtown Portland that is specifically targeted at the recent immigrant community.
If the goals change over time, please describe how:
At this point, we are still in the process of gathering information from the recent immigrant community. We anticipate that the specific details about what we offer and how we offer it will change as we get to know people better. By May 1, it's likely that our goals will have developed and changed a bit, and we would articulate them in our presentation in June.
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):
Creative Portland is the convener of the various partnering organizations and will take the lead on the management of the outreach effort and May 1 workshop. The World Affairs Council is providing a community-wide context with a 6-month series of events "Celebrating Immigration" and its role in economic development. They are also the organizing partners with Creative Portland in the May 1 event. Several other organizations, like Opportunity Alliance, the Burundi Community Association, Hope Acts, Maine Immigrant Rights Coalition, Portland Adult Education, and the Peaks Artist Collective, are helping to reach out into the recent immigrant community and plan the May 1 event.
How does this project relate to a larger community development strategy?
There are many organizations in Portland that are working on various strategies related to the recent immigrant population. The World Affairs Council's series of events will shed considerable light onto the various efforts and hopefully result in a community-wide set of goals and initiatives. Our particular effort, Immigrants and the Creative Economy, will become part of that final assessment.

The City of Portland also has an economic development vision and plan that has the creative economy identified as a priority area. Our effort to reach out to the immigrant community adds to our work supporting and growing Portland's creative economy.
Project Specifics
Please list the steps taken to implement the project:
The World Affairs Council invited Creative Portland to lead the "creative economy" portion of their overarching project: Celebrating Immigration in Portland's Economy. Creative Portland convened a group of organizations with substantial connections to the immigrant community. We are designing a short survey to invite recent immigrants to provide interests and needs related to the creative economy and asked many organizations to distribute it. After receiving feedback, we will reconvene the partners to develop a session/workshop on May 1 that would respond to the information we gathered. We will organize and lead a workshop, then follow up with participants with learnings and next steps. The World Affairs Council will integrate the findings from that experience into their overall recommendations for community development goals for Portland's recent immigrant community.
If the project steps changed over time, please describe how:
We will know more about this in May once we've heard back from our survey.
Obstacles
What were your major obstacles for the completion of the project?
So far, the biggest hurdle is language and finding the best ways to gather information from the immigrant community. We will have more to share after May 1. Another one is defining who we mean by "immigrant."
Who or what was instrumental in overcoming these obstacles?
Finding multiple partners in the social services, faith-based institutions and the immigrant community is essential.
What top three suggestions would you give to others attempting a similar project?
So far, I would recommend allowing for a lot of time to develop many partnerships and opportunities to meet and share information.
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?
We will know more in May, but it has already had benefits in that recent immigrants who are helping with this project are meeting people in the mainstream creative community who want to be helpful and build effective networks for employment and economic success.
Why do you consider the project successful, as related to your project goals above?
Same as above. Both communities are already learning from one another and bridging gaps in understanding and knowledge.
How did you measure this success or progress?
- the number of participants
- the quality and quantity of survey feedback
- workshop evaluations
- post May 1 debrief with partners
Please describe any unexpected impacts:
unknown
CCX Workshop Handout