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Western Maine Arts Passport coming
REGION -- Western Maine Economic Development Council (WMEDC) thinks the arts sector can play an important role in this region’s prosperity.
For the last two years, WMEDC has partnered with a collaborative of arts groups to create the first region-wide discount program targeted at the arts sector. It’s called the Western Maine Arts Passport and is scheduled for release during 2012’s holiday season.
The passport represents a network of arts outlets and supportive businesses offering real discounts and incentives across the region.
“There are a lot of firsts in this,” says Glen Holmes, Director of WMEDC. “It’s the first time a collaborative of this size has been organized with a tri-county vision putting the arts and cultural sector at its center. It’s also the first time our agency has gotten invested in the Creative Economy and we’re pretty excited about it.”
The latest study of Arts & Economic Prosperity in the United States (AEP IV) details the economic stimulus of arts and culture at over $135 billion that supports more than four million jobs. Holmes thinks Western Maine’s Arts Passport can draw people to the region for a widespread benefit.
“The Passport program is intended to be an arts - business collaborative”, explains Aranka Matolcsy of Mahoosuc Arts Council, part of a core group managing the program that also includes New England Celtic Arts and Western Maine Cultural Alliance. “It’s a great opportunity for arts and business to help themselves by working with each other.”
Holmes explains that the passport is in a pilot project phase, but support for the concept has been strong in both creative and traditional economies and he feels confident about its potential. “Important collaborations have taken place during the process of developing the passport that prove we’re on the right track”, says Holmes.
A Facebook page for information and a web site where passports can be purchased are being designed by Tourmaline Media. Moose Pond Arts is working on a logo and rack cards. Funding was provided by a $5,000 grant from Maine Lakes and Mountains Tourism Council. Holmes says to stay tuned for more information.