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Maine Arts Commission awards major cultural development grant to Lewiston-Auburn

The plan calls for spurring economic development through installations of public art in each city.

The Maine Arts Commission has awarded the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and L-A Arts a MAC Creative Communities = Economic Development (CCED) Phase 2 Grant of $75,000 for the implementation of Cultural Plan LA. Proceeds will be used to improve the image of Lewiston-Auburn and spur economic development through public art installations in each city.

The Chamber of Commerce serves as the lead organization for the grant; Cultural Plan LA will be implemented by L/A Arts, with support from the Chamber of Commerce, Arts and Culture LA (ACLA), and the municipalities of Lewiston and Auburn.

“The Chamber is eager to pull the people of the Twin Cities together to pursue the ambitious programs of Cultural Plan LA, beginning with the exciting installation of public art works,” said Rebecca Swanson Conrad, President and CEO of the LA Metro Chamber of Commerce. “We are so pleased that MAC continues to share our vision for a vibrant LA community and supports our use of cultural planning as a pivotal tool for sustainable community revitalization.”

In 2015, L/A Arts received a MAC Creative Communities = Economic Development Phase I Grant to develop a cultural plan. That project was sponsored by the City of Lewiston, the City of Auburn, L/A Arts, and ACLA. Cultural Plan LA outlines priorities and recommendations for action which, coupled with cross-sector partnerships, will catalyze LA’s potential as a creative metropolis.

“We are grateful and delighted to have this opportunity to continue with implementation of Cultural Plan LA,” said Darby Ray, L/A Arts Board Clerk and Director of the Harward Center for Community Partnerships at Bates College. “With strategic investment in the arts, we are confident we can spur innovation and economic development while enhancing the LA community’s quality of life, making it a more desirable, attractive place to live or start a business.”

The Maine Arts Commission provides CCED grants to support cultural development through coalition building in communities. The CCED grant has evolved from a one-year $50,000 grant to a $75,000 grant distributed over three years that requires the successful completion of a Cultural Plan prior to applying for the funds.

The Arts Commission also funds Cultural Planning for communities and regions as an impetus for this work. To date, nine Maine communities have either completed or are in the process of completing Cultural Plans as a result.

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that Maine’s arts and culture sector contributes $1.5 billion annually to Maine’s economy, representing 2.6 percent of the state’s GDP. In 2015, arts and culture jobs grew by 2.6 percent.

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