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Who Are They? Waterfall Arts – Part 1

April 20, 2017

Waterfall Arts

This is the first of five blog posts in a series about Waterfall Arts, located in Belfast, and will be posted over the next four days. This is part of a series called Who Are They? Information is provided for the Maine Arts Ed blog readers to learn about community organizations and institutions that provide educational opportunities in the arts. You will learn that they are partnering with other organizations and schools to extend learning opportunities, not supplant.

Waterfall Arts (WA) was founded in 2000 on a rustic site in Montville by a group of local artists. Seventeen years later now located in a repurposed old schoolhouse in Belfast, WA is a vibrant midcoast arts hub with over 6000 visitors per year, still committed to its mission “to create community in harmony with nature through the transformative power of the arts.” WA offers resources to artists and arts enthusiasts of all ages, including classes, exhibitions, events, open media-specific studios (clay, print, and photography), free/sliding scale arts after-school programs for 4th-12th graders, public art projects, long-term studio space, and short-term rental facilities. As the co-founders and those involved are dedicated to an accessible, environmentally-sustainable center, they have embarked on a campaign to transform their old building into a model of creative energy efficiency and ADA-compliance.  Waterfall Arts is located at 265 High Street in Belfast. Website: http://waterfallarts.org, contact: info@waterfallarts.org or call 207.338.2222. This is the first of five on Waterfall Arts.

Kingdom neighborhood of Montville

Hello, I’m Alan Crichton, one of the founders of Waterfall Arts, and I want to tell you how we began sixteen years ago and why we are called Waterfall Arts. As sometimes happens with beginnings, a lucky combination of people, place, need and opportunity just seem to connect at the right time, and a new community energy is born.

For Waterfall Arts, this phenomenon happened in 2000, when a small group of local artists gathered to share their affection for the two converging streams, ponds and waterfalls of the Kingdom neighborhood of Montville. The Kingdom‘s history includes a million year old natural falls as well as two man-made falls at the breast of two ponds. The falls have been a source of many kinds of creative energy for ages. The steady energy of flowing water constantly calls people to contemplation and renewal, invention and industry, and, finally, the power of the arts in a community. This connection of natural and human history is at the heart of the Waterfall Arts’ story, purpose and mission: To create community in harmony with nature through the transformative power of the arts.

Our founding group shared goals for the future: to create aesthetic experiences that enhance and inspire people’s creative abilities and transform their lives. An equally important goal was to reach people who had not had such opportunities before.

In 2006, Waterfall Arts moved to Belfast’s iconic, 80-year- old Gov. Anderson School where we are now celebrating our first decade as “Waldo County’s year-round community arts center with a global appeal.”

Waterfall Arts, Belfast

Over sixteen years, the founders, board and staff have developed hundreds of activities for thousands of visitors and participants: arts exhibits, music and dance concerts, education in all creative media, exciting events that support and nurture artists, farmers, life-long learners and the economy; all with the intention to increase ability, expand awareness, and strengthen community.

What does the future bring? Through innovative architecture and engineering, a Capital Campaign, called Waterfall Rising, is beginning. Its purpose is to ready both our building and Waterfall Arts for our next 80 years by conserving and producing as much energy as we consume, as well as by expanding our capacity for exhibition, performance, education, new media and economic vitality. Our historic building will become a landmark environmental destination as well as a contemporary source for area arts, education and culture. This Waterfall has flowed fast and true for ten years in Belfast. Watch now as it begins to rise!

Alan Crichton is a sculptor, draftsman and writer living in Liberty. Educated at the University of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Goddard College and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, he has taught at Unity College, Colby College, the MFA program at Vermont College and the Farnsworth Museum and has exhibited throughout Maine and New England for over 30 years. He is the co-founder of Waterfall Arts and can be reached at alan@waterfallarts.org.

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