Archive for the ‘Community’ Category


National Junior Duck Stamp Art

May 3, 2021

Biddeford 12 year old

Ariah Lowell, 12, of Biddeford, takes top honors in the National Junior Duck Stamp Art Contest for her painting of a Harlequin Duck. Courtesy photo

A Harlequin Duck painted in oils by a Biddeford 12 year old, Aria Lowell, took third place in the National Junior Duck Stamp Art Contest. More than 400 Maine students in grades K-12 submitted art work this year. The program is coordinated in state by the Maine Audubon and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Aria received Best in Show in Maine and went on to the national level representing Maine.

This “conservation through the arts” program uses the winning artwork as the basis for the $5 Junior Duck Stamp. Revenue supports environmental education activities for participants. encourages students to explore their natural world, invites them to investigate biology and wildlife management principles, and challenges them to express and share what they have learned with others. Nearly 9,000 students took part in the program nationwide this year. To learn more CLICK HERE.


Documentary Songwriters

April 28, 2021

Teaching Artist Training Program

This summer Documentary Songwriters will be offering a professional development opportunity to learn more about being a Documentary Songwriter Teaching Artist.


First, we teach a collaborative method of songwriting that creates lyrics directly from spoken stories. We harness the power inherent in human speech to create deeply emotional songs.

Second, we are committed to giving you the necessary skills to integrate this songwriting method with your ongoing work. In addition to learning the steps of the Documentary Songwriting Method, you will learn how to create a safe space that invites others to share, you will learn how to plan and follow through with projects, and you will learn valuable self-care and emotional processing tactics to implement when dealing with emotional stories.

Finally, our training rests in experiential education. Each day, participants will be challenged to be open, vulnerable, and in a space of growth. You will have the opportunity to practice every skill that we learn, both musical and interpersonal, in real-world scenarios.

If you are ready to listen deeply and expand your musical offering and teaching techniques, then this course is for you. Join us as we learn to spread the power of high-quality songwriting across the globe.


A documentary song is a song that comes from a person’s spoken words about an actual, lived experience. The song documents the emotions of the experience through music. It is a method of co-writing music that fosters empathy, boosts self-confidence and strengthens community.

Three qualities of a docking:

  • Authenticity: The song arises from the spoken words of an individual’s lived experience.
  • Accessibility: The melody and words can be sung by people without trained voices.
  • Artistry: The song expresses a shared exploration of ideas and suggestions from its Story Source and Teaching Artist.

Learn more at THIS LINK about many of the projects. A collection of songs that have come from the project are at THIS LINK.

The summer teaching artist training program will be an enriching and meaningful professional development opportunity for musicians and educators who would like to broaden their experience telling stories and building connection through music. For more information, contact Nora Willauer at


Social Justice Songwriting

April 27, 2021


A two-part social justice songwriting workshop! The Strand Theatre in Rockland is thrilled to host folk music group Ants on a Log for a two-part social justice songwriting workshop — “Speak Up, Sing Out” — on April 29 and May 6 from 5-6:00 p.m. over Zoom. Open to local young people ages 10-14, participants will learn how to use their voices to express themselves through song. Students should plan to attend both sessions. Participation is FREE but availability is extremely limited — please secure your spot by emailing Education Manager Brittany Parker at You will receive your Zoom link once your registration is confirmed. 

This project is funded in part by a grant from the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts


Maine Poetry Out Loud

April 20, 2021

Blog post 1 of 6 – Poetry

It is very exciting to see Allan Monga, Maine’s State Poetry Out Loud (POL) 2018 champ, as the emcee of the Maine state finals this year. Unfortunately, they couldn’t be held in person but how wonderful that they’ve been recorded so you can enjoy watching and listening to students from 10 Maine high schools reciting poetry.

CONGRATULATIONS to the Maine poetry student finalists and THANK YOU TEACHERS!

EMMA COLLINS, grade 12 – North Yarmouth Academy, Teacher: Ross Markonish

HAZEL DOW, grade 11 – Waterville Senior High School, Teacher: Thomas Creeley

KATELYN NESTOR, grade 10 – Gardiner Area High School, Teacher: Melissa Cheeseman

EMILY PARUK, grade 12 – Gorham High School, Teacher: Kerry Herlihy

ZEKE SITARZ, grade 12 – Lisbon High School, Teacher: Danielle Sylvia

SOFIA STOCKWELL, grade 10 – North Haven Community School, Teacher: Matt Rich

HELEN STOUT, grade 12 – Cape Elizabeth High School, Teacher: Lisa Melanson

ROSE TUTTLE, grade 9 – Mount Ararat High School, Teacher: Emily Vail

ADA VANCIL, grade 11 – John Bapst Memorial High School, Teacher: Jennifer Babcock

MAGNOLIA VANDIVER, grade 12 – George Stevens Academy, Teacher: Maria Johnson

After three rounds of strong performances, the Maine Arts Commission POL judges announced Emily Paruk, a senior from Gorham High School, to represent Maine in May at the National POL event. Helen Strout, a senior at Cape Elizabeth High School, finished runner-up. The Maine State Finals judges were Mihku Paul, Ekhlas Ahmed, Erica Rubin Irish, and Todd McKinley. 

Emily Paruk recited Once the World Was Perfect by Joy Harjo, Fairy-tale Logic by A.E. Stallings, and [‘Often Rebuked, Yet Always Back Returning’] by Emily Bronte.

This will be the first year in the program’s 16-year history that the national competition to be held virtually. Her first appearance is May 2 at noon during one of three semifinal matches. If she advances beyond the semifinal, Paruk will compete in the national finals on May 27 at 7 p.m.

Maine’s POL program is organized by the Maine Arts Commission in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.

For more information about Maine Poetry Out Loud, visit or contact Meg Fournier, Interim Director of Media and Performing Arts, Maine Arts Commission at More than four million students have participated in Poetry Out Loud over the past 16 years, many advancing from classroom competitions to school competitions to state competitions to, finally, the national finals. For more information about the national POL program, visit

The film includes three rounds of student recitation videos, as well as performances by musicians from Maine Academy of Modern Music. Enjoy the recorded state finals below.


Place-Based Education

April 17, 2021

Building curiosity and community

Place: it’s where we’re from; it’s where we’re going. . . . It asks for our attention and care. If we pay attention, place has much to teach us.”

Join us for the next Getting Smart Town Hall, focused on the power of place-based education (PBE), “Every Place is a Place: The Power of Place-Based Education For Building Curiosity and Community.”

We’ll start by diving into what PBE is. Then, we’ll share examples of how schools in diverse contexts and environments have adopted place-based programs as a way to better engage students this summer while attaining three important goals of education: student agency, equity, and community. We’ll close with tips for and best practices for implementing PBE for the new school year.

This event will take place on May 6th at 10:00 a.m. PT.



Art for Good

April 15, 2021

Chocolate Church Arts Center Tonight 7:00 PM

Episode 2 “Dolls for Change” with Kimberly Becker

Thursday, Today at 7pm!

Art For Good is a four-part online series focusing on how the arts can be used to make the world a better place. 

How do dolls made from recycled clothing help girls in in Uganda to stay in school? Find out on on our second episode of A4G, in which we speak with artist (and CCAC gallery curator) Kimberly Becker. Kimberly will talk about her “Dolls for Change” project, as well as her other work as a feminist artist.

The episode will be broadcast (free!) Thursday 4/15 at 7pm on our Facebook and YouTube pages. 

The Chocolate Church Cultural Arts Center is a non-profit regional performing and visual arts center located in historic Bath.

The Chocolate Church Arts Center is mid coast Maine’s regional performing and visual arts center. For more than 40 years the Chocolate Church Arts Center has been offering a rich program of live music, gallery exhibitions, theatre for young artists, lectures and workshops.


ARRT! Collaboration

April 8, 2021

Portland Museum of Art and Portland High School

Collaboration comes in many forms and can make a huge difference in the education of students. I’ve observed collaborations that start with a small idea and grow into a long-term meaningful learning opportunity. Quite often, not only are students learning but the adults, who are behind the details, are expanding their knowledge as well.

One such opportunity is presently underway at Portland High School (PHS) in collaboration with the Portland Museum of Art (PMA). The PMA Learning & Teaching Specialist Meghan Quigley Graham has been working with the Portland Public Schools (PPS) Partnerships since 2019. The PPS/PMA Partnerships was established as a way to connect with educators and students in the district on a deeper level. The partnerships work with individual educators to collaboratively build opportunities for free-choice, student-driven learning. Through these partnerships, they learn more about access barriers and opportunities for the PMA to be a better resource for educators throughout Maine. These partnerships within the PPS district help to inform ways that the museum can expand capacity for more direct collaboration with educators in other districts.

Meghan has been working with art teacher Louis Pierre Lachapelle as part of the PPS/PMA Partnerships. Louis taught at Lincoln Middle School before taking the position at Portland High School two years ago. This school year, Meghan and Louis wanted to connect students with artists featured in the Untitled 2020: Art from Maine in a ____ Time exhibition at the PMA. It was important that the youth voice be a part of this exhibition in some way, as young people have a lot to express about the year that 2020 was, just as the artists featured in the exhibition do. The PMA’s main role in this partnership was to connect Louis and the Artists’ Rapid Response Team (ARRT)! They will also be reflecting on the experience and sharing that out with wider audiences once the collaboration is complete. They hope to find a way to display some of the artwork that students create.

Each week the artists of ARRT! connect with Louis’ advanced students and provide them feedback and comments on the art they have underway. Students are inspired by the conversations and are very engaged in the opportunity. Louis acknowledged that not only do the artists’ have so much to offer students but PMA does as well. It’s a win-win for everyone.

For those who don’t know ARRT! they create banners and props to promote the work of progressive non-profits across Maine. You can learn more at THIS LINK. ARRT! artists’ are also members of the Union of Maine Visual Artists (UMVA). ARRT! collaborates with 60+ non-profit, progressive groups to promote social change in Maine. ARRT artists’ are pleased to be working with the PHS students in Louis’ classes. They are concerned about the future so being able to work with high schoolers provides a wonderful opportunity to address their concern. With the pandemic ARRT! has shifted how they perform their mission. Maine artist Natasha Mayers who established ARRT! says: “One of the best things to come out of this work with the PHS class is to work as a team, an expert panel, seeing how much we  have to offer the students. I’m overwhelmed by the skill and kindness and generosity and insight that the other ARRTists bring to the discussion. The students get feedback from at least 3 or 4 of us. Lucky students.”  In addition, this opportunity opens up a new window for ARRT. “We have worked together for years, but not in this way, so it is a new appreciation of each other and of ARRT! collaboration.”

ARRT! was selected to participate in the juried exhibition Untitled, 2020: Art From Maine In A _______ Time, which runs until May 31, 2021. The PMA is now open to the public by advance time ticketed only.

Meghan said: “PMA is always looking for more ways to collaborate and partner with Maine educators! If anyone is interested in discussing potential collaborations and partnerships with the PMA.” Please contact Meghan at


Lewis Prize for Music

April 7, 2021



The Lewis Prize for Music is thrilled to invite you to our virtual Open House for Music CYD Rural Leadership on Thursday, April 22 from 5pm – 7pm ET. We are hosting an informal conversation with rural and tribal creative youth development practitioners and youth participants, members of state arts agencies, rurally based community centers, advocates and supporters for rural and indigenous communities.

Creative Youth Development is a recent term for a longstanding practice that integrates creative skill-building, inquiry, and expression with positive youth development principles, including holistic wellbeing. The Lewis Prize for Music team is eager to learn about rural communities and the experiences of working and getting funding for out of school music programming.

We will share information about our annual Accelerator Awards application and how to apply beginning in May 2021, as well as how to share about the award opportunity with other rural CYD music organizations that qualify for this opportunity. 

Please note, we are capping attendees to the first 100 people to sign up. Honorariums will be provided for attendees that qualify as being a part of CYD Music Organizations.


Art Teachers Studio

April 6, 2021

Maine Art Education Partners in Leadership

The Virtual Open Art Teachers Studio is back, starting May 13! For and by Maine teachers. Open to anyone involved or interested in arts education – visual, literary and performing arts educators, teaching artists, administrators, community folks. This is a time to set aside and activate your own creativity. In this long year, we have learned that self-care is critical for those supporting others, such as arts educators. Please give yourself one hour a week to dive into your own imagination with us!  Four sessions, free. To register click here.  Article about past sessions can be read in the winter edition of the Maine Arts Journal here

For more information: 



MAEA Spring Conference

April 6, 2021


Congratulations to the Maine Art Education Association for a successful virtual conference held this past Saturday. Iva Damon was the chair who waited an entire year to complete her task. Last year the conference was canceled thanks to the pandemic. Every aspect of the conference entitled Perceptions 2021 went really well. If you’re working on the planning of a virtual conference or workshop I suggest you reach out to Iva who is an art teacher at Leavitt Area High School. Conference planner Extraordinaire!

The conference opened with a keynote provided by Natasha Mayers and Rob Shetterly. She often explores themes of peace and social justice. Recently the film on Natasha’s life as an artist was released called Natasha Mayers: an Un-Still Life. Natasha founded ARRT! (the Artists’ Rapid Response Team) in 2012, an artists’ collective that meets monthly, creating over 400 banners, props and yard signs for most of the progressive organizations in Maine. She co-founded and is editor-in-chief of The Maine Arts Journal: Union of Maine Visual Artists Quarterly. Learn more about how Natasha has contributed to so many meaningful projects and made a difference in Maine practicing her art in a collaborative way. You can read about her contributions since 1976 at THIS LINK. Conference participants had a chance to view the film before the conference.

“…an engaging and lively portrait of an engaged and lively artist who uses her talents in the service of truth and justice, rather than fortune”
— Edgar Allen Beem
Natasha Mayers

Artist Rob Shetterly founded Americans Who Tell the Truth (AWTT) and has painted over 250 portraits of ‘truth tellers’. The Samantha Smith Project is part of the AWTT work where middle and high school students use art to build a bridge between the classroom and the world to create curious, courageous, and engaged citizens. SSC projects teach students that, no matter what age, they can be part of solving the challenges and problems they see around them.

One of the portraits that Rob has created is of Natasha so it was a delight to have them both share their stories and inspire art educators to make a difference in their classrooms.

Participants had a chance to attend three workshops throughout the day and meet with colleagues informally. The workshops were:

  • Evaluating Creativity with music educator Joe Cough
  • Update your Advocacy: New Ways of Promoting and Expanding Your Impact Beyond the Art Room with Brunswick Middle School teacher Cory Bucknam
  • Neurographic Art with Maranacook Community School art teacher Hope Lord
  • Teaching and Learning with Natasha Mayers: An Un-Still Life with Argy Nestor, Sweetland Middle School
  • AP Art and Design Network Discussion with high school art teachers Lori Spruce and Holly Houston
  • Hand-Build a Tour Up & Stamped Mug with Bioddeford Middle School art teacher Samara Yandell

The day ended with a gathering and door prizes presented. It was very clear that teachers missed seeing colleagues from other parts of the state and making art together. Comments around the challenges of the year and that the value of the art classroom became more clear to educators. Participants said what a great conference it was. More people attended the spring conference than has been the case in the last several years. The comment that placed clarity on our important roles as art educators this year was stated by Rangeley Lakes Regional School Art Teacher Sonja Johnson:

“The Art classroom is a place of awakening this year”.

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