A major tourism initiative launches this week that will boost Maine’s economy through the promotion of artwalks in downtowns across Maine. Recent reports have shown that cultural tourism is one of the largest and fastest-growing global tourism markets. To take advantage of this fact a new website, artwalkmaine.org, has been created that highlights all of the 80 plus artwalks that take place in Maine throughout the year.
“Not only do the ArtWalks enliven downtowns around the state, showcasing Maine’s artists and artisans, they also provide a unique experience that is an integral part of our ‘There’s More to Maine’ campaign, said Carolann Ouellette, Director of the Maine Office of Tourism.
“We applaud the collaborative promotional effort of ArtWalk Maine,” Ouellette added.
Usually held on Friday evenings, ArtWalks are self-guided tours through Maine’s downtowns that allow participants to visit Maine’s world-class art museums and galleries, as well as intimate artist studios, and exhibits in local businesses and cafés.
The additional traffic visiting Maine’s downtowns during these events brings welcome business to the creative sector as well as related industries such as dining and hospitality. Portland alone reports that over 3,000 visitors attend the First Friday artwalks at the beginning of each month.
The ArtWalkMaine project is spearheaded by Five Rivers Arts Alliance and was made possible, in part by an Arts Visibility Grant from the Maine Arts Commission and is also supported by grants from Maine Office of Tourism, Maine Community Foundation and the Quimby Family Foundation.
“We are pleased that this project will help long-established and start-up ArtWalks across the state,” said Harriet Mosher, director of Five Rivers Arts Alliance. “It is so rewarding to work with artists, volunteers and organizations that share excitement about ArtWalk Maine and the power of working together.”
Linda Nelson, a former member of the Maine Arts Commission echoes how these efforts can help communities and artists and contribute to a positive vision for the future. She says, “The ArtWalk Maine website exactly meets a pressing Maine need: to promote and celebrate the huge contribution the creative economy makes to each of our small towns, and thus to the state’s well-being as a whole.”
Today, ArtWalk Maine features tours in sixteen locations: Bangor, Bar Harbor, Bath, Belfast, Biddeford, Boothbay Harbor, Brunswick-Topsham, Eastport, Freeport, Gardiner, Lewiston-Auburn, Peaks Island, Portland, Presque Isle, Rockland and Stonington. Since the start of the project, ArtWalks have continued to pop up across the state; the most recent efforts are in Lewiston-Auburn and Eastport. Portland’s First Friday ArtWalk remains the state’s largest and longest running event. It is now in good company.