The Belfast Creative Coalition’s mission is to cultivate arts and culture to attract people and business to the Belfast area through coordination and promotion.
Cultivating Arts & Culture for the Belfast Area
BCC is a creative placemaking initiative that builds community through cultural assets by:
• Unifying the efforts of a well-recognized and highly-respected cluster of arts and cultural endeavors, building collaborative partnerships with multiple sectors, while establishing a cohesive identity as an open resource.
• Promoting arts and cultural events through the Belfast Creative Coalition website, calendar syncing, networking, strategic planning, and streamlining promotions.
• Marketing Waldo County arts and culture locally and regionally, coordinating group ads, creating marketing products from the arts and culture sector that market Belfast’s three gems of art, local food and beautiful land.
• Facilitating “the business of art and culture” by fostering an entrepreneurial spirit amongst creatives, hosting artist networking nights and disseminating opportunities in education, technology, innovation and funding that prepare and sustain our creative workforce.
Spearheaded by Waterfall Arts, Our Town Belfast and the City of Belfast, BCC was created in January 2012 by the Creative Communities = Economic Development Grant from the Maine Arts Commission. The award established a coalition of arts and cultural groups, educational, nonprofit, business, and municipal leaders who have a “strong commitment to inter-sector collaboration” and are dedicated to economic and community planning and development in a comprehensive revitalization effort.
BCC’s core activities include:
Maintaining the Online Directory + Event Listings
BCC’s website hosts the public calendar and directory of the creative sector in Waldo County. The website platform offers tools to visitors such as advanced search, Google Maps, buttons to synchronize with various calendars, social networks widgets. This allows visitors to quickly find local events and arts and culture venues in the area.
The overall traffic for the site has grown steadily since its launch. The Google analytics show that the website sees traffic not only from visitors already in the Belfast area but also a substantial number of visitors from Bangor, Rockland, Portland, Boston, New York, Washington, and more. The longer site viewing durations from Boston and Portland visitors (almost 12 minutes and 8 ½ respectively, compared to 2 minutes on average from local visitors) suggest trip planning. The site has also established a solid referral base of 25%, indicating that other organizations are supportive and have added links to the BCC’s website. The site’s return rate (the percentage of visits made by previous visitors to the site) is an exceptionally high 43.86%.
Hosting the Monthly Calendar Sync
To coordinate Belfast area cultural efforts, the BCC formed the Calendar Sync monthly meeting. This meeting is made up of the core group of the BCC that includes the area’s major non-profits and event organizers, such as: the Belfast Free Library; the Belfast Co-op; the University of Maine Hutchinson Center; the City of Belfast; Waterfall Arts; Our Town Belfast; Belfast Arts; individual galleries and musical performers; and many others. From this monthly meeting the BCC creates the public events calendar, which is hosted on its arts and culture promotional website.
Calendar Sync Meetings are the last Wednesday of the month at Bell the Cat in Belfast at 9am. Come get a cup a coffee and join us.
Facilitating Collaborative Marketing Opportunities
Through the website and the calendar sync group, BCC has been able to organize group marketing opportunities. Over the years, we have created, supported and organized advertisements that promote the arts and cultural events of Belfast, attracting people and business to our area. BCC’s goal is to strengthen the creative economy and extend our shoulder seasons by attracting people from neighboring cities and the large tourist populations. BCC finds good marketing opportunities, negotiates prices, and brings together the contributing organizations for the advertisement.
We are working on organizing these efforts further by creating strategic arts and cultural marketing to our surrounding cities and tourists on their way to and from Bar Harbor.
BCC’s core programs include:
Cultivate: Belfast Area Farm & Art Tour
The public calendar and the artist directory housed in the BCC website make up the cultural itinerary for the Belfast Area. From this itinerary, BCC can create powerful arts and culture experiences. For example, BCC has created Cultivate, a Farm and Art trail. This trail ties together the gems of Waldo County: Art, Farms and Land and is aimed at attracting eco-cultural tourists. The eco-cultural tourist stays longer in an area and spends more money than the average tourist. Cultivate has a map brochure, and is also located in BCC’s map-rich website.
Professional Development Opportunities
BCC launched Artist Networking Nights where artists are provided a forum to gather, talk shop and stay up-to-date on business development opportunities. 100 artists heard Jackie Battenfield share her book “The Artist’s Guide: How to Make a Living Doing What You Love.”
Bringing valuable programs, critical to helping self-employed artists, small gallery entrepreneurs, and non-profits manage their careers and businesses, is a strategic and significant accomplishment of BCC.
Look for a new professional development seminar series to start in early winter 2016.
Belfast Fourth Friday Art Walk
On every Fourth Friday the streets of Belfast are transformed into a whimsical wonderland to celebrate the warm summer evenings. From 5:30 until 8:00 pm you may follow the sound of music, where on any corner a fiddler, crooner or cool jazz soloist will entertain, or across the way a lively dancer will leap and whirl, a persuasive poet will wax eloquent, and perhaps a mime can charm you with silent illusion.
Explore imaginative art galleries that brighten up downtown, featuring both local and nationally recognized artists. Look for the ever-changing and always enticing Pop Up Art Tents coordinated by Our Town Belfast, ‘farm to gallery’ food tastings coordinated by Maine Farmland Trust and ‘Walking Art Host’ Robin Jones provides a ‘leisurely-crawl commentary’ (as opposed to a running commentary) on everything you’ll see during Art Walk.
Board and Staff
BCC’s Board and Committees meets bimonthly and is composed of leaders from local non-profits, government and the community, including:
BCC Board President: Martha Piscuskas – Co-director Waterfall Arts Program Director
Vice-President: Thomas Kittredge – Director of Economic Development, City of Belfast
Treasurer: Betty Johnson – Waldo County Commissioner
Stacey White – Educator, Set Decorator, Writer
Robin Jones – Director, Actor
Susan Hill – Collaborative Arts / Educator
BCC’s small team is comprised of three part-time staff members:
Emily Baer – Executive Director
Julia Clapp – Membership Coordinator / Administrative Staff
Tony Chiodo – National Able volunteer / Staff Writer + Photographer
Join our efforts!
There are many ways to become involved with the Belfast Creative Coalition:
- Become a member!
- Support our work by making a one time or recurring tax-deductible donation
- Post your Events to our online directory
- Become a site on the Belfast Art Walk or the Cultivate: Farm & Art Tour
- Participate in the Calendar Sync Meetings or Artist Networking Nights.
- Volunteer at area events our in our office
- Consider joining the Board
- “Like” us on Facebook and sign up for our monthly Newsletter on the home page of our website
- Share us with a BCC button on your website
More information on BCC Volunteer Opportunities:
- BCC Oversight Committee – Responsible for budgets, community outreach, board development and staff oversight
- BCC Marketing Committee – Responsible for marketing and promotions
- Belfast Arts Committee – Oversees the Belfast Fourth Friday Art Walks
- Cultivate Committee – Oversees the Cultivate Trail and Fall Tour
- BCC Fundraiser – Annual BCC Fundraiser
- Other: Add directory listings and calendar events to the website, volunteer at BCC Events, distributing promotional materials, and hang posters. Also the 2016-2017 Creative Economy Study for Waldo County – help distribute surveys for this important study.
BCC’s committees include the Oversight Committee, the Marketing Committee, the Belfast Art Walk Committee, and the Cultivate Committee – these committees are made up of additional ‘creatives’ and organizations, including: Our Town Belfast, Waterfall Arts, Maine Farmland Trust, local gallery owners, and individual artists.
To find out more, please contact Emily Baer at firstname.lastname@example.org