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.
Using a creative economy model, BCC integrates diverse community assets, building artistic, cultural and environmental partnerships throughout the richly endowed, yet diverse Waldo County.
Belfast is home to 6800 people with a county-wide population of over 30,000. The majority of the county is rural, with farmers, small businesses and creative entrepreneurs combining multiple jobs to make ends meet.
BCC serves all genders and ages throughout the 26 county communities. Artists, musicians, performers, farmers, craftsmen and environmentalists, as creative economy producers or users, are all part of our expanding and intertwining network.
BCC is Waldo County’s leading organization that acknowledges and promotes what artists of all genres, entrepreneurs and farmers produce, and highlights their inter-dependency, which, in effect, completes the circle of life-affirming energy on a small, human and local scale.
CULTIVATING ARTS & CULTURE FOR THE BELFAST AREA
BCC is a creative placemaking initiative community building 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.
• Coordinating 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 Board and Committees meets bimonthly and is composed of leaders from local non-profits, government and the community, including:
Martha Piscuskas – Co-director Waterfall Arts Program Director
Elaine Bielenberg – Community Advocate
Thomas Kittredge – Director of Economic Development, City of Belfast
Stacey White – Educator, Set Decorator, Writer
Robin Jones – Director, Actor
Susan Hill – Collaborative Arts / Educator
Betty Johnson – Waldo County Commissioner
BCC’s committees include the Organizational Committee, the Marketing Committee, the Belfast Art Walk, and the Cultivate Committee – these committees are made up of additional ‘creatives’ and organizations, including: Our Town Belfast, local gallery owners, Maine Farmland Trust, and individual artists.
There are many ways to become involved with the Belfast Creative Coalition:
- Sign up on the Website
- Post your Events
- Become a Site on the Farm and Art Studio Tour
- Participate in the Calendar Sync Meetings or the Artist Networking Nights.
- Volunteer – Volunteers are needed for organizing and hosting the Artist Networking Nights. Volunteers are also needed for data entry on the website.
- Consider joining the Board
- “Like” us on Facebook and sign up for the Newsletter on the home page of our website
- Share us with a BCC button on your website (Buttons are available under “About BCC”)
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
BCC’s Programs include:
CALENDAR SYNC MEETINGS
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.
ARTS AND CULTURE PROMOTIONAL WEBSITE
BCC’s arts and cultural promotional website is the public calendar and directory of the creative sector in Waldo County. The new website platform offers remarkable 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%.
CULTIVATE – FARM & ART TRAIL AND TOUR (LINK)
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. Ultimately, BCC will create an app that a visitor could type in their search criteria, i.e “in Belfast for eight days, like knitting and snowshoeing and have kids who want to gather eggs”. This app would then create tours based on this criteria.
GROUP MARKETING OPPORTUNITIES
Through the website and the calendar sync group, BCC has been able to organize group marketing opportunities, as well. BCC has 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.
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES
BCC has 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.