When Julie Richard took over as director of the Maine Arts Commission, she promised to bring a fresh perspective and effective arts advocacy.
With hopes of delivering on both counts, Richard and her staff are hosting the Maine International Conference on the Arts from Oct. 24 to 26 at the Collins Center for the Arts at the University of Maine in Orono.
The conference targets artists, arts administrators, educators and community leaders.
“We have about 10 speakers who are coming from around the country who are true leaders in their field and have great stories to tell,” Richard said. Many are friends and acquaintances of Richard’s from her days in Arizona, South Carolina and other places.
Lynn Tuttle is director of arts education at the Arizona Department of Education. She will talk about arts standards and assessment in education.
Doug Borwick writes the arts blog “Engaging Matters” for ArtsJournal (artsjournal.com/engage) and is author of “Building Communities, Not Audiences: The Future of the Arts in the U.S.” He’ll talk about how arts organizations need to engage their communities differently.
“It’s not just about getting butts in seats, but about connecting with communities,” Richard said.
Peter Watson is a Mainer associated with the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine. He’ll discuss what it means to be a good leader and the challenges of leadership. He’ll offer tips and tricks to be a better leader.
Finally, the monologist Mike Daisey will close the conference. He grew up in Fort Kent and outside of Bangor, went to Colby College in Waterville and now makes his home in New York City. His monologues are often biographical and reference Maine. His piece “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” was downloaded 100,000 times the week it became available, and the touring show was named one of the year’s best theater pieces across the country. He acknowledged making exaggerated or fabricated claims in the monologue about Chinese labor and was forced to retract parts of it.
“I plan to talk about my evolution as an artist, specifically coming out of Maine. As a kid, even the idea of using the word ‘artist’ seemed highfalutin and ridiculous,” he said in a phone interview. “I remember feeling that being an artist wasn’t work that deserved respect.”
As a performer, he felt he had to leave Maine to make a life. “I still struggle with that. I struggle with the fact that I did leave,” he said. “I’ll talk about what it was like coming from Maine and wanting to make a life as an artist, and the difficulties of making that transition.”
The first day of the conference will be dedicated to arts education, with a broad discussion about arts assessment and the challenges of teaching in a standards-based environment.
There are workshops on public art, featuring Steuben sculptor Jesse Salisbury, who initiated the Schoodic International Sculpture Symposium. Stonington’s Opera House Arts executive director Linda Nelson and Millinocket gallery owner and painter Marsha Donahue will talk about strategic thinking in a business climate. There are sessions on arts funding, arts and the media, how to build a festival and create an event, intellectual property protection, how to build a portfolio, and performing in rural areas.
Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at: