WATERVILLE — Jane Chu, chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Arts, praised the work being done in Waterville to promote arts and culture and make it accessible to people of all ages and walks of life.

Chu visited Railroad Square Cinema on Tuesday morning with U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, and Julie Richard, executive director of the Maine Arts Commission, to tour the theater and meet with those who are working to enhance and strengthen the vitality of the city and promote it as a major arts destination.

They heard presentations by Shannon Haines, executive director of the Maine Film Center and director of the Maine International Film Festival, and Nate Rudy, executive director of Waterville Creates! Waterville Creates! is a consortium of arts and cultural groups working with community arts, creative and cultural organizations. Haines and Rudy spoke about ongoing efforts to promote arts and culture through partnerships and collaboration with Waterville Main Street, Colby Museum of Art, MaineGeneral Health and Inland Hospital, Waterville Opera House, Common Street Arts, the annual film festival, Waterville Public Library and other venues.

“This is something that you can be very proud of,” Chu told a group of about 30 people who attended the event. “You have not only the short-term view – you have the long-term view. Congratulations. Not every community has that.”

Those attending included state Rep. Henry Beck, D-Waterville, Waterville Main Street Executive Director Jennifer Olsen, Waterville Creates! marketing director Dick Dyer and Patricia King, associate director at Colby Museum of Art.

Chu was in Waterville at the invitation of Pingree, who accompanied her to Portland on Monday, where they visited the Portland Museum of Art; The Telling Room, a writing center on Commercial Street; and the Veterans Resource Center at University of Southern Maine.

Chu was scheduled to visit Bates College Museum of Art and Somali Bantu Community Association on Tuesday afternoon in Lewiston and travel to Brunswick on Wednesday to visit Spindleworks, the Bowdoin International Music Festival site on Park Row and the Bowdoin Museum of Art.

This story will be updated.

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