Tammy Ackerman of the nonprofit arts organization Engine is renovating the former Reny’s store along Main Street in Biddeford. In a telephone interview on Friday, Jan. 3, she encouraged people to fill out a cultural survey. John Patriquin/Portland Press Herald file photo

BIDDEFORD — Residents and other interested parties are asked to fill out a survey that gauges support and participation in Biddeford cultural events.

Those interested can fill in the Biddeford Cultural Coalition survey through Jan. 15

Tammy Ackerman, executive director of the arts organization Engine which is a member of the coalition, said the group is made up of Biddeford’s arts, cultural and heritage organizations “with culture being the broader umbrella.” The coalition also includes the McArthur Library, the City Theater, the Biddeford Mills Museum, the Biddeford Cultural and Heritage Center, the Biddeford Historical Society, the Franco-American Genealogical Society and La Kermesse Franco-Americaine.

The purpose of the coalition is for the members to be “more strategic in our collaboration,” she said.

In addition, Ackerman said, the city has some involvement with the group and the coalition “works with the city to be strategic about applying for grants.”

The survey, which can be found at https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/fe929ea6b45d4db9af4ff811c32dc2c7, asks a number of questions such as: How would you rate the availability of arts and culture in Biddeford; What motivates you to participate in arts and cultural activities; and How important is it to you that the city government financially support arts and cultural activities in Biddeford.

The survey, Ackerman said, is a way the city can gauge what type of cultural events people participate in and how often.

However, she said, from her perspective one of the most important questions is the one asking whether people want the city to financially support arts and cultural activities. If there are a high number who say that is important to them she and other arts, cultural and heritage organization leaders can use that as leverage with City Council to ask for financial support for cultural events and activities.

Since city budget season will begin soon, Ackerman said the results could be helpful to arts, cultural and heritage organizations in the new year.

The city’s business community has already participated in a similar survey.

“We conducted a survey of the business community last month to gauge how businesses see arts and culture organizations in terms of their importance to economic development and driving business generally in Biddeford,” Economic Development Coordinator Brad Favreau said.

Twenty-nine businesses responded, he said. “Not great, but enough to give us an idea of the attitude toward arts and culture.”

Highlights of the businesses’ responses, Favreau said, include: arts and cultural organizations improve the quality of life in Biddeford; arts and cultural organizations improve the image and identity of Biddeford; arts and culture organizations are good for the local economy and can bring new visitors to Biddeford; a plurality of respondents attended  four to six cultural events in the past year; and City Theater, Engine, Heart of Biddeford and McArthur Library are the four organizations with the greatest overall awareness in the business community.

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