Community Meeting in Bridgton Kicks Off Advocacy Meetings Around the State

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Oct 292017

MAAE’s initiative to organize community/school advocacy coalitions around the state got a good start on Tuesday evening, Oct. 24 in Bridgton, where members of the community met with school arts teachers and students for a Community Conversation about arts education in the local MSAD #61. Downtown Bridgton’s Gallery 302, which hosts the MSAD’s annual student art show and runs a student scholarship program, hosted the meeting.

The evening began with an Open House that featured a display of student artwork brought in by Lake Region High School visual art (and dance) educator Carmel Collins

and student voices, in four-part harmony, under the direction of MSAD#61 music educator Eugene Long.

The students (left to right) were Emma Walker, Paige Goldstein,  Matt Mayo and Sean Buchanan.

Refreshments were also part of the festivities!

The “meeting” itself began with a presentation by the students, who spoke movingly about their own personal journeys in the arts and what the arts have meant to each of them. Their words prompted some of the artists in the audience to share their experiences as well!

Then Susan Potters, MAAE Executive Director, spoke to the group about the community’s role in keeping arts education strong at MSAD#61. She described new opportunities for that involvement offered by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which has replaced NCLB (No Child Left Behind).

The attendees signed up to be kept in the loop about district plans and opportunities to participate. Carmel will be staying in touch with them as she finds out more about MSAD # 61’s planning process.

More such community meetings are being around the state in the coming months. The meetings coming up soon are in Bar Mills, hosted by the Saco River Theatre (10/30), Winter Harbor, hosted by Schoodic Arts for All (11/7) and Eastport, hosted by the Eastport Arts Center (11/14). Those who want to learn if a meeting is being planned for their community, or who are interested in help with organizing one can contact Susan Potters at And everyone can get statewide advocacy updates by clicking on “Stay in the Loop” on this website.

Maine Student Artwork Selected for Screensaver Challenge

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Apr 102017
Twenty Maine student artists will have an audience of more than 70,000 students and educators for their artwork starting this fall.
More than 200 students submitted images to be considered for the Maine Department of Education (DOE), Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) Screensaver Challenge.
An annual tradition of the Maine DOE, students in grades K-12 can submit artwork at the beginning of the year to be selected for display. The images are scored and selected by an independent panel of three judges.
The winning student artists will have their work showcased on MLTI devices for the 2017-18 school year. In addition, the student artists will have their registration fees waived for the 2017 MLTI Student Conference, and their winning pieces will be printed and displayed at the Department of Education’s Augusta offices from June 1 – August 31, 2017.
  • Griffin Vulture, Anna Labbe, Grade 10, Freeport High School
  • Abstract Ocean Life, Elizabeth Young, Grade 9, Freeport High School
  • Duck at Dawn, Bennett Hight, Grade 12, Freeport High School
  • Fallen Leaves, Zoe Fox, Grade 12, Freeport High School
  • Lights of the City, Griffin Agnese, Grade 11, Freeport High School
  • House Barn, Julian Lindholm Fiske, Grade 12, George Stevens Academy
  • Beneath the Surface, Corinne Ahearn, Grade 9, Greely High School
  • Eel Life, Maddie Hall, Grade 8, Greely Middle School
  • Knot a View, Alexis Merchant, Grade 10, Jonesport-Beals High School
  • Seeing Through, Emily Segal, Grade 7, Lincoln Middle School
  • Dandelion, Ana Rogers, Grade 9, Mount Desert Island HS
  • Scraffito, Erin Corcoran, Grade 8, Oceanside Middle School
  • Dream, Zabina Zimmerman, Grade 1, Pond Cove Elementary School
  • Bikes, Megan Gordon, Grade 11, Camden Hills Regional High School
  • Children’s Space, Corilie Green, Grade 10, Freeport High School
  • Wolf, Grace Neal, Grade 11, George Stevens Academy
  • Hummingbird, Toni MacDonald, Grade 12, Houlton Middle/High School
  • Moose, Blair Tweed, Grade 11, Wells High School
  • Lost and Forgotten, Samuel Livingston, Grade 12, Wells High School
  • Umbrella, Lauren Dow, Grade 10, Wells High School
For more information about the Maine Learning Technology Initiative Screen Saver challenge visit:

March 30th – Deadline for comments to the DOE!

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Mar 272017

An important opportunity exists right now for us to have a major impact on arts education in Maine schools. The Maine Department of Education is calling for public comment, via email, on the state plan required under the new ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) legislation. Unlike its predecessor, NCLB (No Child Left Behind), ESSA requires states to choose at least one measure of school quality or success besides math and English language proficiency, graduation rates, and English language learning. Measures or indicators of school quality are extremely important as they are the basis for school accountability systems, which drive district priorities around funding, program choices and course offerings.

There are at least three states (CT, KY and NJ), that Maine can look to who have already chosen to include access to, or participation in arts education as one of their accountability measures. It is crucial that during the public comment period, which ends on March 30th, we advocate that an additional measure of school quality in arts education be added to Maine’s plan!

The strength of our advocacy during the public comment period will make a difference. We need as many of you as possible to send emails by March 30th to Emails can be sent by everyone – educators, parents, students and members of the community. You don’t have to be directly involved in arts education in order to advocate for it. Advocacy from those outside the field who nevertheless believe that arts education is important for good education is just as persuasive!

Here is a template to guide you in composing your emails. The more you can personalize this the better, but the main thing is to send in an email (and if you copy and paste, make sure you delete the instructions in the template!)

Dear Members of the Department of Education,
I am …………………(describe who you are and where you live/work/attend school.) I strongly suggest that access to or participation in arts education as a measure of school quality be added to the accountability system in Maine’s ESSA state plan. Arts education is vital to good education. (Give your reasons… these can include your own experiences with arts education, and/or arguments shown by research such as arts education’s positive impact on the following):
* Problem solving and critical thinking,
* Development of skills in non-arts academic content areas
* Development of sustained attention, motivation, independent work habits and persistence
* Engaging all students – including those with special needs, low-socio-economic backgrounds, and English language learners
* Improving school climate and culture
We know that school districts have to make priority decisions around limited funding, and often order these priorities based on what they are held accountable for. I urge you to add access to or participation in arts education to Maine’s accountability plan, so that more Maine schools can take advantage of the many benefits that arts education offers.

Please help to spread the word by forwarding this email to as many people as you can. This is an opportunity to make a big difference and we can do this!

Arts Education Advocacy Day 2017!

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Mar 272017

Arts Education Advocacy Day 2017 was a special day… when arts educators brought enthusiastic arts students from every county in the state to set up shop at the exhibit tables in the Hall of Flags and advocate one-on-one with their legislators.



And that was just the beginning! From SAD #33 in northern Aroostook County Charles Michaud’s music students came to provide music, and Theresa Cerceo’s Student Leadership Arts Movement (SLAM!) group demonstrated their strategies for keeping the arts front and center.



A “table-hopping” game of mutual interviews gave the students an excuse to meet each other, and the hall’s grand staircase once again provided the site for a group photo behind the ARRT banner. It also provided the audience space for our new-this-year Open Mic, organized by Maranacook HS art student (and stand-up comic!) Gavin Diou Cass.


Each of those performances was special… students reading their poems, singing and accompanying themselves to songs they had written… and who can forget Mikayla Smith’s impassioned speech about arts education!

At the formal noontime program Acting Commissioner Robert G. Hasson welcomed everyone on behalf of the Department of Education, advocate Mary Hermon urged the students to stay with their arts – and to stay in Maine!… and Argy Nestor read a speech from Julie Richard, director of the Maine Arts Commission. And there were more performances: Emma Campbell’s dance students from Thornton Academy performed (beautifully) a piece with some difficult and lyrical partnering; and we were all so moved by the group of formerly incarcerated youth from Maine Inside Out, whose original theater performance and heartfelt words afterward showed how much power the arts have to transform young lives.

This is an important time for arts education advocacy in Maine. Not only will we soon be learning the results of the Census of arts education in Maine schools, conducted by the Maine Arts Commission; but the ESSA federal regulations requiring a state plan this year and district plans next year are offering arts education advocates important opportunities to make their voices heard. Susan Potters urged everyone gathered at the Statehouse to stay tuned to be part of that advocacy, and encouraged all to visit MAAE’s website, and click on “stay in the loop” in order to receive announcements about it.

Advocacy Day 2017 – March 8th – A Call for Student Advocates!

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Nov 202016

MAAE is inviting arts educators and community arts program organizers to help us recruit enthusiastic arts students from each state legislative district to come to Advocacy Day 2017 at the Statehouse in Augusta on Wednesday, March 8th. The students (limit two per legislative district) will be matched with their state legislator, and will have an opportunity to talk with them one-on-one about why the arts mean so much to them. The students can be any age. Arts teachers, community arts program organizers and parents transporting the students are welcome as well. The program begins at 9:30 a.m. and will be over by 1 pm. Lunch will be provided.

To find out more, contact Susan Potters MAAE director at For a report and photos of this past year’s advocacy day, scroll down (past “BCTA Program Comes to Augusta”).


BCTA Program Comes to Augusta

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May 262016
This past month MAAE brought its Building Community Through the Arts creative theater program to the Boys and Girls Club in Augusta.
 The Boys and Girls Clubs give after school support to low income youth who are potentially at risk. At the Augusta Boys and Girls Club BCTA teaching artist Jeri Pitcher conducted an extended residency with seven youth, grades seven through nine. Working through group improvisation the students created an interactive theater piece and performed it for the rest of the club members and invited guests on May 5th at the Holocaust Center.
Titled “Runaway,” the piece described the situation of a teen-aged girl who, facing conflicts with her mother at home, struggles with how to deal with it. None of the options she considers – leaving home, staying out on the streets, or getting shelter with some older boys who promise drugs as well as shelter, are healthy ones, and the audience at the end is asked, “what would you do?”
The students’ work was focused and intense, and the discussion at the end was lively as the audience debated the various options, including how the relationship with her mother could have been repaired, so that she felt more comfortable at home.
Augusta Boys and Girls Club Director Darren Joyce is hoping that the Club’s partnership with MAAE will continue:   “Thanks to the Maine Alliance for Arts Education, the Augusta Boys and Girls Club had an incredible highlight to our school year with the opportunity to have a drama residency with Jeri Pitcher.  Our Club is a teen center and our staff can only provide a handful of options and maintain the safe atmosphere needed.  Having a partnership with MAAE allowed our program to offer youth who were always interested in drama but often lacked the confidence to give it a try.  Jeri encouraged their voice and choice in creating a piece to present.  The youth were absolutely beaming after being able to perform in front of their peers and in front of an audience of college students.  Many for the first time felt like they were rock stars, and thanks to Jeri’s encouragement, they really were!  I hope a collaboration between the Club and MAAE continues for many years, as the value for kids is immense!”

Advocacy Day: the State House was rocking!

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Mar 272016
If anyone doubted that students who love the arts aren’t a joyous and dedicated bunch, they needed only to stop in at Thursday’s Arts Education Advocacy Day at the State House. Over 200 students of mostly high school age, but also younger, brought their enthusiasm and energy to the Statehouse. The students – brought by teachers, parents and chaperones and in some cases community arts organizations – came from every county in the state and in some cases every senate and house district, to speak about their passion for the arts with their legislators. They held up signs with their legislators’ names on them to connect with them in the third floor hallway…dsc_2144_std  dsc_2125_std
and connect they did!
dsc_2183_thm ..including with Representative Ryan Fecteau (above),
dsc_2145_std         … Representative Craig Hickman (above),
dsc_2065_thm    … Representative Henry Bear (above),
dsc_2351_std         …Representative Erik Jorgensen (above),
dsc_2052_thm(1)        … Representative Charlotte Warren (above)
                                                                   … and with Representative Stanley Short.
Some groups were even shown into the Chambers themselves –
One group was shown into Senate President Michael Thibodeau’s office.
The Hall of Flags itself, full of students, student art, and exhibits from arts organizations, never looked more beautiful.
County signs made by the Westbrook High School art team led by Deb Bickford served not only to define the exhibits, but were great for a photo shoot of each county’s delegation.


Tarah Waters, photographer and Eastport Arts Center Fellow, said on Facebook: “Celebrating Arts Education at the Maine state house. Representing Washington County with 4 brilliant students and art work from all over the county. Feeling a great vibe here today!!”
Kristy Cyr: “Hannah Peacock and Makaila Bailey representing Somerset County at the Maine Arts in Education Advocacy Day!”
A jazz combo from SAD 4, directed by teacher Paavo Carey, set a festive mood.
Once all the students returned from their meetings, teaching artist Katenia Keller led the whole group in a mass dance workshop.dsc_2280_thm
Then the students cheerfully squeezed onto the broad main staircase for a group photo shoot, behind the colorful banner that had been created by ARRT, the Artist Rapid Response Team, for this occasion, with MAAE’s mission emblazoned on it: “All the Arts for All Maine Students!”


The students stayed on the staircase to watch a reading of original poems by a student group from Edward Little High School in Auburn. dsc_2318_thm(1)
The Auburn students also posted a photo of themselves outside the State House!
After the legislators themselves came downstairs a formal program included remarks by Acting Commissioner of the Department of Education, William Beardsley; Maine Arts Commission Arts Education Director, Argy Nestor; Farnsworth Museum Education Director, Roger Dell; Maine Resilience Building Network Co-facilitator, Sue Mackey Andrews; and Arts Education Program Manager at Americans for the Arts, Jeff Poulin.
There were also student performances: by the Biddeford Intermediate School Select Chorus, conducted by Andrea Wollstadt;
by a Bangor High School English class, working with teaching artist Katenia Keller, which had choreographed a dance collaboratively;
and by SLAM! a group of students from SAD 33 in Aroostook County advised by Theresa Cerceo, which performed an art advocacy group speaking piece.
It was a full day! But this Advocacy Day’s significance as a day of firsts was in the students themselves… not only in their sheer number (a first for the State House), but also as a statewide gathering of students involved in all art forms – visual art, music, dance, theater and poetry – meeting each other and feeling empowered. So this day was a first, but it wasn’t the last! We hope to have more opportunities like this one – stay tuned!

Artists at Westbrook High School Make Signs for Advocacy Day!

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Feb 292016

A big Thanks! to Deb Bickford, president of the MAEA, her Westbrook HS colleague Matt Johnson and their National Art Honor Society students Abby St. Clair, Jenessa Corbett and President Trina Sayed. All five have been hard at work designing and creating the 16 county signs that will be up on 8-foot posts behind each table at the Hall of Flags on March 24th.

DSC_0073 (1)

 Trina Sayed, 2016 Westbrook High School NAHS President

The beautiful signs show each county’s distinctive shape enlarged against a handpainted background, and also its place within the shape of the state.


 The county by county organization of the tables at this year’s Advocacy Day is only one part of MAAE’s focus on arts education for students in the whole state. The length and breadth of the state will also be represented by student lobbyists coming to speak one-on-one with their legislators from every county, and in some cases from every house and senate district in that county. If you haven’t yet registered, join us, and if you’re an arts teacher let us know about a student who might want to attend! The form for registering your interest is

The student lobbying begins at 9:30 am. Our program of speakers and student performances in the Hall of Flags will take place between noon and 1 pm. We look forward to seeing you there!

For more information contact Susan Potters at

Help Make Arts Education Day 2016 a Success!

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Jan 112016

Registration for MAAE Arts Education Advocacy Day, Thursday, March 24th, is now open! And attending yourself is only one of the ways you can register your interest and support.

In this year of increased statewide attention to arts education generated by the Arts Commission’s Census of arts ed in all Maine schools, MAAE’s Advocacy Day will be sending a message to all of the state’s legislators that every Maine student deserves access to quality arts education at school. Our lobbying at the Statehouse in Augusta this year will be a full court press! We’re inviting our best advocates… young people… to come to Augusta from every senate and house district in the state…..first to tell their legislators how the arts have been important to them in one-on-one lobbying outside the senate and house chambers between 9:30 and 11 a.m. then to invite their legislators to come downstairs to the Hall of Flags to meet more of their constituents at the tables, which will be organized this year by counties and hosted by delegations from the whole community. All are invited to be at their county’s table to talk to their legislators when they come downstairs.

Register at if you plan to attend on March 24th yourself, if you can help us to identify a student who can attend, or if you just want to be kept in the loop about all the excitement!

And feel free to contact me at if you have any questions.

Thanks for your support!

Arts Education Advocacy Day is March 24th!

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Dec 162015
Save the date! Thursday, March 24th, is Maine Alliance for Arts Education Advocacy Day! This year’s Advocacy Day coincides with the Maine Arts Commission’s initiative of completing the Arts Education Census begun by MAAE in 2009 to find out the status of arts education in all of the schools in Maine. That includes those that are severely underserved in the arts.The Census work gives a new statewide focus and urgency to our arts education advocacy, not only to help make sure we get all of that information, which is due in April, but that we begin the work of advocating for arts education in those districts that are underserved. We won’t learn exactly which districts those are until next summer, but our work must begin now.MAAE’s Arts Education Advocacy Day at the Capital this year will reflect that new statewide focus. Our goal is to get as many of our state legislators as we can to meet one-on-one with arts lobbyists from their districts, first outside of the senate and house chambers and then at our event in the Hall of Flags. 

Our most persuasive arts lobbyists are the students. So this year we are inviting our alliance of adults around the state – that is educators, parents, artists, and leaders of arts organizations – to help us identify those students who would be able and willing to come to Augusta to meet and talk about what the arts have meant to them with their legislators outside the chambers in the morning of March 24th, and to invite the legislators to meet with them and more of their constituents at noon at the tables in the Hall of Flags. The tables will be set up this year by counties, not organizations, so that the Hall itself will reflect the state geographically, with large signs above each table displaying the county names.

As the day gets closer we will be asking you to register, so that we can keep track of which legislative districts our lobbyists represent, and which remain to be covered. In the meantime, we hope that you can set the day aside to come to Augusta and also find some student advocates to join you!  If you can’t take the day off, perhaps you can find a parent or other adult to bring the students.

If you have questions feel free to contact me by email or phone 207 439-3169

We look forward to seeing you on the 24th!