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RED TAPE - Report lacks way forward

A 20-page report on Portland’s “creative economy,” supplemented by 100-plus pages of “attachments,” used dozens of buzzwords to rehash a meeting that happened six months ago, and left to the imagination most specifics about who, or what, will happen next in the city's efforts to support artists.

The folks being nominated to pick up the torch as part of the Creative Economy Steering Committee, who are expected to be confirmed by the Portland City Council on December 4, were not named in the report, but as identified by city planning director Lee Urban, are:

Adam Ayan of Gateway Mastering
Jim Baker, president of MECA
Tom Blackburn, an artist and member of the Bayside Neighborhood Association
Gillian Britt, public-relations consultant to many of the big arts organizations in town
Doug Green of Green Design Furniture
Art Henson of Henson Advertising
Pandora LaCasse, whose light sculptures grace the downtown every winter
Kristen Levesque, marketing and PR director of the Portland Museum of Art
Joe Malone of Malone Commercial Brokers
Rose Marasco, a USM professor and artist
Dan Minter, the artist working on the plaques for the Portland Freedom Trail
Anita Stewart, artistic director of Portland Stage Company
Joe Wood, provost of USM
Steve Woods, president of Key Bank in Maine

Urban says councilor Jim Cohen, who spearheaded pro-creative economy efforts during his year as mayor, and incoming councilor Dave Marshall, are likely to be the city's representatives to the group.

Those 14 non-councilors were nominated by an informal working group that has been meeting with Urban for the past couple of years, including Ron Spinella, owner of Three Fish gallery and a member of the Bayside Community Development Corporation; Jess Tomlinson, from MECA, PACA, and the Maine Arts Commission; Nelle Hanig, from the city's Economic Development Division, and David Swardlick of Swardlick Marketing.

The steering committee, once appointed, will meet in January and begin work to implement the "top three opportunities" identified at the summit: "connect [the] audience to artists," "publicly supported and/or affordable public space for artists," and "build Portland's identity as an international creative center."

In official-speak, the committee will be “tasked with moving Portland’s creative economy and the Portland creative community forward to the next level.” No word on whether that level is where we face the intense creativity of Mother Brain from the Metroid game series.

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