Students act in the SFOA grand finale performance, instructed by Dan Mills, July 23, at MDI High School's theater. PHOTO COURTESY OF SFOA

Arts camp makes full-capacity comeback

SFOA Executive Director Alex Newell Taylor discusses the program’s 2022 accomplishments and introduces student performances featured in the festival’s grand finale.

BAR HARBOR — Summer Festival of the Arts (SFOA) ended its first full summer program since 2019 last week with a live performance and art show at Mount Desert Island High School. 

The 44-year-old nonprofit organization holds an intensive three-week festival for kids with a variety of art and performance classes in July, as well as a weeklong Break Camp in February. 

SFOA Executive Director Alex Newell Taylor said that the summer program was founded in 1978.  

“Even though since the pandemic the camp has been held differently, we have operated every year consistently,” she said. 

Newell Taylor said the summer camp was held virtually in 2020 because the staff still didn’t feel right hosting it in person. In 2021, the summer festival had a very small program with a limited number of students and staff at the ArtWaves campus in Town Hill.  

 “Last year, we limited [the number] of students to 25 as opposed to how many students we normally have, which ranges between 75 and 125,” Newell Taylor said. 

This summer, the day camp was held in person at full capacity July 5-22. Live performances and presentations were held in the high school’s cafeteria and Higgins-Demas Theater on July 23. 

The camp’s class schedule consisted of five periods from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For each period, students could sign up for a class assigned to their age group. Class subjects ranged from art to dance to singing. 

This year, the camp’s finale performance and art show event was limited to students’ immediate families, but Newell Taylor hopes that will change in the future. 

The art show, held in the cafeteria, featured origami and handmade books crafted in instructor Paige DeLuc’s class, as well as other jewelry, photography, graphic art, paintings, drawings and marionettes.  

Featured in the day-long finale held at the Higgins-Demas Theater were hip hop dance performances, circus performances, improv theater and singing.  

In honor of late Islesford artist Ashley Bryan, SFOA students created art based on his works.

One of this year’s classes, taught by DeLuc, was called “Ashley Bryan: The Study of An Artist. It took its theme from the late, beloved local artist. The class’s final performance conveyed the students’ appreciation for Bryan’s books and art. 

Newell Taylor said most of the festival’s repeat students were happy to be back in person and she is grateful to everyone who made the change back to in person a smooth transition. 

For more information about SFOA, visit 


Ninah Rein

Ninah Rein

Writer at Mount Desert Islander
Ninah Rein, an MDI native, covers news and features in the Bar Harbor area. She is glad to be back in Maine after earning a bachelor's degree in San Diego from the University of California.
Ninah Rein

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