Letter to the Editor: Cultural community ready to lend a hand

To the Editor:

Dear Governor Mills:

From our unique vantage points within Maine’s cultural sector, we wish to extend our deepest gratitude for your thoughtful leadership and careful guidance during this unprecedented crisis, the magnitude and end of which we know is not yet in sight.

Few know better than you that these challenging times require all Maine citizens to work together. We, representing the broadest definitions of Maine’s significant and vibrant cultural community, stand ready to partner with you in moving our state forward, both in the near and long term.

Maine holds a distinct place in history, a diverse cultural landscape and a unique sense of place that is nationally and internationally revered. Our art, architecture, museums, festivals, traditions, historic sites, residency programs and creative makers uniquely identify Maine to the world, and our events attract millions of residents and visitors each year, sustaining critical economic markets throughout our state and within our communities.

Maine’s cultural sector creates jobs, strengthens the tax base and makes our communities better and more desirable places to live and work. Like our forests, rivers and other natural resources, Maine’s cultural assets are among the central elements that define our people and the state we call home.

During this unprecedented time, our cultural community is looking to help heal our state, economically and emotionally. The work of the cultural sector reflects the imagination, innovation and collaborative nature of Maine’s best traditions. This sector also helps us navigate our complicated history and confront unjust systems. We partner to solve problems, and our outcomes honor the Maine ethic of working toward a common goal to accomplish great and inspirational things. The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to stand up for Black lives and create space for people of color require creative solutions, and we are prepared to assist you and other Maine leaders in those important strategic conversations.

We stand united and ready to do our part in the rebuilding and reopening of our state with care and deep consideration. We recognize that the specifics will vary within each of our sectors, yet we stand together. For example, the leading museums are working together to coordinate and adopt similar protocols for safe re-openings. While our theaters, venues and festivals will be some of the last to return, their leaders are actively collaborating both nationally and internationally to reimagine the experience of live engagement with the arts.

Maine’s outstanding culture is an essential tool on the road to recovery and must play a visible role for all to see, emulate and trust.

Linda Nelson and Stuart Kestenbaum, Deer Isle

This letter also was signed by more than 100 other representatives of Maine’s arts and culture community.

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