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Updated: June 5, 2024

Bangor launches marketing collaborative to promote arts and culture scene

The Waterfront Concert series in Bangor attracts a big crowd of people. Photo / COURTESY, WATERFRONT CONCERTS Seen here in 2021, the Waterfront Concert series is a robust part of Bangor’s arts and culture scene.

A downtown Bangor nonprofit is looking to boost the city's arts and culture economy through a new promotional effort called the Bangor Arts and Culture Collaborative.

In January, the Downtown Bangor Partnership received an $18,000 enterprise marketing grant from the Maine Office of Tourism, along with a match grant from the city, to convene arts and culture stakeholders with the goal of developing a common marketing strategy. 

Although the city has visitor draws including the Waterfront Concert series, plus theater, dance and public art, such organizations typically have small marketing budgets. 

“Many arts and culture organizations are investing in keeping the lights on and the performances flowing and don’t have extra money to spread the word about what they are doing,” said Betsy Lundy, the Downtown Bangor Partnership’s executive director.

“Cultural assets like statues and public art have zero dollars to attract attention and rely on civic or philanthropic efforts to garner attention.”

Betsy Lundy sits at a bar.
Betsy Lundy

The city’s arts and culture scene has reached a critical mass able to attract tourists — but needed a boost in financing to make it happen, she said.

And the nature of funding the Downtown Bangor Partnership itself receives doesn’t allow for promoting other assets like the Gracie Theatre and the Cole Transportation Museum, which are outside the downtown district.

The partnership hosted a series of focus groups was held and the name Bangor Arts and Culture Collaborative emerged as a concept for the group, along with the tagline, “The art and soul of Maine.” 

“The group felt strongly about putting ‘culture’ first in the title, as it often comes second and it is such an important part of the community identity,” Lundy said.

The collaborative seeks to highlight the arts and culture economy in Bangor through a new website called Funds will be used to place targeted advertising to drive visitors to the site and from there to the websites of individual organizations.

The Downtown Bangor Partnership launched the website and will begin tracking visitor engagement. 

The enterprise marketing grant program is designed to support the marketing of tourism-related projects of organizations, said Chiara Moriconi, a senior tourism officer with the Maine Office of Tourism. 

“Bangor has valuable ‘anchors’ capable of bringing people to the area, making the city a great place to visit and live, while adding value to the area businesses,” said Anne Krieg, the city’s community and economic development director. 

Arts and culture perform functions that serve residents, visitors and the business community, she said. However, she added, “we need to do more to promote our assets outside our local community.”

Every dollar spent on arts and entertainment generates three times the spending in return yielding over $10 million in local revenue annually, according to a 2017 analysis of Bangor’s arts and cultural economy. The Arts and Economic Prosperity Five Study was conducted by Americans for the Arts, a national nonprofit for advancing the arts in the U.S. 

According to the study, the nonprofit arts and culture sector is a significant industry in Bangor. Of the $10 million in total economic activity, the spending includes $3.4 million by nonprofit arts and cultural organizations and $6.6 million in event-related spending by audiences.

The Downtown Bangor Partnership promotes and markets activities designed to enhance the identity of downtown Bangor and encourage retention and growth of commercial, residential, and cultural life within the downtown district.  

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