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'Creative Portland' goes virtual to restore local art

With concert venues closed, and art galleries limiting the number of visitors, 'Creative Portland' is working to help artists navigate COVID-19.

PORTLAND, Maine — While doors to shops and restaurants slowly reopen, things are a little more tricky for artists who make a living showcasing work in a gallery or performing for a crowd of people. Creative Portland is a nonprofit organization created by the city to help local artists thrive. That's a struggle right now, but as its executive director Dinah Minot tells us, they're focused right now on helping shops reopen safely. 

"Many galleries or organizations are open by appointment, whereas others still have public facing closed doors and are working on virtual events or virtual camps," Minot says. Right now, Creative Portland is working on a public health awareness campaign thanks to a state-funded grant, that will help spread the message about safely entering galleries or supporting local art programs. 

They're also taking the message digital. "We are developing a cultural app made possible by a Maine Arts Commission grant that came out of the cultural planning process, and we found out from the community that they really wanted to increase access to artists and to studios and or arts organizations that you wouldn’t normally find when you pull into Portland as a tourist, or even for locals," explains Minot. "So this app will be a way-finding tool, a handheld device, where you can go by a cultural organization or a building like Space or MECA and you can scan a little plaque on the façade of their building to see who this organization is; what other arts or cultural organization is nearby; and there’s an AR component which is really fun - Augmented Reality video where you can actually see dancers that evening."

Creative Portland has released this press release with more details on best ways to support the local arts:

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What you can do to help: Buy Local Art; many art galleries are open. You can also hire artists. You can also donate to Creative Portland or directly to artists in the Artist Relief Fund

In lieu of First Friday Art Walks, you can see a list of virtual events at Creative Portland's website.