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Celebrate the arts with ARTober

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Month-long event shines spotlight on Bangor's arts and culture

BANGOR The creative culture of a place often serves as a major catalyst for revitalization. The past decade has seen that energy permeate the City of Bangor, where we've seen a boom in cultural excitement exciting new restaurants and interesting shops and a wealth of artistic and entertainment options.

Recently, the surge of cultural celebration has been spearheaded by Bangor's Commission on Cultural Development, a volunteer group whose aim is to foster growth and expand awareness with regards to the arts and culture that Bangor has to offer.

Last year, the City of Bangor designated October as the 'Month of the Arts' as a way to celebrate the rapidly-growing and vital creative culture in the city. As part of that initial celebration, the Commission for Cultural Development created ARTober, a month-long series of over 50 events that brings attention to the vast and varied artistic and creative endeavors that take place here.

After the success of last year's celebration, the commission is once again partnering with numerous organizations, businesses and individuals to offer Bangor's second ARTober, which kicked off with a gathering at 58 Main on Sept. 30.

Emily Burnham is a member of the commission and an ARTober co-chair who played a major role in ARTober's beginnings and continues to help lead the way in this second year. Initially, it began simply by asking some questions.

'ARTober began with the focus groups and research done by Cultural Commission members in 2014 and early 2015, asking community members and arts leaders what they wanted to see the City do to help,' said Burnham. 'Out of that research came the idea of there being a specific month that highlighted arts and culture in Bangor.'

And just like that, they were on their way. But even though there was an idea of what to do, there was still plenty of work to be done in order to determine how to do it. For an event of this size, planning is key.

'Essentially, we begin soliciting artists and organizations for events in the spring -- there's an online form to fill out and people can submit whatever they want,' said Burnham.

And that's the thing while the commission and others are certainly steering the ship, ARTober is powered by Bangor's creative population. It's about not only creating new things, but building awareness of the wonderful artistic and creative excitement that's already here.

'The great thing about ARTober is that it's totally community driven,' Burnham said. 'These are all events that either already happen in Bangor or are created by people with a stake in our creative community. We're just providing a forum to shine a brighter spotlight on it.'

That spotlight is important; Bangor's cultural community is a vibrant one, but there's always room for growth. The arts are a vital part of the city's spirit, contributing not just culturally and socially but economically to Bangor's well-being. Events like ARTober are a chance to bring attention to that contribution and let people know just how rich in creativity their city is, according to Burnham.

'We want to let people right in Bangor know that they live in a place that's teeming with creative people and unique cultural opportunities, as well as hopefully letting folks outside of the Bangor region know that we're a destination for the arts.'

Of course, putting something like ARTober together isn't easy. As with any new creation, there are bound to be some growing pains; however, there's no doubt that lessons were learned and discoveries were made that will only serve to enhance the event as time goes on.

'Last year, we learned that you can never do too much marketing when it comes to an event like this,' said Burnham. 'We also learned that people are hungry for opportunities like this; the response was extremely positive, overall.'

One of the major contributors to ARTober's success thus far has been the ability to build relationships with engaged and reliable partners that share the commitment to expand arts and culture awareness in Bangor. Organizations such as the Downtown Bangor Partnership, the Maine Humanities Center, Waterfront Concerts and Launchpad have worked to help 'offer more programming and more operational support, whether it's social media support, financial support or letting us borrow a PA for a show,' Burnham said.

'We hope each year builds upon the last in terms of diversity of events scheduled,' she said.

Obviously, it takes a village to bring something like this to life. Burnham's fellow commission member Kierie Piccininni serves as ARTober co-chair; Elissa Young also on the commission joined Burnham and Piccininni in heading up this year's ARTober task force. There were plenty of other contributors to the cause as well.

'Zeth Lundy, who is our liaison from the City to the CCD, is also a huge help,' said Burnham. 'The Downtown Bangor Partnership allows us to use the Downtown Bangor Facebook page. We also had extremely generous support from Beal College, who provided financial backing for this year's ARTober, as well as the Maine Community Foundation.'

ARTober provides a fantastic opportunity for people near and far to see and celebrate Bangor's multitude of cultural offerings. There's an undeniable value inherent to the creative culture, both in terms of the individual and in terms of the community, and it's important that we enjoy and embrace that fact.

To paraphrase L.M. Montgomery, I'm so glad I live in a world where there are ARTobers.

(For more information about ARTober and upcoming events, you can visit bangormaine.gov/artober or pick up a flier at one of many downtown businesses or at City Hall.)

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A few ARTober offerings:

Even though it is just a few days into the month, ARTober has already been in full swing, with all manner of performances, lectures and exhibits. However, there's still a whole lot more where that came from.

Obviously, we don't have space for everything on the schedule there's just too much happening. Here's just a small selection of the remaining slate.

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October 1-31: Bangor Historical Society Ghostly Bangor Tours

Take the chance to tour Bangor and learn some of the Queen City's spookiest stories from a Bangor Historical Society guide. Tours will leave the Thomas Hill House, located at 159 Union St., at 7 p.m.; these tours will take place on Saturdays (Oct. 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29), Tuesdays (Oct. 11, 18 and 25) and Thursdays (Oct. 13 and 27). The cost is $10 per person; under 12 is $5.

October 1-31: University of Maine Museum of Art exhibits

The University of Maine Museum of Art presents works from the New Brunswick Arts Bank, featuring artists from the Canadian Maritimes, and 'Parallels,' works from Maine painter Philip Frey. UMMA is located at 40 Harlow St. and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; admission is free. These exhibits run through Dec. 31.

October 1-20: Bangor Art Society's annual Paint Bangor and Auction

Beginning on Oct. 1, artists will paint around Bangor, rendering whatever scenes catch their eye. On Oct. 20, participating artists will bring their work to the Tarratine Club on Park St., where it will be entered into a silent auction. Register online at bangorartsociety.com; the cost is $25 for BAS members, $30 for others and $35 the day of. The proceeds go to the artists and to benefit the Bangor Art Society.

October 5-31: 'Illustrators of Maine'

'Illustrators of Maine' features work by a cluster of illustrators from or associated with Maine; the group includes children's books illustrators Russ Cox and Hazel Mitchell, fantasy illustrator Wylie Beckert, scientific/medical illustrator John Norton and several others. At the Boyd Place Gallery at Boyd Place; exhibit runs through December.

OCTOBER 8: Maine Music Pop-Up Record Store

A crawl of pop-up stores taking place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. across various locations in downtown Bangor, made up entirely of the CDs, vinyl, tapes and other merchandise from Maine-based musicians of various genres. Headquarters at Launchpad offices, 84 Harlow St.

October 9-30: Robinson Ballet teaches 'Thriller'

Robinson Ballet teaches Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' dance, at 4 p.m. each Sunday in October at the Robinson studios at Union and Main. Free.

OCTOBER 12: Thomas Hill Standpipe Fall Foliage Tour

The tour takes place from 3-6 p.m. Learn history and see some beautiful fall foliage from atop the Standpipe promenade.

October 13: The Matisse Jazz Project

This performance - featuring Christopher Bakriges on Piano and Stanley Chepaitis on violin takes place at 7 p.m. at Husson University's Gracie Theatre. The project is music inspired by the iconic cut paper collage of Henri Matisse published in 1947 as 'Jazz.' Tickets online at gracietheatre.com.

OCTOBER 14-15: Bangor Book Festival

The Bangor Book Festival is taking place at the Bangor Public Library. As part of the Festival there will be a performance of 'On Immortality,' composed by Don Stratton on a text of George Santayana. Narrated by Rich Tozier and Nancy Ogle, performed by Swingmatism and conducted by Dan Barrett. For a full schedule of events, visit bangorpubliclibrary.org or like Bangor Book Festival on Facebook.

October 15: PinkRunway Fashion Show

The PinkRunway Fashion Show features original pieces created by local clothing designers and modeled by breast cancer survivors who have undergone breast reconstruction. The event takes place starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Cross Insurance Center. Tickets $50, benefits breast cancer charities.

October 18: Bangor Symphony Orchestra Pop-Up Concert

This pop-up event takes place at Nocturnem Drafthaus and starts at 7 p.m. The Ceolta Cello Duo features BSO cellists Noreen Silver and Marisa Solomon covering styles from Baroque to Folk, Celtic and more.

October 20 - November 6: 'Murder For Two'

Penobscot Theatre Company presents 'Murder For Two,' a musical murder mystery; performances are Wednesdays through Sundays at the historic Bangor Opera House. Tickets are available via penobscottheatre.org, at the box office, or by calling 942-3333.

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