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BANGOR – Dirigo Reads, a program that aims to put a book in the hands of every Maine first grader each month during the school year by 2025, is announcing the addition of 24 schools that will participate in the program during the next school year. This brings the total number of participating schools to 50 for the 2021-2022 school year, and nearly doubles the number of estimated first graders in Maine to receive new books every month through the program.

“Last year, Dirigo Reads gave out more than 8,000 books to first graders in Maine,” said Karen Cashman, co-founder of Dirigo Reads. “In the span of two school years, Dirigo Reads has put more than 11,300 books in the hands of Maine kids. We are excited to continue seeing this program grow thanks to the enthusiasm of the schools, teachers, kids, parents, and the partners involved with this program.”

CONCORD, NH – Grants from the Northern Forest Destination Development Initiative will help 11 communities and organizations serve residents and visitors with improved outdoor recreation opportunities.

“This year’s funded projects include all kinds of trail development, from accessible community trails to mountain biking and an arts trail, as well beginner-level ski jump hills, mountain biking skills parks, visitor information and a safe crossings program,” said Joe Short, vice president of the Northern Forest Center. “The grant program invests in projects that support economic development and outdoor recreation opportunities for residents in our region’s rural communities.”

The program is an initiative of the Northern Forest Center in Maine and New Hampshire, offered in partnership with Northeastern Vermont Development Association and NEK (Northeast Kingdom) Collaborative in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. The initiative is supported by the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC).

PORTLAND — PortFringe, Maine’s Fringe Festival, will produce its sixth annual fundraising event, POP-UP Dante’s Inferno, on April 3at 7 p.m. via a live watch party online. To buy tickets or for more information about streaming-on-demand after the event, please head to

The pandemic has cast a long shadow over Portland’s usually vibrant performing arts community. Artists, companies, and venues have shuttered or are struggling to stay afloat. With shows cancelled for most of 2020 and into this year, performers of all stripes have been forced to go dormant or reinvent how they create. The unique energy of POP-UP has brought a new level of connection and invention to PortFringe. These fearless artists have stretched their skills and responded to the call to create art in a digital medium, some of them for the first time. PortFringe is back with the fierce injection of creativity that we’ve all needed.

ORONO — The University of Maine has unveiled its transformative $110 million athletic facilities master plan. The initiative honors Harold Alfond’s legacy of support for Maine education and athletics by providing modern facilities for all 17 varsity programs at Maine’s only Division I athletic program, and improving the overall UMaine student experience. 

In October, the Harold Alfond Foundation announced an historic $500 million investment in Maine and its people. The University of Maine System is to receive $240 million over 10-12 years, including $90 million in support for UMaine’s $110 million Athletics Facilities Master Plan.

ORONO — The University of Maine men’s basketball team has opted out of the remainder of the 2020–21 season due to challenges related to COVID-19.

The team reached a final decision on Feb. 12. President Joan Ferrini-Mundy and Director of Athletics Ken Ralph were informed and are in support of the decision. A team meeting with athletic administrators followed to outline the support available to team members as they navigate the rest of the year.

The men’s basketball program has not been cleared for practice or competition since Jan. 17. 

The Black Bears participated in nine games this season. During the campaign, Maine scored victories against New Hampshire and at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. 

ORONO — The University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center has been awarded $2.8 million from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to develop a rapid, low-cost additive manufacturing — 3D printing — solution for fabricating large, segmented wind blade molds. 

In addition, the UMaine Composites Center will collaborate on a $4 million award to Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to apply robotic deposition of continuous reinforcing fibers in wind blades. 

BANGOR – A group of students from the University of Maine are planning to light up Bangor this weekend.

The event – titled “Light Bright” – will be taking place on December 12 from 5-7 p.m. on Central Street in Bangor. The public is welcome to join and watch as the student work plays out.

Students in the University of Maine’s Intermedia program were challenged to develop a community-based project that would provide some of the magic of the city’s traditional holiday parade, yet situate it within the reality of current need for safety and distancing.

Using state-of-the-art technology and the collective imagination of artists whose practices range from sculpture, ceramics, film, community arts, textile and animation, a multimedia installation was created.

The graduate students contributing to the event are Ian Beckett, Arturo Camacho, Adriana Cavalcanti, Lia Davido, Armando Garma, Thomas Griffith, Reed Hayden, Katarina Hoeger, Heidi Kraepel, Rochelle Lawrence and Anna Martin.

Tuesday, 17 November 2020 17:06

Maine Arts Commission announces 2021 Fellows

AUGUSTA – Exemplifying artistic excellence, the Maine Arts Commission is honoring seven Maine artists – this year’s recipients of the Commission’s 2021 Fellowship awards.  The Arts Commission is celebrating Dianne Ballon, Gabriel Frey, Sarah Haskell, Jocelyn Lee, Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, Michael O., and Tim Whitten for their artistic achievements. 

The Maine Artist Fellowship awards each recipient $5,000 based on one of the following categories: Belvedere Handcraft, Fine Craft, Literary Arts, Multimedia/Film, Performing Arts, Traditional Arts, and Visual Arts.

“Congratulations to this year’s fellowship winners,” said Julie Richard, Executive Director of the Maine Arts Commission. “This year’s cohort of Fellows is uniquely diverse – reflecting the growing range of demographics across our state. There were many qualified applicants and it is always difficult for our panels to choose just one. Our 2021 Fellows should be especially proud of this accomplishment.”

ORONO — Alumni and friends of the University of Maine will gather online Oct. 16–18 for what organizers describe as “the most unique Homecoming in UMaine’s history.”

As in the past, UMaine’s annual Homecoming — an event which normally attracts more than 10,000 visitors to Orono each October — will feature a variety of social events, programs, sports and entertainment. However, this year those activities will be presented as virtual events — both live and prerecorded — due to pandemic-related health and safety precautions.

“As the saying goes, when life gives you lemons, turn those lemons into lemonade,” says Annie Cutler, vice president of the UMaine Alumni Association and Homecoming coordinator. “It became evident months ago that Homecoming could not be held as an in-person event. So, with President (Joan) Ferrini-Mundy’s enthusiastic support, we’ve pulled together dozens of programs and activities that alumni and friends can enjoy from a cozy chair or couch at home.”

The UMaine Alumni Association has a long history of bringing people together in the name of Maine’s flagship university, and it will do it again this year, says President Ferrini-Mundy.

“During the pandemic we’ve learned a number of lessons, including how to continue to gather, celebrate and have important conversations with people from all over, remotely, and the Alumni Association has been a leader in this area,” says President Ferrini-Mundy. “We will miss seeing everyone on campus for Homecoming this year, but the online offerings will continue the tradition of bringing Black Bear Nation together.”

As detailed on Homecoming’s website, programming starts on Friday, Oct. 16 at noon EST with a welcome and Q&A session with President Ferrini-Mundy. It will be followed by a presentation by Habib Dagher, executive director of the Advanced Structures and Composites Center, who will explain and demonstrate the cutting-edge offshore wind power technology developed at the UMaine facility.

Other featured virtual programming on Friday includes an interview and Q&A session featuring Political Science Professor Richard Powell, UMaine 2020 Distinguished Maine Professor Award recipient; socials and presentations offered by a variety of academic departments; a dress rehearsal of the Pride of Maine Black Bear Marching Band; “Stargazing,” hosted by UMaine’s Versant Power Astronomy Center from its Jordan Planetarium; and a wide assortment of on-demand videos related to the university’s history and alumni. 

Saturday’s agenda includes more virtual socials and gatherings. Black Bear Athletics will be hosting a virtual “Tailgate Party,” along with a replay of UMaine’s 2018 Homecoming football game against Albany. University faculty members currently involved in COVID-19-related research will discuss and answer questions about the pandemic. Several academic units, alumni groups and clubs will hold virtual socials throughout the day. On-demand video programming will remain available, including the Collins Center for the Arts’ popular “Six Picks” performance series.

Sunday’s offerings include continued access to all on-demand programming and online shopping opportunities featuring Maine crafters, the Alumni Association’s online store, and University Bookstore.

Wednesday, 07 October 2020 11:52

ARTober goes virtual

BANGOR – October is still a month to celebrate the arts in Bangor.

As with many events during this time of COVID, ARTober, a celebration now in its fifth year, is taking a different form. Instead of an in-person kickoff event at the Bangor Arts Exchange to highlight and celebrate the arts that enrich our city, Bangor’s Commission on Cultural Development is hosting a Virtual ARTober.

Information is available on the Commission’s expanded Facebook presence and on a new website:

This year’s ARTober will highlight a different aspect of the arts in Bangor for a full week in October. The breakdown is as follows:

■       The week of October 5 celebrates Performing Arts

■       The week of October 12 celebrates Music

■       The week of October 19 celebrates the Visual Arts

■       The week of October 26 celebrates the Written Word

There will be links to artists and arts groups, links to events, a taste of performances and a few events. One such event will be Listen at Lunch,taking place at noon each day during the week of October 26. Listen at Lunch features readings from Bangor writers, poets and those who appreciate the written word.

Those wishing to be included in this celebration can fill out the form on the bangorartober website. The committee is collecting descriptions, videos, photographs, and links to the many creative institutions in Bangor. Every attempt will be made to promote the creative elements of our community and to showcase a wide variety of Bangor’s arts on its website and Facebook page.

The Bangor Committee on Cultural Development hopes to make this year’s ARTober celebration safe, informative and fun.  The Arts in Bangor are very much alive, and the Commission on Cultural Development seeks to assist in any way possible as they seek ways to share in this time of social distancing. They need your appreciation and support during these unusual times. Please make a point of staying informed about the many ways Bangor’s creative individuals and organizations are continuing to provide our citizens with opportunities to enjoy the arts in this difficult time.

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