NEA Chair Rocco Landesman Tells Audience: “Art Can be Controversial. It Should Challenge You.”

Director of Communications, Willy Ritch, for Congresswoman Pingree at Portland Stage

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree Introduced NEA Chair Rocco Landesman

NEA Chair Rocco Landesman on Stage at Portland Stage

By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,155)

“Only recently have the arts been used to revitalize cities and Portland is one of the best examples of this. These cities are what they are because of the arts. But it doesn’t work everywhere,” Rocco Landesman, Chair of the Natioal Endorsement for the Arts told a capacity audience at the Portland Stage Company late this afternoon.

Chairman Landesman was invited to visit Rockland and Portland, Maine by U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree to see how the creative economy has revitalized two of Maine’s cities. Landesman spent most of this morning up in Rockland at a similar forum there before this afternoon’s engagement. Tomorrow he will undertake a walking tour of the Arts District in Portland. A reception at Maine College of Art, Portland, followed the Portland Stage forum.

Landesman told the crowd of artists and art proponents that the creative economy has worked here in Portland because there is a tradition of the arts here, because of the committed private sector and because of public officials that “get it.” Landsman, a “recovering” producer, said that neighborhoods with an arts presence have a tighter social fabric, vote and possess a civic cohesiveness lacking in other neighborhoods. “People do come,” he said.

Also sharing the stage with the Chairman were Tammy Ackerman, Biddeford and a representative of the Colby College Museum, Waterville.

Congresswoman Pingree introduced Chairman Landsmen and gave the audience an overview of how Rockland has evolved from an seafood industrial town to the home of the Farnsworth Museum, the North American Blues Festival and the Strand Theater.

In closing, Chairman Landesman told the audience: “Art can be controversial. It should challenge you!”

Please visit Post # 1,154, dated 6/12/12 for more background information.