WATERVILLE — Most responders to a Waterville Creates! survey agree that arts and culture should contribute to the positive image of the community, and the nonprofit organization is hosting public meetings to discuss the findings further, as well as get more input from area residents.

The organization, which focuses on arts and culture in the community, hopes to have those attending meetings help identify what they hope Waterville will be known for in the future.

Waterville Creates!, based at The Center downtown, surveyed more than 400 people to find out what they see as strengths and what the city needs, with 95 percent of respondents agreeing that arts and culture should contribute to the positive image of the community. Eighty-eight percent said arts and culture should attract tourism and business and draw new residents to the city.

With help from Reinholt Consulting LLC, a firm that specializes in assessment and planning for creative organizations and communities, Waterville Creates! held one public meeting Thursday in the council chambers at The Center to issue survey data findings and initial recommendations. The next meetings will be held from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the same location. Strategy recommendations will be discussed from noon to 2 p.m. June 2 and a plan summary and finalization session will be held 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 16, with both meetings in the council chambers.

The “cultural blueprint” study seeks to discover creative new ways to increase the reach, value and relevance of arts and cultural resources in the city, according to a Waterville Creates! news release. The study, funded in part by the Maine Arts Commission, is researching the city’s collective perceptions of the strengths, opportunities, aspirations and realities of existing arts and cultural resources.

“Conducting the cultural survey was the first step in a process to better understand what Waterville area residents, visitors, artists and businesses think about the value, relevance, challenges, needs and access to arts and cultural resources,” Nate Rudy, executive director of Waterville Creates!, said in the release. “The next step is to meet as a community and discuss and improve plan priorities and objectives while identifying collaborative partners to help finalize the cultural blueprint priorities and strategies moving forward.”

Those who filled out the surveys were asked what they hope Waterville will be known for in the future. Words of response that surfaced most frequently were “community,” “downtown,” “arts,” “culture,” “place” and “vibrant,” according to Waterville Creates! officials. Such results will be discussed further at the public meetings.

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