WATERVILLE — Shannon Haines, who has for many years championed the arts, film, culture and economic development in the city, has been appointed the new president and chief executive officer of Waterville Creates!

Haines, 40, of Waterville, starts the job Oct. 1 and will be based at The Center at 93 Main St. downtown. A nonprofit organization funded by foundation grants, Waterville Creates! promotes arts and culture in Waterville and focuses on providing marketing, advertising and program support for its five core partners — the Maine Film Center, the Waterville Opera House, Waterville Public Library, Waterville Main Street and the Colby College Museum of Art.

Haines comes on board as downtown revitalization efforts by the city, Colby College, businesses and arts organizations are ramping up.

She is a perfect fit for the job, according to Larry Sterrs, president of the board of directors of Waterville Creates!, which changed the title of the position from executive director to president and CEO to reflect the mission and goal of the organization.

“The title is commensurate with what we expect the organization to do in the next couple of years — more collaboration with our partners, more visibility of the arts in the community,” Sterrs said Wednesday in an interview with Haines at The Center. “We think with her level of talent and experience, we’re going to get there. We’re beyond pleased to make this arrangement with Shannon.”

Haines already has worked closely with all partners of the nonprofit — she is former executive director of Waterville Main Street , a board member of Waterville Creates! and current executive director of the Film Center. She plans to leave the Film Center position, which she has held since 2012, at the end of September.


Perhaps best known for being director of the Maine International Film Festival, which is a project of the Maine Film Center, for 14 years, Haines replaces Patricia King, associate director of the Colby Museum, who served as interim executive director of Waterville Creates! after Nate Rudy left the position in late May to become city manager of Hallowell.

Waterville City Manager Michael Roy was surprised and pleased to hear Wednesday evening that Haines had been chosen for the job.

“She certainly proved her worth when she was with Waterville Main Street in terms of the cultural aspects of what the city was trying to do to develop a niche,” Roy said. “I think it’s a great choice.”

Mayor Nick Isgro concurred when contacted Wednesday night.

“I think it’s fantastic news for the city of Waterville because Shannon has a track record of success and tenacity in all that she does,” he said.



As president and CEO, Haines will supervise three employees in the second-floor office of The Center — marketing manager Nate Towne, program manager KiKA Nigals and executive assistant Marie Sugden. Haines said she looks forward to working with them, as well as with the organization’s partners and others.

“When Larry approached me, I was more than thrilled,” she said. “I can’t wait to get started. It’s the perfect convergence of everything I’ve been working on for most of my professional career.”

Asked if she plans to continue in her role as executive director of the Maine International Film Festival, Haines said she will continue to be involved in the planning of the festival through her position, but roles and titles have not yet been finalized.

“That’s one of many things we will be discussing during the transition,” she said.

Expanding and strengthening arts programs, improving marketing of existing arts and cultural assets and encouraging more collaboration and consolidation of arts efforts will be a focus, she said.

Uri Lessing, president of the board of directors of the Maine Film Center, said Haines will do wonderful work for Waterville Creates!


“This is a natural progression of Shannon’s career,” Lessing said in a news release. “With every position she’s held, she’s worked to better Waterville, and this new role gives her an even broader platform to continue her trajectory. We are excited by her new position and look forward to a continued and strengthening partnership between the Maine Film Center and Waterville Creates!”

Asked in a phone interview if the Film Center plans to seek a new executive director, Lessing said officials are looking at the structure of the center and weighing options for its next step.

“However, a strong partnership with Waterville Creates! will definitely be a part of that new structure,” Lessing said.

Haines said she is thrilled to have the opportunity to draw on her past experience in arts and community development to help further the mission of Waterville Creates!

“It has been an honor and a privilege to work with the board and staff of the Maine Film Center and I look forward to continuing those relationships in a new and exciting way,” she said. “MIFF and Railroad Square are incredible arts and cultural assets for Waterville and I am excited to be able to continue to support those institutions and our other arts and cultural partners and businesses in this new role.”

A 1992 graduate of Skowhegan Area High School, Haines attended Middlebury College in Vermont, where she received a degree in environmental studies and Japanese in 1996. She started attending the Maine International Film Festival after moving back to Waterville in 1998, later became a volunteer and was named volunteer coordinator for the festival in 2000. Two years later, she became director.


In 2003, she was hired as co-director of the Waterville Main Street program, and about a year later, was named sole director.

Everything she has done will benefit Waterville Creates!, according to Sterrs.

“Shannon’s experience, skills and talent match up perfectly with where we want to take the organization,” he said.


Waterville Creates! owns the 68,000-square-foot building known as The Center, which houses Common Street Arts on the first floor and includes gallery and teaching spaces. The Maine Made & More Shop and WABI-TV 5 also lease space on the first floor, where Studio 93, a performing arts space for youth, is located.

The city leases space for offices and the City Council chamber on the third floor, where the Community Dental Center and office for the opera house also are located. The community group REM and the Kennebec Club are in the basement.


“Our vision for this locale is that this will be an arts and cultural hub of Waterville,” Sterrs said.

Funded primarily by foundation grants, Waterville Creates! this summer, with help from the opera house, launched Waterville Rocks!, a free outdoor concert series held Thursdays in Castonguay Square. Its final concert for the season is scheduled for Sept. 22. Sterrs said the series will continue next summer as well.

The organization is seeking arts and arts-related tenants for the building and hopes to develop a ceramics studio in the former REM kitchen on the first floor. Haines said Waterville Creates! wants to collaborate with the opera house and the Maine Film Center to explore possible shared ticketing systems.

Steers said the Waterville Creates! board of directors meets monthly and its members are actively involved in financial, marketing and programming work.

Waterville Creates! was created in 2012 as a result of regular meetings of executive directors and staffs of the arts partners who talked about how to advance their missions and strengthen programs, according to Haines. On Oct. 19, GrowSmart Maine, a nonprofit organization based in Portland that seeks to conserve farmland, shores and forests and help communities and organizations be sustainable, will hold its annual summit in Waterville.

Waterville Creates! will help with the summit and host a workshop about the arts and culture as economic drivers, according to Haines.


Nancy Smith, GrowSmart’s executive director, said Wednesday in a telephone interview that the summit will focus on workforce, the economy and the environment. The morning will include tours and workshops in downtown Waterville and the afternoon will feature a plenary session at Thomas College in Waterville.

Smith said GrowSmart chose Waterville for the event because there is so much happening in the city, including downtown revitalization, arts and culture and strong participation from Colby and Thomas colleges. The summit will include discussions about innovation and infill in Maine’s food sector, as well as the Trafton Road interchange, according to Smith, who said she is thrilled Haines is the new head of Waterville Creates!, as she has done incredible work.

Haines has garnered many awards during her career, including the Mid-Maine Chamber’s Rising Star Award and Maine Downtown Center’s Downtown Visionary Award.

Amy Calder — 861-9247


Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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