AUGUSTA — The Maine Arts Commission will present its third biennial Maine International Conference on the Arts Thursday and Friday, Sept. 27-28, at the University of Southern Maine in Portland’s Abromson Community Education Center. In partnership with ArtsEngageME, the commission’s support organization, this activity-filled conference will focus on inspiring professional development for Maine artists, arts organizations, arts educators, community developers and policymakers.

“We are excited to bring Maine’s vibrant arts sector together to share ideas and make connections,” said Julie Richard, executive director of the Maine Arts Commission, according to a news release from the commission. “The value of the Maine International Conference on the Arts is that it creates an opportunity for artists and administrators throughout the state to learn from experts and each other as they share stories and strategies.”

Kicking off the conference Thursday evening, will be keynote speaker Maryo Gard Ewell. As the director of Community Impact for the Community Foundation of Gunnison Valley, Colorado, Maryo’s speech will explore “Rural Community Development In & Through the Arts.” Maryo’s specialty is community development and the arts — the linking of the arts to the expansion of civic enhancement. She designed the Neighborhood Cultures of Denver and the Arts Education Equity Network, teaming arts education advocates with community development advocates; and a regionalized folk arts program.

Additionally, Matt Lehrman, will bring his two-part sessions to MICA to spark thinking on artistically ambitious strategies for arts organizations, audience engagement and achieving financially successful goals.

The conference will include two concurrent pre-conferences, an Idea Lab featuring five Maine artists, a dozen pop-up performances by a full range of Maine performers, 20 breakout sessions, the inaugural Maine Arts Awards celebration, and a gathering of Maine Craft Apprenticeships.

Breakout sessions will be offered in five tracks that support the art commission’s priorities as outlined in its Cultural Plan, “Fortifying Maine’s Creativity and Culture.” Each of the five tracks — Leveraging Investment, Increasing Visibility, Fostering Arts Education/Lifelong Learning, Encouraging Cultural Tourism, and Building Capacity — will include hands-on, nuts-and-bolts professional development sessions such as Developing Maine’s Cultural Brand, Data + Stories, Activating Your Site for the New Cultural Tourist, Using Technology To Document & Promote Your Work, Maker Spaces: New Business Models, as well as networking opportunities and more, according to the release.

The two pre-conference sessions on Sept. 27 will feature discussions on Rural Arts Development and a special session for Arts Educators, headlined by the 2018 Maine State Teacher of the Year, Kaitlin Young.

Young will provide a keynote and guide participants in creating action steps for educators and their work in schools and/or communities. The Arts Education pre-conference will start and conclude with creative art and music making. The Rural Arts Development pre-conference will provide hands-on advice and a space to have conversations that are unique to artists and arts organizations functioning in our rural environment here in Maine. The cost of each pre-conference is $50, which includes the Thursday night reception and keynote speech.

Keynote speaker Ewell, with presenters Lehrman and Dr. Zannie Voss, along with artists Ikirenga Cy’lntore and Sara Juli are representative of the more than 100 panelists, speakers and performers at the conference.

For more information and registration, visit MaineArts.com

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