Throughout the year I received emails from the Maine Arts Commission announcing that stimulus funds were available but upon opening the emails it became apparent that one must be structured as a non-profit in order to qualify.
In recent time, Maine's non-profit sector continued to expand to the point that non-profits were competing with one another for resources. As a result non-profits were merging with one another and increasingly developing income earning activities that compete with the for-profit sector. At this point I was unaware of the reams of legislation already in place in Maine that encourages the development of non-profits and identifies a "targeted sector" which is the beneficiary of the legislature's redistribution of wealth justified as "social benefit", determined of course, by the ideology of a small elite.
Then an event occurred that fundamentally transformed my state of awareness,:
Months Later on January 2, 2012
Since I began this page many moths ago, I have been pondering on how to begin and more precisely, how much I want this tale to include my personal story. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I wouldn't be thinking about it if the story were not there, waiting to be told and I realized that my personal story is a living picture of how the system actually works. I also realized as I thought about this subject more and more, that it is a story of mutually exclusive paradigms, meeting one another head on.
This story has several central themes, one of them being the two Maine's. People impart many different meanings to this term but I intend the community of Mainers who are deeply rooted in Maine, with families going back for generations, and the other Maine of summer residents, transients, and new arrivals. Some of whom include families who have made Maine their summer home for generations and so over-lap with the other Maine.
I have lived in Maine since the age of four and attended the local schools from sub-primary onward. We were then the new arrivals and pursuing a course that pioneered what later became a small ceramic slip-casting industry on the Boothbay Peninsula. I attended sub-primary class on Southport Island Maine. To this day I cannot drive on Southport without remembering the bus ride to school as it stopped to drop off my school mates at their homes. In fact the main road on Southport Island has barely changed since then. The local people, whose families go back for generations are a deeply rooted part of what I think of when I think of Maine people.
When the Baldacci administration came into office and announced the “creative economy”, I thought at first that it was inclusive of all the people of Maine, which in my experience, the long rooted local community plays an important role. I soon learned that this was not what Baldacci intended. In fact in conformity with the “creativity guidelines”, issued by Baldacci’s guru, Richard Florida, the goal was to import a superior class of people as defined by said guru.
That was my first clash of paradigms. By the time the Baldacci administration decided to have a “creative economy list serve”, I understood that creative economy” was a very exclusive term, but since in the private sector our family business had long been recognized as artists and innovators, I still thought that we might fit in with the government’s narrowly defined parameters of “creativity” and “Innovation”. As a case in point about our private sector recognition, when I went to join VaseFinder, which has a very high reputation in the world of ceramics, the owner refused to take our money because he regards our business as having an important place in the history of ceramics and so he gave us an honorary membership.
I soon realized that in the eyes of the state creativity and innovation bureaucrats, particularly the Maine state art bureaucracy, we are nothing more than an undistinguished “commercial” entity- and that in the eyes of those charged with redistributing wealth that others create, “commercial” represents a lower life form. I also “grokked’ that we could easily change our status among the government’s creativity bureaucracy if we would only become a non-profit organization, Then and only then, would we have value in the eyes of the government’s “creative and innovative classes’ as we would then function as a useful channel for redistributing wealth.
I could tell many stories to illustrate the views expressed above. In the beginning there was the “creative economy list serve” created by the state government and strictly monitored by a government “jury”. Every website that was allowed to promote itself through this list serve credited Richard Florida as their inspiration. No other source of inspiration was ever mentioned. It was also the case that whenever the citizen users of the list serve engaged in a conversation that I found of value, the government jury stepped in to close it down. But a most significant event that occurred, demonstrating the attitude held by the Maine Art Bureaucracy toward “commercial” entities was when I received an email from Wendy Rosen who runs the most important craft fairs and magazines in the country.
Wendy Rosen was writing to Maine craft makers urging us to write to Olympia Snowe to act on a bill to prohibit indelible labels on products imported from other countries. It was becoming a major issue at the Rosen craft fairs, that such products, manufactured in countries with “cheap labor”, had the paper labels identifying their country of origin removed once these products were in the United States. Underneath the indelible labels were permanent signatures with American sounding names. These fraudulent “American made” crafts, were being infiltrated into American made craft shows to compete with genuine American made crafts and sold at a much lower cost than American craft makers can afford to do.
I submitted Wendy’s request to the creative economy list serve to be promptly rejected by the government jury. I then went to a craft fair taking place on the Boothbay Common’s to distribute Wendy’s request. I had only to say one sentence before the vendors were grabbing the information out of my hands.
One craft maker suggested I write to Mrs. Baldacci about the rejection by the creative economy list serve jury. I did so and months later received an apology from the jury explaining that they thought my submission was spam. The government’s jury did not understand that the meaning of span entails sending large multiples of emails. Is it unreasonable to expect the creative and innovative nobility to have such an understanding- or that they would know how to issue an apology to one such as I from the “commercial” classes without insulting? Did they know who Wendy Rosen is? Unlikely! Did they know who Olympia Snowe is- you would think so.