Cape Elizabeth council disbands Arts Commission, new arts program to form

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The town Arts Commission will be discontinued at year end, to be replaced by an independent citizens group designed to promote the arts.

On Monday, Nov. 14, the Town Council unanimously voted to allocate funds to help the new group form as a nonprofit organization. Town Manager Mike McGovern will work with members of the Arts Commission to continue support for the arts during a transition period.

The mission of the Arts Commission is to enhance and enliven the community by promoting awareness, involvement, understanding and access to the arts. But the panel lacked committed members and struggling to meet its mission goals with their minimal budget, McGovern told the council.

In an Oct. 19 letter to the council, McGovern said in seven years there has been an average of two resignations each year, he said and only three of 25 members who have served in those years have asked to be considered for reappointment. No member appointed since 1998 has served two full consecutive terms.

Half of the seven-member commission turns over each year, McGovern said, and at the time of his memo, there were four openings to fill.

Julia Bassett Schwerin, a member of the Arts Commission and manager of the Thomas Memorial Library gallery, told the council that the group understands the decision to disband, and asked for financial assistance to create the independent, nonprofit replacement.

McGovern said the town has helped other organizations in the past, notably the Fort Williams Charitable Foundation, with establishing nonprofit status.

The Arts Commission will report back to McGovern with a cost estimate for creating the nonprofit.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or Follow her on Twitter: @amy_k_anderson