Telling Room called ‘Imagination Intensive’

The following is a press release from the Maine Alliance for Arts Education.

The Maine Alliance for Arts Education, the Maine Department of Education, and the Maine Arts Commission are pleased to announce that the Telling Room in Portland has been named Maine’s 2011 Imagination Intensive Community.

With funding this year from the Kennedy Center, the Maine Arts Commission, the Maine Department of Education, and Bangor Savings Bank, the Imagination Intensive Communities program is in its second year of identifying and celebrating, through an open application process, those Maine communities where schools and partnering organizations of all kinds invest in the imaginative development of children and youth.

Located in downtown Portland, the Telling Room is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the idea that children and young adults are natural storytellers. Recognized for its many programs and community partnerships, the Telling Room focuses on young writers ages 6 to 18 and seeks to build confidence, provide real audiences for students’ stories, and strengthen literacy skills through literature, writing, music, drama, and visual arts.

The Telling Room has evolved into a community that reaches beyond its own doors to collaborate with a wide variety of local and regional partners, including schools, Portland Public Library, Portland Ovations, and others. As the selection panel noted, “The Telling Room should be recognized and celebrated for participating in community building in a most meaningful way through their work.”

When notified of the award, Telling Room Executive Director, Gibson Fay-LeBlanc commented, “The Telling Room is honored to be selected as an Imagination Intensive Community. We believe that the power of creative expression can change our communities and prepare our youth for future success and are pleased to join the other model communities, schools, and organizations that are teaching students in and through the arts around the state. We value this award both for recognizing our past work with young writers and artists and for the way it will push us to continue to innovate and better serve students in Greater Portland and beyond.”

Past Imaginative Intensive Communities include Arundel, Blue Hill, Camden-Rockport, Deer Isle/Stonington, North Haven, and York (2010). Five communities have received honorable mention as “emerging communities”: Dover-Foxcroft and Kittery (2011) and Brunswick, Denmark, and Portland’s Reiche School (2010).

The search for these communities grew out of a statewide census of arts learning that documented that children’s access to education in dance, music, theater, and visual art is not equal throughout the state. The census raised the question, “Where are the communities that even in hard times use their available resources to support the development of young people’s creativity and innovation?” The Imagination Intensive Communities project was developed to answer that question.

An award celebration, at which the Telling Room will be recognized as the 2011 Imagination Intensive Community, is scheduled for May 26 and will include presentation of a check for $1,200, a banner, and award certificates for the Telling Room and its collaborating community partners.

The Maine Alliance for Arts Education (MAAE) is a statewide nonprofit that works to strengthen education in all of the arts for all Maine students. For more information on this project, the results of the arts education census, and other activities of MAAE, visit or email .

Carol Trimble, executive director
Maine Alliance for Arts Education

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