Five years ago, the New England Music Camp Association, now also doing business as Snow Pond Center for the Arts, made the decision to provide year­round programming with the vision of accomplishing five specific longer term objectives:

  • To enhance and enrich our summer programs.
  • To provide for the children of Central Maine affordable and public educational opportunities, comparable to the best schools in the Northeast.
  • To form partnerships with local organizations for support and to attract new residents, especially artists, entrepreneurs, skilled trades, technicians and young families.
  • To create jobs and foster regional economic development.
  • To support the development of a creative economy in Maine.

We are pleased to note that progress has been made on all fronts, most notably on educational objectives and building of partnerships. We now are educating over 1,500 students per year through our summer programs, the public charter high school (Snow Pond Arts Academy), the Community Music School, and Snow Pond Enrichment, a new after school program.

Summer Programming, NEMC has notably increased our recruiting efforts, which is resulting in a far broader mix of students. The improved facilities have allowed for expanded programming as well as the continued development of the College and Adult programs.

Snow Pond Arts Academy, Maine’s only performing arts public charter high school, opened on the Snow Pond campus in the fall of 2016. Today, the Arts Academy has 150 students from over 50 Maine towns. The Arts Academy offers a broad liberal arts curriculum, which encourages creativity, critical thinking, and civic engagement to ignite the student’s natural love of learning.

Snow Pond Community Music School offers affordable individual and group lessons for all ages and abilities. The school currently serves more than 150 students on campus and an additional 120 children through off-campus outreach programs at community centers such as The Alfond Youth Center, the Augusta YMCA, and at other area schools.

Snow Pond Enrichment, a new and innovative after school program for students in grades 1-8, which provides academic support and performing arts education to every child every day. This program is based on the internationally successful El Sistema model, and is the first program of its kind north of Boston. Initial enrollment is 25.

Additionally, a great foundation from which to build has been established from two other perspectives: campus’ infrastructure and community partnerships. The Lodge and all of our educational spaces have been renovated and winterized, and we have just completed construction on a new 6,000 sq. ft.Learning Center. Secondly our community relationships have continued to grow and strengthen. We are working closely and consistently with area business groups, all the area colleges, and the various arts organizations. Our civic leaders, especially at the US Senate and House level have been supportive. Of special note is that Snow Pond has been given ‘priority project’ status by the Community Economic Development staff at the Kennebec Valley Council of Gov’t (KVCOG). This increases our probability of obtaining federal grants from the USDA, the EDA, and perhaps others.

Going forward, we have three very
specific tactical goals for 2018 as follows:

Distance Learning – We have received a grant from the USDA for $130,000 to purchase/install technology equipment and train staff, which will allow us to teach students not on the Snow Pond campus, or for our students on campus to access a wealth of teachers and institutions worldwide. This just completed new building will be our innovation center. We expect distance learning to be fully operational for the next school year-September 2018.

Building Awareness – While there is far greater general awareness of Snow Pond in general, there is not enough awareness at the individual family level. There simply needs to be much more direct communication to the parents. Ultimately, by making all families aware of the benefits of music education, we empower each of them to take action, and enroll their child in one of the available programs at Snow Pond or in their community.

The Bowl in the Pines – We are now beginning the last and perhaps most important upgrade of the campus iconic structures, the historic Bowl in the Pines, which is still one of the nation’s largest outdoor amphitheaters. This exciting project will make necessary improvements to this facility, which was built in 1930. A new concrete foundation in the front, along with additional decking, will extend the stage forward by eight feet and provide enhanced stability. New steel supports will allow for the additional sound and lighting required by national touring artists. Improvements to concession areas, ambient lighting, and landscaping are included.

This investment in the Bowl in particular will have an enormous impact on the future. The larger shows will create more visibility to NEMC/Snow Pond, enrich our students experience, and provide needed revenues to fund the scholarship and financial aid programs. NEMC/Snow Pond does not have a large endowment and the amount of aid students need for our summer or year round programs has more than doubled in the last 3 years, even though we have not increased tuitions. Revenues from 5-6 larger scale concerts over the course of the summer will effectively create that endowment. We will continue to offer 12 free concerts per summer.

The renovations will help NEMC/Snow Pond become one of the premier outdoor concert venues in New England, allowing all of our summer families to enjoy major national music performances. These larger scale shows will also bring a substantial amount of revenue to the local businesses estimated at $300,000 or more per event). It is rare that a relatively modest investment will provide so many benefits to us and to the vibrancy and economic health of this community.