Snow Pond is built on a strong foundation and heritage as a summer music camp, renowned for quality instruction, positive creative atmosphere, and life-changing experiences. We began to expand to year-round in 2014 with community music programming through partnerships with schools and community organizations. As part of the expansion, Snow Pond laid the groundwork, created the application, and developed the initial curriculum for the Maine Arts Academy, Maine’s only public charter high school for the arts. Located on the Snow Pond campus, the Maine Arts Academy opened in 2016 and now has 200+ students.
Additionally, in the last 30 months, Snow Pond has fortified our role as a year-round entertainment venue, place for family recreation, and tourist destination. From attending outdoor concerts in the historic Bowl outdoor amphitheater (one of the largest in the US), to hiking on our community trails, to partaking in farm-to-table dinners, or participating in the pond hockey tournament, Snow Pond offers a range of activities and events so there’s something for all. The number of visitors from outside our region and state continues to grow.
Importantly the number of community activities has grown rapidly. To strengthen community ties we offer community dinners each month and provide our campus for fundraisers on behalf of community organizations. Snow Pond is now a broad-based regional community center, well-positioned to contribute to the growth and vitality of Central Maine.
To further our efforts as a catalyst for community and economic development, Snow Pond applied for and was selected as one of 23 organizations in the US to participate in the National Endowment for the Arts - Citizens Institute on Rural Design (CIRD). CIRD works in rural communities to enhance the quality of life through “creative placemaking,” a process of using the arts, culture, and community engagement to help create vibrant rural regions. Creative placemaking is a key driver of economic development in rural America, making it a place where things are happening and people want to be. As an arts, education, and community center, Snow Pond provides space for creativity and culture to flourish; we believe that when the energy of the arts is a pillar of the community, the possibilities are limitless. See Rural Action Guide: https://www.nga.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NGA_RuralArtsReport.pdf
The CIRD program is intended to empower local citizens to capitalize on unique, local, and regional assets in order to guide the development and future design of their communities. To enhance community engagement, Snow Pond has engaged with the Orton Family Foundation Community Heart & Soul process. This process is a proven method for bringing communities together to chart a course forward that nurtures a vibrant and sustainable community and helps build capacity to plan comprehensive revitalization strategies.
Snow Pond and the communities in the Belgrade Lakes Region, along with VillageMaine, are working to design a comprehensive, time and goal specific economic plan to establish regional priorities; inspire investor confidence to support development; and ultimately, to help attract and retain young artists, innovators, tradespeople, professionals, and farmers to this magnificent area; making it a vibrant place to live, work, and play. Because attracting young talent is a high priority, the high school, regional college, or graduate students will be heavily involved in the design and implementation of the strategies that are outlined in the plan.