Crowds gather in CMCA Courtyard following Summer 2017 Distinguished Lecture by artist William Wegman

The Center for Maine Contemporary Art (CMCA) has won the 2018 Governor’s Award for Tourism Excellence, the highest honor given by the Maine Office of Tourism. Received at the tourism industry’s annual awards luncheon on Wednesday, April 4, in Portland, the award recognizes CMCA’s contributions to the statewide economy and its efforts to create an exceptional year-round experience for its visitors.

“This is an incredible honor,” said Suzette McAvoy, CMCA’s Executive Director. “We are thrilled to see CMCA and the arts in Maine recognized for their important role in Maine’s cultural economy. We set out to create an extraordinary experience in Rockland – this award recognizes that achievement.”

Speaking to an overflowing reception inside the State of Maine Ballroom at the Holiday Inn by the Bay, Director Steve Lyons of the Office of Tourism reiterated CMCA’s incredible transformation. “The Center for Maine Contemporary Art’s dedication to celebrating Maine’s present day cultural assets has taken them from a small local facility to an exciting global platform for Maine’s arts community, and a major draw for cultural tourism in our state.”

Among the crowd was Gordon Page, Director of Rockland Main Street, who echoed Lyons’ praise. “CMCA demonstrates daily a remarkable ability to impact tourism in a proactive manner.” Speaking about his own work to strengthen Rockland’s local economy through Rockland Main Street—a non-profit focused on connecting and amplifying the efforts of local businesses—Page called CMCA “an important part of the ongoing revitalization of our City.”

Discussing CMCA’s role in the local economy, Sam Vail, CMCA’s Director of Development and Marketing, praised the $35 million impact that has been attributed to the organization. “When people visit CMCA, the impact ripples outward. They shop downtown, run errands, grab a meal, or all of the above.” Vail emphasized the importance of CMCA being a destination for locals, as well as tourists. “We strive to add value to people’s lives – year round. That’s how we serve as a real community asset.”

CMCA accepts the tourism award at an important juncture for how the arts are viewed in Maine’s economy. As the state continues to grapple with the challenge of attracting a new generation of workers, business leaders have begun to engage the arts community as a resource. “Maine’s arts and cultural sector is our best weapon for building a 21st century economy,” writes Julie A. Richard, Executive Director of the Maine Arts Commission, “one that retains young people and attracts creatives, innovators, and investment to our state.”

Currently, estimates show 11,000 individuals hold creative occupations in 2,582 arts-related businesses across the state. Additionally, recent studies link the impact of the art non-profit industry alone to a $150.5 million influx into the state’s economy.

“This award represents the growing respect people have for Maine’s artists,” says Vail, who credits the legacy and skill of Maine artists for helping CMCA gain national attention. When asked about CMCA’s strategy for the future, Vail was quick to answer. “Our goal remains the same: provide everyone who visits CMCA with a unique and enriching experience. That’s it.”

With the number of tourists visiting Maine rising for the fifth consecutive year in 2017, Vail feels optimistic about the approaching summer season. “Maine is popular – that’s a good problem to have.”

CMCA is a contemporary arts institution presenting year-round exhibitions, engaging events, and educational programs for all ages. Location: 21 Winter Street, Rockland, Maine. Hours: November through May, Wednesday – Saturday, 10am to 5pm; Sunday, 12 to 5 pm; June through October, Monday – Saturday, 10am to 5pm, Sunday, 12 to 5pm. Closed Federal holidays. Admission $8; Seniors (65+) and students with ID $6; children under 18 free; CMCA members free.

For more information about CMCA, visit:

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