The Abbe Museum and Bar Harbor are the international center for supporting and selling the work of Wabanaki artists.
• Create a fellowship program for Wabanaki artists to travel and learn from other artists
• Enhance the Native American Festival and Basketmakers Market
• Research and develop plans for an annual national juried show of Native art (Abbe Museum Indian Market)
• Create and market the Abbe Museum Indian Market (annual national juried show of Native art) and determine its relationship to the Native American Festival and the Abbe’s annual Gathering Gala
• Sustain the Abbe Museum Indian Market
• Expand the sales gallery in the Museum, and more actively promote gallery openings
- The first Abbe Museum Indian Market (AMIM) was produced in May 2018 after two years of intensive planning and raising over $150,000 in grants and sponsorships. By all accounts, AMIM was a raging success and the second one is being planned now.
- We welcomed 5,000 guests and experienced a 60% increase in visitation to the Museum that weekend, plus a 795% increase in store sales.
- Nearly 90% of market-goers indicated they traveled to Bar Harbor, a world-class destination, for the AMIM and 55% of them made a purchase from an artist. The enthusiasm was evident – by noon on the first day, Wabanaki basketmakers were sold out or had just one basket left.
- Over 90% of the market-goers indicated that they would return again. These are remarkable statistics for an inaugural event in a, frankly, remote location.
- Perhaps more telling is that participating artists shared that their AMIM sales were in the top 25% of the juried shows they attend. First year out of the gate the AMIM became a top flight show.
- In 2018, we moved the Native American Festival and Basketmakers Market from the COA campus to the Abbe’s backyard and welcomed 2,000 festival-goers. Held annually the first Saturday after July 4, Bar Harbor is a busy town, full of tourists. Moving the show to the heart of downtown helps to solidify the Abbe as a Wabanaki arts campus and better reveals its role as a sister market to AMIM. The first year of this change went very smoothly and we plan to make the backyard its regular location. Participating artists shared many times that they preferred this change and would like to see it continue there. This event continues to be an important partnership with the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance.
- With the help of a new donor, Dawnland LLC (the concessioner in Acadia National Park), we’ve secured funding each year since 2015 to produce the Wabanaki Artist Fellowship (their total donation package also supports Cultural Connections programming in Acadia National Park and the Waponahki Student Art exhibit). These fellowships fund two artists ($3,500 each) traveling to the Santa Fe show in August and one artist ($1,000) traveling to shows in-state. This latter fellowship is designed for new/upcoming artists but may also be for established artists in the absence of an applicant. The selection process is non-competitive and artists report that the support is a real game-changer, reducing the financial risk they assume when attending shows. We have successfully secured these funds for four years now and we believe it will continue so long as Dawnland is the Park concessioner.
Many people know nothing about our northeastern tribes and it’s important to expose and educate people about our people and traditional art forms. The other important aspect of attending Indian markets is meeting all the other artists, networking, and getting inspired by some of the most talented Native artists in the country. To see the art created by many different tribes from all over the country is a very special experience, and I feel as though it has been very moving to me as an artist, helping me grow and expand my current work. – Sarah Sockbeson, Penobscot
When this goal is realized, Bar Harbor will be positioned to become THE destination for Northeastern Native art. Wabanaki artists will be at the core of this regional economic success story. Building from the Abbe Museum Indian Market, creative placemaking initiatives will grow, including, but not limited to, public art projects, artist residencies, and a creative brand.