New artists' residency and art center hopes to bring economic boost to Maine's North Woods

MONSON, Maine (WABI) - An art center located in downtown Monson is attracting more people to the region.

Monson Arts opened in 2018 and has already made an impact on the local economy.

"It's inspiring for us to be able to show off what we've been able to accomplish and that we can do it in a small town," explained Artistic Director of Monson Arts, Stuart Kestenbaum.

The arts are coming to life in Monson thanks to a new artists' residency and center.

The center located in downtown Monson offers four-week residencies for artists and writers.

"We do workshops in the summer for people from all around the country, and we have programs for kids from the community meaning schools from Newport and Dexter to Greenville and Jackman," aid Kestenbaum.

Kestenbaum serves as the Artistic Director of Monson Arts.

For the past year, he's helped artists receive a place to live and work on their craft while giving a boost to the local economy.

"There's somebody I knew who grew up in Greenville and says she used to drive through Monson, but now she stops because it's a place where she can eat. It's a place where people are stopping now, not driving through," said Kestenbaum.

"We have all of our meals together, and it's a nice community," said artists Annelies Kamen.

Kamen traveled to Monson from Berlin.

She'e one of ten artists currently working at the center.

She says being able to have the space to plan and create is rewarding, but having the support from the community is even better.

"It's really nice to see that people are happy with that impact and that we can be here and make our work and then bring that back to where we live and where we show normally," explained Kamen.

"Having ten artists, writers and residents, just exposing the rest of the world to this beautiful area, it shows what Maine has. Not what we've lost, but what we have and what we're working on having in the future," said Governor Janet Mills.

We caught up with Governor Mills who toured the facility along with Heather Johnson from the Department of Economic and Community Devlopment.

Both agree Monson is rich in history and tradition.

Their hope is this is just the start to economic growth in Monson and surrounding towns.

"I think this in Monson here is a great opportunity to look at what is culture and art and diversification feel like to a community, and how do we attract additional people into these communities to be able to enjoy all the value they have," explained Commissioner Heather Johnson who serves in the Department of Economic and Community Development.

To learn more about Monson Arts visit: https://monsonarts.org/.