A Message from Archipelago

At Long Last” by Lisa Mossel Vietze

Art connects us, inspires us, and reminds us of both our humanity and our immortality. As artists and makers who share our art and selves with our communities, we offer a valuable service to those around us every day. Being self-employed, we also connect with each other to establish our networks, build the local economies around us, and make a positive impact on the creative economy as our web of art and artists grows. We bring our items and our art to craft fairs, retail fairs, retail stores, websites, Etsy shops, galleries, and customers directly. In this scary time, it’s easy to worry about all of that collapsing. 

What can you do to take care of yourself? Your household, studio, family, and loved ones? As you listen to yourself, what do you hear yourself needing—and how can we help you?

Now, more than ever, we want you to know that Archipelago is here for you. To help provide support specifically for Maine’s small businesses, including our artists and makers, we’ve compiled a list of resources just for you. We’re collecting whatever we hear about that might be helpful for you right now, so if you know or hear of anything that isn’t on this list, please let me know by email or Facebook Messenger and I’ll add it!

The health of our society depends upon the ability of our artists and makers to create and bring those creations into their neighborhoods and the world. Maine’s economy depends upon the creative economy. At Archipelago, we are currently planning and preparing for a busy summer, fall, and holiday season—cleaning, painting, and yes, buying. While we may shape the nature of our orders a bit differently to bring more products online, we are anticipating ordering at similar levels to last year. Today, that is our plan.

More broadly at the Island Institute, the Small Business team’s primary concern is ensuring that goods and services are moving between the mainland and island communities. We are prioritizing support for ferry services (both public and private), which are essential to the flow of uninterrupted food, medical supplies, fuel, and other services to our islands. The Island Institute is also working to connect small business owners and independent contractors on islands and in coastal communities to loan and disaster relief programs at the local, state, and federal level that can provide funds for sustaining their businesses throughout this pandemic.

In the meantime, Archipelago is making calls and reaching out to see how you’re feeling, what you’re going through, and how we might be able to support you. We’re here to help however we can or, if nothing else, to simply offer a friendly ear, some kind words, and someone to talk to. Our friend Susan recently shared the following with us: 

“Right now I’m ok. I’m mostly worried about loss of income this year. Who knows who will buy pots, who will travel, and when. My concern is that we craftspeople are such small businesses that we will be overlooked [in relief funds].

For years I’ve wanted to have the significant impact craftspeople in Maine make on our economy recognized. We bring people here from out of state, give them something to do, and also are the ones who always donate and support our local community fundraisers. We deserve some love!

I am concerned that if the government sends out checks they will somehow miss us. Also, what about the small businesses, maybe ones just starting out. What if they don’t file taxes? Will money go to them too?

Thanks for all you are doing. Just knowing you are thinking of us helps.”  

In addition to some virtual small business events and resources in development, we are also working on blog posts and stories focusing on how Maine artists and makers are responding to the current challenges and using their talents to help their communities. Stay tuned for more on all of that very soon!

For now, just know that we are all in this together. Archipelago will be trying to reach out to you in the coming week, but if you have any questions or want to chat in the meantime, feel free to email me at lvietze@islandinstitute.org. I’d love to hear from you!

Until then, stay safe, practice self-care, spread sunshine in the day, mix with paint, clay, and fabric, and be well.

My best,

Lisa Mossel Vietze

Director, Archipelago

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