Deer Isle is the place to be in summer for young people interested in the arts. Not that it isn’t year-round without its arts programs, but in 1988, two couples with small children — Holley Mead and her husband, Bruce Bulger, and Fran Eastman and George Lyons — formed Seamark Community Arts to offer arts and cultural opportunities to the children of Deer Isle.
Seamark Director Mead, interviewed in her Seamark Building office, once part of the old Deer Isle High School in the heart of the village, recalled, “We thought there were so many artists in the area and so little art in the schools, we wanted something to bring together the artists and art to the children of the island. The Seamark building made it the perfect center for a community art program.”
In addition to bringing arts into the schools for the past 18 years, Seamark, which has grown through grants, donations and sponsors, now has a 12-person board. It has sponsored 17 visiting artists for 2005-2006 and offers summer art programs for all ages.
This summer, Seamark instructors will teach nine two-day workshops for island, summer and visiting kids age six to 10. The workshops run from July 6 to August 30. The same faculty — Bruce Bulger, Carolyn Caldwell, Carole Ann Fer, Jessica Graham, Jill Hoy, Judith Ingram, Frederica Marshall, Holley Mead, Susan Merrill and Netti Rogers — will teach six workshops for students age 10, 11, 12 and up starting July 17 and ending Aug. 16. A treasure hunt and picnic August 21st will include a boat ride to a nearby Russ Island where the kids will search for the hidden treasure.
Six workshops for adults in drawing, pastels, printing, collage and clay will start July 10 and end Sept. 17.
The highlight of the summer will be the week of July 10-14, when 90 children grades K-8 can attend Island Arts Camp. A collaboration of Seamark Community Arts, Opera House Arts, and Reach Performing Arts, the camp began four years ago when Nelson Monteith, Director of the Reach Center, invited Seamark and Opera House Arts to hold the camp at the Reach, at Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School. “Seamark had talked about having a camp,” Mead said, “but we never could have done it without Nelson and the Reach and the Opera House.”
Monteith added, “We have this wonderful facility, and it’s nice to see it used in the summer.” Now in its fourth season, Island Arts camp offers opportunities to sing, dance, paint, sculpt, make collages and prints, do various crafts, write and act under the instruction of professionals in each field.
Arts Camp Registrar and general “go-to” person Susan Steed, Deer Isle’s schools speech and language therapist, recruits local kids to come to camp and raises scholarship money so islanders who can’t afford tuition can attend camp.
As for the three collaborating groups that run the camp, Steed said, “Our mission is to provide varied arts experiences.” And it’s clear that they take their charge seriously. Mead said, “At the camp and at the Seamark workshops, the quality of the instruction is important to all of us.” Linda Nelson, Opera House Arts Executive Director, said, “What we’re trying to do is give kids quality arts experiences, and we try to find ways to help the teachers.” Although Opera House co-founder Carole Estey, who taught at camp the first three years, and Nelson, and Jerome are not teaching this year, they’re at camp every day, helping behind the scenes.
Each year the Opera House provides a featured guest artist. Last year they brought character actor, clown, and juggler Randy Judkins, who has taught at Barnum and Bailey Clown College. She said Judkins helps the kids develop a sense that they can take risks and can do things.
Also, a number of Deer Isle residents volunteer at the camp. At lunch each day campers enjoy a recital, perhaps by an artist who’s performing at the Opera House, or perhaps by young people, so the campers see other young people on stage. At the end of the week the campers put on a big review.
But the end of Arts camp doesn’t mean the end of theater experience for the kids this summer. The Inter-Island Exchange, a program Seamark set up with the Waterman Center on North Haven, provides a way for island kids to get together and see each other’s musical productions, Seamark’s Mead said. “North Haven has come here and we have gone there, and we are trying to work in other islands as well.” She said the cast and instructors have had potluck dinners with the casts of the different musicals and then have spent the night across the Bay with Island families. “Last fall the Sunbeam, as part of its mission, transported the North Haven kids here to see `Annie’ at the Reach,” Mead said. “It’s in the tradition of the island kids getting to know each other for sports and dances like they used to before the [Deer Isle] bridge was built.” This Summer Seamark will sponsor a trip to North Haven to see `Pirates of Penzance’ on July 30. Call Seamark for reservations. Thanks to a grant from the Island Institute, students will ride on the boat and see the show free. For others, the day trip to North Haven on July 30, will cost adults $30, two for $55. Tickets for Pirates of Penzance will be $10. Camp tuition costs $125 if the camper’s primary residence is Deer Isle or Stonington; it costs $200 for those who live off-island.
For information go to www.seamarkcommunityarts.com or write to Seamark Workshops, P.O. Box 118, Deer Isle, Maine 04627, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. To register for Island Arts Camp, contact RPAC, Susan Steed, Registrar, 249 N. Deer Isle Road, Deer Isle, ME 04627.