Mayo Street Arts was founded in 2009 in the former St. Ansgar’s church. Built by the Danish Lutheran community in 1890; the building has long served as a beacon and hub for community in the neighborhood. Today, the building serves as a hub for artists, arts audience members, and community members of the East Bayside neighborhood.
East Bayside is the most densely populated, ethnically diverse square mile in Maine. Through our summer kids’ programs and multicultural arts programming throughout the year, Mayo Street Arts has become a bright beacon of welcome for artists and families arriving in Portland from all over the world.
Mayo Street Arts is a neighborhood center, visual and performing arts center, and community resource, providing artists with access to studio and rehearsal space, performance opportunities, and eclectic and multicultural arts events.
In addition to live music and arts events, MSA provides free reading and arts programs for local immigrant and refugee youth. MSA serves 8,000 artists, audience members, and youth each year, presenting visual arts, international music, dance, and puppet theater, and community arts gatherings.
History (The Longer Version)
They quickly found that Mayo Street Arts (MSA) was meeting a need for both artistic and community space, and became a 501c3 organization in 2010. MSA began offering music and arts programming, including ticketed events but also a free Children’s Puppet Workshop for the many kids in the neighborhood.
In 2013, Mayo Street Arts received a major grant from Cherie Wendelken, Jeb Brooks, and the Brooks Family Foundation to purchase the building. This was a turning point for Mayo Street Arts, and the organization has worked to improve the building and organizational capacity ever since.
A new roof, renovation of the choir loft and performance space, a new stage, an outdoor classroom, and many facility improvements have advanced the goal of providing a modern, flexible, and accessible arts center.
The building now serves as a neighborhood hub, performance center, artist studios and rehearsal space for visual and performing artists. MSA serves a diverse immigrant and refugee population through its arts, community, and education programs, and is a welcoming beacon for neighborhood youth, artists, and families.
MSA’s artistic focus as a presenting organization is eclectic and includes international music, dance, and puppet theater. MSA serves 8,000 artists, audience members, and people from its neighborhood each year.
In addition to live music and arts events, MSA provides free summer reading and arts programs for neighborhood kids designed to improve reading skills, overcome language barriers, and build joy and comraderie in the neighborhood.
The Mayo Street Arts board, staff, and community are now working to make the building accessible to all – with improved physical and language access, a mural that speaks to all languages, and other accessibility goals.