Back to basics

MENSK revisits its original purpose
By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  August 12, 2009

mensk main
SUPPORTING CREATIVITY As MENSK regroups, it will continue to engage people with the arts; a participant in the "Dark Arts" drawing-in-the-dark event created this work earlier this month.

Sometimes the biggest stumbling block for our fantastic ideas is a small, seemingly insignificant hurdle — a missing piece of paperwork, a logistical snafu, one degree of separation too many. These tiny troubles can "crush all the forward momentum you have," says Andrew Lyman, who was recently appointed executive director of MENSK, an art-activity umbrella organization in Portland. "The most important thing that I felt this organization could do . . . was to identify what those stopping points were and to do everything we could to fill those gaps."

It's a bit of a change of focus from the past few years, when, under the leadership of founder (and local mead-maker) Eli Cayer, the organization hosted events such as Earth Day Portland, the RoofTop Film series, and First Friday Truck Shows. These popular events will still take place, Lyman and Cayer say. But MENSK also plans to rediscover, and act on, Cayer's initial conception, which was "more about mobilization than just being thought of as an arts organization," Lyman says. "We are putting ourselves out there as first and foremost a set of tools for whatever your ideas are."

For example, MENSK is offering fiscal sponsorship to the Maine Academy of Modern Music so that it can apply for certain grants, and Lyman is hoping to widen MENSK's reach by networking with the Portland Arts & Cultural Alliance and other local arts organizations. Essentially, Lyman and the five-member MENSK board of directors (Cayer, musician Spencer Albee, reporter Kate Bucklin, Children's Museum educator Louisa Donelson, and activist Anna Korsen) want to offer assistance and resources to artists as individuals and groups, to foster creative community in Portland. To expand their own ability to do so, the fiscally lean organization will take its first stabs at applying for grants this year.

No matter who's at the helm, though, the question remains: What, exactly, does "MENSK" mean? Ask it yourself at on August 30, at the "Back to the Beach Party" RoofTop Film.

To learn more about MENSK visit

  Topics: This Just In , Spencer Albee, Anna Korsen, Maine Academy of Modern Music,  More more >
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