Established in 1948, Rockland, Maine’s iconic Farnsworth Art Museum, a major force in the arts economy, recently received financing allocated by CEI Capital Management LLC (CCML) through Maine’s New Markets Capital Investment (NMCI) Program. As with many NMCI deals, this one, for capital improvements to museum buildings, contains a community benefit agreement (CBA). In this instance, the CBA ensures the continuation of the Farnsworth’s educational program, Stories of the Land and its People, by providing funding to that program. Now in its fourth year, the yearlong integrated arts initiative for midcoast public schools has students working with museum educators, professional artists, classroom teachers, art teachers, and community members to tell the story of their community through art.
“The allocation of these funds allows the Farnsworth to undertake the vital capital improvements that will ensure stability to the museum for years to come. It will also make available one of our most important free community educational programs, Stories of the Land and its People, to even more students than its already sizeable audience of Midcoast public school students per year.”
–Farnsworth Director Christopher J. Brownawell
For the past several years, CCML has required CBAs for all of its projects. Typically, CBAs ensure that loan recipients create and/or retain a specific number of jobs throughout the seven-year loan period. In the majority of cases, CCML includes additional provisions that directly benefit the community, such as requiring purchases from local vendors, or supporting educational initiatives through scholarships, training, or internship programs.
In addition to community benefits, the Farnsworth Art Museum’s NMCI transaction will provide new roofs for the main museum and the Moorehouse Wing. The heating system for the entire Rockland campus of the museum will be replaced, with an expected 25 to 30 percent savings annually on fuel costs.
“The care and maintenance of the Farnsworth Art Museum is the sort of project the New Markets program was intended to support, providing needed liquidity for the sustainability of an important community centerpiece,” said Charlie Spies, CCML’s CEO. “The health of the Farnsworth is critical to continue the diversification of an otherwise shallow economy, supporting the arts, tourism and the traditional fisheries industries in an economically fragile region.”
Other partners include Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation, which brought federal New Market Tax Credit funds, and U.S. Bank.