Kristin Humbargar, founder of Essex Hub for Women & Business, was named a New England Creative Communities Fellow and is currently taking part in the Creative Community House in East Topsham this week.
The NECCF program is an opportunity for artists, administrators, entrepreneurs and community organizers to come together with like-minded creatives in New England.
Funded by the National Arts Strategies and University of Pennsylvania, the program involves a week-long session of collaboration between fellows to work on their community projects and learn skills and tools to implement them in their communities. It also includes online learning sessions for fellows and support when their projects are launched.
“I am excited for it. I don’t quite know what to expect,” Humbargar said. “It’s going to be really interesting to be in a program full of people who are all working on arts-related projects who are also about positive change in their communities.”
Humbargar is the ultimate advocate for positive change in Essex through the arts, starting with the Essex Hub and the newer Main Street Studio. Currently, four artists or art-related businesses rent out space on Main Street, using it as a studio, a classroom or to exhibit their own artwork.
“It’s been great,” Humbargar said. “It’s provided an opportunity for there to be an art presence in the village and for people to come together around making and building community.”
The space is also used as a meeting place for groups like the farmers’ market, and it plays a large role in exhibiting artwork during the annual SteAmfest in the fall.
Despite the successes of the Hub and Main Street Studios, Humbargar still sees room for growth for the arts in Essex.
“I would love for the village to be considered a ‘maker village’ where there are lots of people doing really interesting things that cross over,” she said. “That it really becomes a vibrant community of creative people.”
During her time as a creative community fellow, Humbargar is working on a specific project to address this crossover of communities within Essex Jct.
“One of the things that I’ve been becoming aware of is the increase of the multicultural population that seems to be appearing in and around Essex Jct.,” Humbargar explained. “We have a really interesting opportunity to learn more about those communities and to invite learning about the multicultural populations because in some ways I think we have an unintentional blindness.”
Humbargar brought these ideas to the fellowship program this week and hoped to work on a project involving these communities and the arts.
For Humbargar, art is all about creating positive change in the community by bringing different people together to connect on a new level.
“Art is always an opportunity to begin a conversation,” she said. “It opens windows for being able to see things differently.”