What’s Next For the Maine Crafts Association?

An exit interview with Sadie Bliss, MCA’s outgoing director, about the future of the state’s vibrant craft scene.

Sadie Bliss, former executive director of the Maine Crafts Association
Photograph by Heidi Kirn
By Adrienne Perron
From our July 2022 issue

Why was this the time to step away from the Maine Crafts Association?

We recently restructured into two separate organizations: Shop Maine Craft will focus on growing sales and helping consumers connect with craft artists, and the Maine Crafts Association will remain a nonprofit and can focus on supporting artists and building community. Having finished restructuring, I saw this as a good time for someone new to transition into my role. I started this job in my 20s — I’m ready for something different.

Any favorite memories?

Through our Craft Apprenticeship Program, craft artists who are early in their career get a mentor who serves as a private instructor. It’s so important early in your career to have someone rooting for you. One of my favorite days each year is at the end of the program, when pairs from current years and previous years have lunch together and talk about ups and downs of their apprenticeships. Mentors and mentees laugh and cry, telling stories of their time together. The growth we see in mentees is immeasurable — these special connections are like putting gas on a fire for emerging artists.

What does the future hold for the MCA?

We’ve been examining our history and current status of being primarily white-led and not as inclusive as we can be. We need to continue that work, and we’ve made good progress, but it’s not just a box to check — it’s an ongoing thing that needs to be considered with every program we offer.

When you think about what you’ve learned over the years about Maine and its community of craftspeople, what stands out?

Craft artists aren’t always thought of as entrepreneurs, but they have these tiny businesses that are leading the way in the economy. If you drive on any road, so many houses have signs advertising that they are making something or offering some kind of craft-related service. They’re brave and have thick skin — a career in craft is a lifetime commitment, and it can be isolating to be a one-person show. People who are making things and keeping skills alive in Maine are the salt of the earth and should be valued as such.