Two Landmark Maine Educational Institutions Will Integrate to Preserve Salt’s Mission

Portland, Maine: The future of the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies, which announced it would close last summer, is now secure: the Salt Institute will operate as a discrete program under the auspices of Maine College of Art. This union would not have been possible without significant support from the Quimby Family Foundation, which has supported both institutions in the past. This development is the result of several months of critical dialog and discussion between many individuals from the Salt Institute, Salt’s alumni board, MECA and the Quimby Family Foundation, all of whom shared the goal to preserve Salt’s unique and inspirational program in documentary storytelling.

According to MECA’s Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Ian Anderson, “The program offered by the Salt Institute has enriched and impacted thousands of lives, and is a treasured cultural resource to Portland and Maine. Since we began investigating this potential merger last year, we have discovered that Salt is aligned with our mission, our pedagogy, and our educational philosophy. Salt’s approach to documentary storytelling dovetails perfectly with MECA’s programs and our values. We are honored to be able to preserve Salt’s legacy for its alumni, for the people of Maine, and for future generations of documentary storytellers.”

Long-time Salt supporter and alum Hannah Quimby said, “We are thrilled that Salt will be partnering with MECA, and are confident in this effort based on MECA’s solid reputation and supportive infrastructure, as well as from witnessing the great care they have taken to listen to and understand the desires of the wider Salt community. We have appreciated a great working relationship with MECA in the past and have tremendous faith in the skilled leadership of President Don Tuski and Vice President of Academic Affairs Ian Anderson. It’s an exciting opportunity that has been thoughtfully considered and we are pleased to support this collaborative effort.”

Salt will maintain its name and, if MECA receives all necessary approvals from its accreditors, it will offer a one-semester graduate-level intensive in documentary storytelling at MECA, becoming one of five academic programs at the College. Advantages of this arrangement for future Salt students include the possibility of accessing federal financial aid, utilizing student services and housing, and accessing the College’s extensive studios and equipment, like the new recording studio in the Bob Crewe Program in Art and Music.

As part of the transition plan, MECA is forming a Salt Advisory Committee consisting of Salt Alumni, former Salt Board members, MECA faculty and others to facilitate the transition and help guide future decisions affecting the program. Additionally, the Dean will hold an open a forum for all interested Salt alumni in May.

As a testament to Salt’s and MECA’s commitment to preserve Salt, honour the work of its alumni, and protect and preserve stories of the people of Maine, we are thrilled to also announce the release of the Salt Story Archive, a repository of all Salt stories and publications collected since Salt’s inception. This new digital archive is an incredible resource to the people of Maine; it tells compelling stories in short film, radio, photography and writing. The online Archive contains 16,000 images, 495 radio shows, 849 writing projects, 251 multimedia projects, more than 500 articles in 56 publications, and 3 books created by over 1,000 Salt storytellers. The Salt Story Archive will initially be released only to Salt Alumni for review, then, three weeks later, to the general public.

MECA’s goal is to launch Salt’s full semester program in Fall 2017. In the meantime, MECA and Salt will be offering one-week summer workshops in documentary storytelling. The three workshops, which will be led by documentary storytellers with national profiles, include Radio Storytelling with Michael May, Short Documentary Film with Matt Moyer, and Documentary Photography with Amy Toensing. Visit cs.meca.edu for more info.

For more information, visit this page or contact Raffi Der Simonian, Director of Marketing & Communications at 207.699.5010 or rdersimonian@meca.edu.

About Salt
The 42-year-old Salt Institute for Documentary Studies (Salt) is based in Portland, Maine. Salt offers semester-long intensives and short-term workshop programs in media arts– including radio, writing, photography and video/multimedia– with a mission to educate and promote documentary storytellers.

About MECA
Maine College of Art (MECA) is Maine’s only professional college of art and design, and one of only thirty such institutions in the country. MECA offers three professional degrees: a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in eleven Majors, a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) for artists who wish to teach PK-12, and a Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art (MFA). We hold accreditation from both the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). In Fall 2015, 471 students were enrolled in degree-granting programs, the majority of them in the BFA program. All of MECA’s academic programs are aligned with our mission: to educate artists for life. Our programs focus on artistic excellence, civic engagement and entrepreneurship, and are tied together with a college-wide educational philosophy consisting of Studio, Agency, Place, Community and Ethics.

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