Q & A with PACA’s Executive Director Cathy Valenza

cathy-valenzaFor those who don’t know, what does the Portland Arts & Cultural Alliance (PACA) do? PACA’s mission is to support and empower artists to strengthen Portland. Programs such as First Friday Art Walk positively impact not only artists, but also businesses such as galleries and restaurants, to name only a few, stimulating Portland’s creative economy.Any PACA news to share? PACA is serving as a fiscal sponsor for Maine’s Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts. We are partnering with them and with Constellation Art in April to present a networking opportunity for local artists. PACA is also now the administrator for the City of Portland’s Public Art Committee. We’ll have a full program of public art lectures and Creative Conversations for the Spring.

So, what qualifies you, the PACA Director to be a PDD Personality? My office is located in the PDD offices at 549 Congress Street. I have been using part of the space to display work by different artists for two month periods. My goal is to show a wide variety of art and to choose artists who do not have gallery affiliations or who may have limited exhibition opportunities.

How did you become interested in the Arts? I went to a school that required three years of humanities; history, literature, music and art. The experience grew into a desire to explore art more deeply. While in college and working towards earning my BA in Visual Arts, I was fortunate to land an internship at the Islip Art Museum on Long Island. I spent my time working with contemporary artists presenting both traditional and experimental art as a registrar and then as a curator. What I enjoyed most was supporting artists whose work pushed boundaries and helped the viewer reconsider their definitions of art. It didn’t take long for me to realize that museum work was right for me, especially because of the impact museums have on communities. I worked in Islip for 19 years and then spent another year working in the arts on Long Island before moving to Maine.

What brought you to Portland? A friend of mine moved here. I visited often and discovered there was a quality to Portland that felt refreshing to me. The pace was more appealing here. I felt happier energetically. I realized that I was visiting more often – every month or two, so, I relocated.

What drives you, what is your passion? The desire to support artists drives me. As for my passion, art is it – art is my life.

To learn more about PACA visit http://www.portlandarts.org.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s