A new event will bring seven speakers to Portland to share their ideas on the role of education, business and community within the arts of Maine. A networking reception will follow the series of ten-minute talks. Portland Stage Company’s main stage theater at will host the event on Monday, March 31, at 7:00pm. Admission is free but reserving a seat early at DirigoTalks.com is recommended as space is limited.

Keynoting the event is Scarborough-native Jeff M. Poulin from Washington, D.C.-based Americans for the Arts. Americans for the Arts is the nation's leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts in America. With more than 50 years of service, it is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. “As a product of a Maine K-12 arts education, it is important to give back to the community from which I came,” Poulin says. “I am achieving personal and professional goals because of the arts-rich education I received as a student and in the face of budget cuts and classroom time restrictions, I would hope to see the same type of education guaranteed for all Maine students for years to come.”

The 1.5 hour event will also feature speakers from Maine College of Art (director Jessica Tomlinson), University of Southern Maine (professor Dr. Jeff Beaudry), Portland Ballet Company (Artistic Director Genie O’Brien), Maine Principals’ Association (asst. Exec. Director Jeanne Crocker), Portland City Council ( Councilor Marshall) and Portland Stage Company (Artistic Director Anita Stewart).

“By bringing together key thought leaders in the arts space, we hope to spark creative ideas and forge new partnerships for the arts in southern Maine,” says Dirigo Talks founder and executive director Luke Nielson.

Nielson was inspired to create Dirigo Talks after spending three years interviewing his peers for a self-help book he wrote in college. “I was amazed with the experiences and storytelling I heard from everyday Mainers, so we created a face-to-face platform to give them a voice,” Nielson says. Dirigo Talks produces speaking events in southern Maine focused on various topics to share stories of authentic Maine leadership.

The event is sponsored by Running with Scissors, a community of artist studios in Portland. Dirigo Talks is a program of the Saco Bay Center for Civic Engagement, a Maine non-profit founded by Rep. Justin Chenette (D-Saco) to foster active citizenship. Visit DirigoTalks.com to learn more and RSVP for the free event.