July 25, 2020
Eleven years ago, Tammy Ackerman and her partner, Joshua Bodwell, saw a need in the community for an organization that would advocate for the advancement for the arts in Biddeford. A couple of attempts to form an organization had failed. Seeing an opportunity left by this void, Ackerman and Bodwell, along with another friend Stephen Abbott, buckled up and formed Engine with a mission to revitalize downtown Biddeford via the arts.
Engine refers to movement and energy, which is an interesting play on words for the organization's name. Founded on the belief that artistic expression and creative vibrancy are the gateways to cultural, social, and economic revitalization, Engine is committed to designing, launching, and promoting community-based arts programming. Engine aspires to be a driver of artistic expression, creative industry, cultural vitality, community connections, and socially responsible practices. Engine's mission is to connect and inspire our community through art, design, and education.
Tammy is proud of the broad reach Engine has made throughout the state with the arts community and developing relationships. However, being Executive Director hasn’t come without challenges. Engine has faced difficulty getting the communities to understand the value the arts have in economic development. Tammy has made a valiant effort to make the organization vibrant and accessible, giving the community an anchor to connect with each other.
This Fall, Tammy will be leaving her legacy to someone yet unknown, but she does have advice and wisdom to impart on her successor:
Tammy hopes to see Engine evolve and change to be instrumental in what Biddeford looks like going forward. She hopes the organization can conjure creative solutions for municipal problems, real human need problems, and that creative people get the opportunity to be part of the team that helps derive solutions. “Artists and designers are uniquely qualified for that,” she said. “I am not implying it’s better, it’s just different. With creative minds, there is no solution that’s off the table. I hope that Engine continues to engage people in the future of the community they live in.”
“I’ve really enjoyed this time,” Tammy continued, “it’s been such a learning curve. I went from never having been an Executive Director, to having been one for 11 years now. Engine has been such a big part of the last decade of my life, and the experience has been extremely gratifying. I don’t know what’s next for me given these times. I most likely will fall back on graphic design roots. For now, I am planning on enjoying a respite.”
Tammy has played a major role in the evolution of Biddeford-Saco over the past decade and we wish her the best in her future endeavors!