In early 2017, dance instructor/circus performer Nettie Gentempo and her husband, musician/songwriter/farmer Jonathan Leavitt, began renting the second floor space at 290 Main St. in Norway, ME, and renovated multiple rooms into a beautiful dance studio to use as a base for the NEVAEH dance circus. The rental space included 4 other rooms, one of which was used as an office for Leavitt’s production company.
In 2018, recognizing the need for a larger creative community, an appropriate space to house it, and a reliable income stream to cover the cost of the space, Nettie, Jonathan, and local artist/fellow NEVAEH dancer Jessica Cooper, set out together to re-create the space as a multi-purpose homebase for local artists, musicians, poets, writers, dancers, and creators of all kinds. This space was named House Lorax.
House Lorax is equipped with a fully functioning band room/jam space, dance studio, art gallery, community art room, kitchen, and office, all with the common purpose -- to bring in local artists that are searching for a creative community to inspire and work with.
In early 2019 Jess, Jonathan, and Nettie took the next step and founded the non-profit Creative Norway, which has allowed the board members to more effectively take on large projects such as managing House Lorax and organizing the Norway Music and Arts Festival, 2 years running. Other projects include putting on the Norway Fringe Showcase, sponsoring both the NEVAEH Dance Circus (and Jr. Dance Circus), producing the Longley Square Summer Performance Series, and most recently giving life to Cow Pasture Community Theater.
Creative Norway was founded primarily to create more opportunities for artists to express themselves, to give voice to creative folks who are often marginalized and unseen, and to provide a creative space to cultivate a deep sense of community where the creators can work together to support and inspire each other.
The space at House Lorax has been sustained as a membership-based collective, and since it’s start has relied on the financial and in-kind support of the involved artists to be able to keep the space open for classes and for community use.
In light of the recent global crisis COVID-19 and now nearing 3 months of government mandated stay-at-home orders, these local artists have been forced to refrain from gathering and using the space, with limited flexibility to waive rent. The stay-at-home order has also diminished the primary teachers' ability to bring in income, which not only suppresses their livelihoods, but also pushes the costs of rent onto the board members, who are also under strain from the effects of complete government shutdown, as are so many in the community.
Your support to Creative Norway’s campaign, not only aids the nonprofit in giving voice to creators, helping to support resilient community members, and preserving authentic expression in all forms -- but also sustains their ability to re-open as a collective space to local artists and students once it is deemed safe to do so.
We thank you sincerely for your support and hope to see you all soon!
The Creative Norway board, teachers, and community