Space Gallery in Portland will distribute $1,000 grants to 60 Maine artists, thanks to the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Artists can apply for the grants through the Space website (space538.org) beginning Friday, and the money will be distributed by May 1, said Kelsey Halliday Johnson, executive director of Space.

“We need artists to get through this. The last thing we want is for them to be food insecure or struggling to pay their rent,” she said. “This is a quick turnaround, but we really want to get checks out by May 1.”

This is at least the third emergency relief fund for artists that has been established in the Portland area. On Monday, the Westbrook City Council preliminarily approved a $50,000 donation from the Warren Memorial Foundation to distribute as $1,500 individual grants to out-of-work Westbrook artists or those facing financial hardship because the pandemic. Creative Portland has raised more than $25,000 toward its $50,000 goal to establish an artist relief fund, which would distribute $500 stipends to individual artists.

Also Wednesday, a coalition of national arts grant makers, including the Academy of American Poets, Artadia, Creative Capital, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, MAP Fund, National YoungArts Foundation and United States Artists, announced an artist relief to provide unrestricted $5,000 grants to assist artists and writers facing financial emergencies because of the coronavirus and COVID-19.

The money from the Warhol Foundation would have been earmarked for next year’s Kindling Fund grants, Johnson said. As a re-granting partner of the Warhol Foundation, Space receives foundation money for the Kindling Fund the year before it distributes it as project grants for artists and arts collectives, typically at $5,000 apiece. Space is one of 16 Warhol Foundation re-granting partners across the country.

Last week, Johnson asked the foundation if Space could use next year’s money to create an artist relief fund in Portland. The foundation agreed, and implemented her idea across its national network. The grants are intended to cover rent, food, childcare, medical bills and other basic costs.

“The Warhol Foundation is committed to working at both the national and regional level to provide support for artists at this critical moment. With the help of our Regional Re-granting network, we are able to directly address the emergency-related needs of artists in cities where the level of on-the-ground, self-organized artistic activity is highest,” Joel Wachs, the president of the Warhol Foundation, said in a news release.

Johnson said “it’s going to be a different kind of year next year” without Kindling Fund grants, but many of the projects funded this year likely will be moved to next year because of the coronavirus. Artists need the money now, she said, “and we need artists to get us through this.”


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