The philanthropic arm of the Maine Arts Commission and the Maine Humanities Council recently disbursed nearly $500,000 to artists and nonprofit humanities and cultural organizations in Maine, and the deadline is fast approaching for regional arts groups to apply for a “resilience fund” of the New England Foundation for the Arts to help arts organizations through the pandemic and its fallout.

ArtsEngageME, an advocacy and support organization of the Maine Arts Commission, distributed $73,000 in $500 grants to 146 artists across the state through its Maine Artist Relief Fund. The fund has received more than 315 applications from artists across all media who lost work because of the coronavirus.

Larry Rubinstein, chairman of the ArtsEngageME board, said fundraising to add to the coffers continues. “The pitch is obvious. Artists are hurting because of what happened, and we need to sustain the arts community in Maine because it’s such an important part of the economy and culture of the state,” he said. “So whenever we can raise a few thousand bucks, we are.”

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Meanwhile, the Maine Humanities Council distributed $424,000 in what it called “rapid-response” coronavirus relief grants to 94 Maine nonprofit humanities and cultural organizations, including libraries, historical societies, literacy groups and theater presenters. The money can be used to cover organizational expenses, said Hayden Anderson, executive director of Maine Humanities. “As grant-makers committed to serving Maine’s communities, we’re honored to support the grassroots cultural organizations that are most deeply affected by the pandemic,” he said in a press release. “These grants will ensure that vital community-based organizations can continue to find creative ways of serving their communities.”

Anderson said the applications and money were split across Maine, with 46 organizations from Maine’s First Congressional District receiving money and 48 in District 2. Applications were also nearly even, with 90 coming from the second district and 89 from the first. At least two organizations in each county received money, he said.

The average grant was $4,500, with a minimum of $1,000 and a maximum of $6,000. In Cumberland County, among the groups receiving money were Indigo Arts Alliance, Maine Jewish Film Festival, Mechanics’ Hall, Mayo Street Arts, Snowlion Repertory Company and the United Society of Shakers. In York County, the Berwick Library Association, the Brick Store Museum and Ogunquit Memorial Library also received grants.

The money distributed in Maine is part of the $70 million appropriated to the National Endowment for the Humanities through the CARES Act.

Finally, Tuesday is the deadline for arts groups to apply for the the New England Arts Resilience Fund of the New England Foundation for the Arts. The fund will provide approximately 50 grants from $10,000 to $75,000. For details, visit

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