Federal money, and the promise of more, is headed to Maine as arts organizations navigate a new landscape rendered unpredictable and perilous by the coronavirus pandemic.

Seven Maine arts groups received a total of $80,000 from the New England Arts Resilience Fund to help with recovery from the ongoing pandemic and to plan for the future. The grants come through the New England Arts Resilience Fund, which is part of the United States Arts Resilience Fund. The New England Foundation for the Arts distributed the regional money.

Suspended from the ceiling, “Iran Si Iran” (2019), by Eniola Dawodu, was at the center of the “Punctures” installation at Space in Portland before the pandemic. Space was among the Maine arts groups to receive a recent American Rescue Plan grant. Photo by Carolyn Wachnicki

Maine organizations receiving money are the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, $15,000; Art At Work, Portland, $5,000; Indigo Arts Alliance, Portland, $20,000; LA Arts, Lewiston, $10,000; Opera House Arts, Stonington, $10,000; Bates Dance Festival, Lewiston, $10,000; and Space, Portland, $10,000.

In all, the New England Foundation for the Arts announced 73 awards totaling $840,000 across New England.

“These awards are possible thanks to the American Rescue Plan and the National Endowment for the Arts,” New England Foundation for the Arts Executive Director Cathy Edwards said in a press release. “Federal investment in the arts and culture sector reaches every congressional district; given the research on the economic and social benefits of the arts, this support is crucial and an essential aspect of community health.”

According to Americans for the Arts, job losses at nonprofit arts organizations nationally are three times higher than the nonprofit average, and slightly more than 10 percent of those organizations are not confident of their survival.


Since the program’s inception, the New England Arts Resilience Fund has awarded nearly $2.8 million to the sector.

Meanwhile, the office of U.S. Sen. Angus King this past week announced that the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland had received $50,000, the maximum grant total, from the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ American Rescue Plan grant program. The museum will hire a digital media specialist; further develop online programming and virtual services; upgrade Wi-Fi and create additional computer and tablet stations across its campus and historic buildings; and install a dedicated server for better access to digital images in its collection.

David Greenham, executive director of the Maine Arts Commission, encouraged artists and arts organizations to apply for Arts Jobs grants before Nov. 18. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Finally, the Maine Arts Commission announced two new grant programs, also supported by American Rescue plan money, for job creation and to bolster the creative workforce. Individual artists and nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply for an Arts Jobs Grant, with maximum awards up to $15,000. All applications are due by Nov. 18. The goal of the program is to develop new opportunities for artists and encourage employee retention among arts organizations, according to the commission.

David Greenham, executive director of the Maine Arts Commission, called the federal funding “a start” and one positive step in the effort to help create and retain arts jobs. “More needs to be done and we are working to encourage our partners in the state and federal government, and in the private sector to join us in this work,” Greenham said in a press release announcing the grant programs. “Maine’s cultural life is something we all cherish, and our creative workers deserve our continued attention and support as we discover what life looks like in a post-pandemic world.”

Individual artists can apply here, while arts organizations can apply here.

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