Arts organization obtains $ 250,000 grant to fund projects by Maine artists of all stripes


PORTLAND, Maine – A local arts organization is interested in giving dozens of individual artists in Maine a grant for their projects.

SPACE, a multidisciplinary arts nonprofit, has received $ 250,000 in pandemic relief funds that it intends to redistribute to artists in Maine. The organization is one of 66 U.S. organizations to receive $ 20 million in funding through the National Endowment for the Arts made available through the American Rescue Plan and designed to help artists during the pandemic.

“I’m really excited to be standing next to the current artistic workforce,” said Kelsey Halladay Johnson, CEO of the organization. “We are able to envision different types of artistic programming work that we have not been able to touch with the granting before. ”

The funds will be awarded to independent artists who work in a variety of disciplines, including creative writing, music, film, performance and the visual arts. This is different from many other arts funding, which is often used to support the programming or administrative work of regional arts organizations, which have also had access to PPP loans in the past 18 months.

Musicians, performers and other artists have been hit hard by the pandemic, which has closed or limited the functions of venues offering in-person stages, galleries or other services. A third of nonprofits in the United States were in financial danger from the pandemic, according to a joint study conducted in March 2021 by research group Candid and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, and many of them were arts organizations.

According to Johnson, the pandemic has widened the gaps between well-heeled artists and recent college graduates and other young artists who lack access to wealth or resources. Grants like these can help solve this problem.

“These types of project-based grants are really about the integrity of an idea and artistic excellence,” Johnson said. “They can be huge portals for artists to move from one phase of their career to another.”

The organization will announce separate discipline-based application dates in January 2022. Johnson estimates individual scholarships to be between $ 3,500 and $ 5,000.

SPACE distributed more than $ 284,000 in grants to artists in Maine during the pandemic, including the project based on Sonic Visions Fund and a Maine Musician Relief Fund which awarded grants of $ 1,000 to 70 musicians statewide. The organization also hosts the annual Kindling Fund, which provides grants to visual artists through the Andy Warhol Foundation.

Local artists have also received help through the Maine Arts Commission. The state program distributed more than $ 127,000 in March, of which $ 36,000 went to individual artists and more than $ 91,000 to arts organizations.

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, a Democrat who oversees the funding of the NEA as chair of the House Appropriations subcommittee for Home, Environment and Related Agencies, presented the relief grants to emergency as tools to aid the creative economy of the state.

“The arts are a $ 1.5 billion industry and support thousands of jobs, but despite the previous help from the CARES Act, our cultural institutions and our arts community continue to face serious challenges as they are struggling to recover, ”Pingree said.

Entering its 20th year, SPACE recently increased the number of board seats from 10 to 15, hoping to “bring more diversity and cultural perspectives. [for] a better balance of contributions to our decision-making, ”said Board Chair Emily Bruce.

The organization has so far added three notable names with Maine connections to its board of directors, artist Rachel Gloria Adams; Pablo Anaya of the ACLU of Maine and Justine Ludwig, a graduate of Colby College and executive director of the New York-based public arts organization Creative Time.


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