April 27, 2018
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Maine arts groups to receive stimulus funds

By Jessica Bloch, BDN Staff

AUGUSTA, Maine — Funding soon will be available to mitigate layoffs and preserve jobs in Maine’s nonprofit arts community.

Gov. John Baldacci signed Monday afternoon a certification to request funds made available by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 for arts and culture in Maine.

The grants are designed to subsidize the preservation of jobs and may not be used for the creation of a new position or for previously unscheduled work.

“I think the government arts jobs are real jobs and that they are central to our nation’s recovery just like any other worker,” said Maine Arts Commission director Donna McNeil.

Baldacci, McNeil and MAC chairman John Rohman made the announcement in the State House Cabinet Room, outside of which hang paintings by artists Robert Indiana of Vinalhaven and J. Normand Martin of Bangor.

The MAC will deliver $293,100 in funds to about 25 Maine-based nonprofit arts organizations. The maximum grant amount is $10,000. The MAC is keeping $38,000 for itself to fund a temporary staff position for coordination of the grant process. The state commission could have kept up to $50,000.

“We greatly value our arts and the cultural institutions in Maine,” Baldacci said. “They help to define quality of place in our state. … These funds will help our cultural organizations that contribute so much to the character of Maine, including our creative economy, our downtown revitalization, and cultural tourism.”

In order to be eligible for funds, organizations must be nonprofit and legally established in Maine; must have tax-exempt status 501(c)3 from the Internal Revenue Service; must promote, present, produce and-or teach visual, performing or literary arts as its primary purpose, and must have completed and filed all final reports required for previously awarded MAC grants.

The funds will be delivered to Maine by April 1. Guidelines will be announced shortly thereafter and funds will be distributed at the end of the summer, McNeil said.

The grant program will be competitive and organizations will have to make their case around jobs retention, she added.

In addition to the state funding, 32 Maine arts organizations will be eligible for grants of $25,000 to $50,000 directly through the National Endowment for the Arts. Those organizations are ones that have received an NEA grant in the last four years.

Those eligible for NEA funds include the American Folk Festival on the Bangor Waterfront, the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance of Old Town, the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockport, Cultural Resources Inc. of Rockport, Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport, Opera House Arts of Stonington and Seal Bay Festival of Vinalhaven.

Some organizations may be eligible for funding through the New England Foundation for the Arts. Organizations can receive funding through only one source.

None of the funding avenues requires a match by the applicant.

The stimulus funds originated from a $50 million share received by the NEA, which kept $30 million to allocate money to organizations such as the ones listed above. The remaining $20 million goes to individual states. The amount per state is determined by a formula based on population.

Rohman, a Bangor resident and the CEO of WBRC Architects-Engineers, said arts funding is crucial for the economic recovery of the nation.

He used the Downtown Arts Walk held Friday, March 20, which brought hundreds of people to art studios, galleries, shops, the University of Maine Museum of Art, and downtown restaurants, as an example of how the arts can stimulate the economy.

“When we went around to try to find a place to eat all the restaurants were full,” Rohman said after the announcement. “What more could you ask for than that kind of stimulus? That’s exactly what you ask for, what NEA and arts commission dollars do.”

A complete list of Maine nonprofit arts organizations eligible for funding through the National Endowment for the Arts is available by clicking the link below.



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