AUGUSTA — The first round of grants totaling $24,000 in support of 48 Maine artists who have been hit hard by the economic impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus will be distributed through the newly created Maine Artist Relief Fund at ArtsEngageME, according to a news release from the Board of Directors of the support organization for the Maine Arts Commission.

In addition, the New England Foundation for the Arts has awarded ArtsEngageME $47,000 to enable further support to artists in the coming weeks. This funding is part of $282,000 in emergency relief from the foundation that was divided equally among the six New England states.

These funds will supplement the Maine Artist Relief Fund which was established March 23 to provide grants of $500 to artists who live in Maine and whose creative practices and incomes are being adversely impacted by the coronavirus. With events of all types being canceled to reduce the spread of COVID-19, people who make income partially or fully through performances, exhibits, and events are losing critical opportunities to support their well-being in Maine.

“The ArtsEngageME board recognized the hardship to artists caused by COVID-19 and immediately agreed to help. This extra funding from NEFA is so needed right now and this, along with other donations we received allowed us to expand the number of grants we can give,” said Larry Rubinstein, president of the ArtsEngageME board, according to the release.

Private donations to the fund also are being accepted and can be made at aplos.com.

The more than 22,000 artists and creative workers who live in Maine are significant contributors to Maine’s economy, who, along with creative organizations, make up 2.5% of the state’s GDP.

For an application to the Maine Artist Relief Fund, visit artsengageme.org.

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