The National Endowment for the Arts announced Monday that it will issue $900,000 in grants to five Maine arts organizations, with the vast majority going to the Maine Arts Commission to support arts organizations and individual artists throughout the state.

The federal agency is issuing $84 million in new grants across the country, with $795,000 of it allocated to the Maine Arts Commission, which will “ensure (Maine) citizens maintain access to the arts,” the commission said in a news release.

The Maine Arts Commission said it reviewed 235 grant applications this year and received a $38,000 increase in funding from the endowment over last fiscal year.

Although COVID-19 has affected the operation of many Maine arts organizations, the way the Maine Arts Commission funds organizations has not changed because it received fewer project grant applications, said Executive Director Julie A. Richard.

“Many organizations that (usually) apply for project grants shifted their applications to the organizational development grant,” Richard said.

The other four NEA grant recipients are Portland Ovations, which received $50,000; Points North Institute, which runs the Camden International Film Festival and received $25,000; and the Telling Room and Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, which each received $15,000.

Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, in Deer Isle, has suspended all programming for the 2020 season because of COVID-19. Haystack’s NEA funding typically covers targeted programming, which has included programs for LGBTQ teens in Maine in collaboration with Out Maine, said Executive Director Paul Sacaridiz.

This year, Haystack received NEA funding to run an arts program for national veterans, which has been pushed to 2022 because of the pandemic. Until Haystack is able to restart programming and plan for the veterans program in 2022, the NEA will hold Haystack’s grant, Sacaridiz said.

“The NEA has shown itself to be flexible and that their commitment to arts organizations they are working with is steadfast. This is an extraordinary time, and they realize this program’s importance and are willing to extend the deadline of the project, which I think is really remarkable,” Sacaridiz said.

The Telling Room opted to offer its Young Writers and Leaders Program, funded by an NEA grant, virtually this year, said Executive Director Celine Kuhn.

“The way we have applied for money has not changed, but the way that we are delivering the program has changed,” Kuhn said.

The NEA grant funds the Points North Institute’s artist programs and has been “vital” to the organization, said executive and artistic director Ben Fowlie.

Though the way arts organizations operate may have shifted, the need for federal funding remains.

“These are dire times,” Sacaridiz said. “There is no precedent for what arts organizations are experiencing this year. Federal funding has never been more important to sustain arts organizations and allow us the flexibility to resume in-person programs.”

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.