AUGUSTA — The Maine Arts Commission will distribute more than $127,000 in economic aid directly to artists and cultural organizations.

By creating two new grants — the Resilience Artist grant and the Organization Relief Grant — the commission is able to award $36,000 to individual artists, and $91,436 to support arts organizations that are experiencing economic hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re grateful for the opportunity to provide fully funded awards to organizations and individuals in need,” said Commission Executive Director David Greenham, according to a news release from the commission.

Since January, the commission has restructured part of its grant program and undergone personnel changes that resulted in some cost saving procedures. Agency staff, under the leadership of Greenham, made it a priority to direct additional funds back into the arts sector.

“We used the remainder of the CARES money for organization grants, and we matched that with money freed up through efficiencies to create a relief program for artists,” said Kerstin Gilg, the commission’s Grants Director. “We accelerated the grant review process so awardees could be notified by early March. It is important the money gets to those who need it quickly.”

“However,” Greenham added, “this funding is not enough to meet the need among organizations and individual artists in Maine. Cultural venues were among the very first to close when the pandemic hit and will likely be among the last to open. It is incumbent upon us to continue to work to provide what funds we can, and to work with state agencies to ensure guidelines for the safety of artists and audiences are clear as venues look to reopen.”

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