Under the supervision of Penobscot artist Barry Dana, students Maddie Thorndike, left, and Carly McCabe built a wigwam on the west lawn of the Skowhegan History House campus summer 2020. The wigwam construction was the first phase of a two-year exhibit, “Wabanaki Voices: Connecting Past, Present, Future,” organized by the SHH with support from a Maine Expansion Arts Fund grant in 2019. Photo by Susan Cochran

MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett have announced a $2.5 million gift to the Maine Community Foundation’s Maine Expansion Arts Fund. The endowed fund supports indigenous, ethnic or rural arts programs or projects in Maine, particularly those that serve areas with limited access to arts events.

“This gift will more than double our annual grant budget,” said MaineCF Senior Program Officer Leslie Goode, who manages the Maine Expansion Arts Fund, according to a news release from the foundation. “In recent years, we have been able to award grants to about half of the deserving proposals, so this will be a boost to those organizations whose good work and ideas would otherwise go unfunded.” Goode noted that the fund will expand its outreach to organizations led by Black, Indigenous and other people of color.

An advisory committee of Maine artists and others knowledgeable about needs of the state’s arts organizations and programs reviews applications and recommends awards. In 2020, the Maine Expansion Arts Fund awarded 13 grants totaling $59,250 to nonprofit organizations across the state. Local grants included:
• Bethel Area Arts & Music, to install a large-scale, public art mural inspired by members of the community and designed by a professional Maine artist: $5,000
• Friends of the DaPonte String Quartet, Damariscotta, to bring a Maine Bicentennial Concert and accompanying educational opportunities to underserved communities in Maine: $5,000
• Deertrees Theatre, Harrison, to reach out to senior citizens, students and immigrants by providing affordable entertainment and offering informational meetings, classes and volunteering possibilities
• Maine Forestry Museum, Rangeley, to promote, expand and preserve the folk art traditions of clogging, bluegrass/folk music, and childhood oral lore: $3,000

The arts fund was launched in 1988 as a collaborative effort of the community foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Lillian Berliawsky Charitable Trust and Maine Arts Commission to strengthen and ensure the future of Maine’s artistic traditions. Additional funding has been provided over the years through the Elizabeth Laughlin Anderson Memorial Fund and the estate of Phyllis and Francis Hamabe.

The next deadline for grant applications is Sept. 15. Guidelines, application and a list of recent grants are available at mainecf.org. For information about applying for a grant, contact Leslie Goode at [email protected].

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