Maine Arts Commission to make more changes to help artists and art organizations

From the Portland Press Herald: Maine Arts Commission to be more responsive
The group will hold a workshop in Portland on Wednesday to discuss changes to its grants programs.
BY BOB KEYES

Excerpt from the story:

The Maine Arts Commission, which distributes about $500,000 annually, is working to become more responsive to the arts community with a retooled grants program and the hiring of a new assistant director whose expertise involves running a small arts organization…

The Maine Arts Commission will hold a workshop from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Osher Hall, Maine College of Art, 522 Congress St., Portland. The workshop will explain changes to the commission’s grant program.

“I was hearing the arts commission was a bit out of touch of the needs of the field,” Richard said. “We’ve been trying to fix that. There is a lot of work to be done. We need more funding to do that in the way I would like to see, but we’re making progress.”

The commission has an annual budget of about $1.7 million, funded by the state and the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts. It recently hired Linda Nelson, artistic director of Opera House Arts in Stonington, to serve as assistant director. Nelson, who has served as a commissioner in the past, has been critical of the arts commission, saying its grant programs were unresponsive to the changing needs of artists and arts presenters.

Nelson begins her job May 1…

UNRESTRICTED FUNDS

Among the new grants available are partnership grants for organizations, ranging from $3,000 to $25,000. They’re intended for general operational support, meaning the money is unrestricted. Organizations can use it as they see fit and are required to enter a partnership with the commission, which will provide training in planning and budgeting to help grantees achieve higher professional standards.

Organizations must submit to an audit, depending on their budget size, and address questions about marketing, strategies and finances…

The commission also has reworked individual grants. It provides grants up to $2,500 to help artists create new work and continue existing programs. Project grants also are available for organizations, up to $5,000.

NEW WEBSITE, STRATEGIC PLAN

In mid-March, the commission will unveil a new grant website to make it easier to apply. The application deadline for most grants is April 13. Other deadlines are early May.

Richard and her staff will present a draft of the commission’s new strategic plan for feedback in March. The meetings will be 9 a.m. to noon March 17 at the University of Southern Maine in Portland, 1 to 4 p.m. March 18 at the Collins Center for the Arts at the University of Maine in Orono, and 10 a.m. to noon March 19 at University of Maine at Presque Isle.

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