Maine Arts & Culture Sector Can Prepare for the Caronavirus

  • September 01, 2020


*A important VIDEO message for Maine artists and arts organizations amidst the COVID-19 crisis. This video contains the latest news on relief efforts for artists, opportunities, and stimulus spending updates for Maine's arts and culture sector.


National Endowment for the Arts - Resources for Artists & Arts Organizations and FAQ

Americans for the Arts - Resource and Response Center

Americans for the Arts - Artist Relief Fund 

ArtsReady and the Performing Arts Readiness project have released the Pocket Response Resource

ArtsEngageME - Maine Artist Relief Fund - The Maine Artist Relief Fund will be suspended until further notice due to lack of available funds. No more applications will be accepted at this time.  Applicants who have incomplete submissions in the Grants Management System will have until May 18, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. to complete and submit the application.
CERF+  the Artists Safety Net provides financial assistance to artists working in craft disciplines who are facing dire circumstances from the COVID-19 crisis. 

Creative Portland - Artist Relief Fund 

COVID-19 CARES Act Relief Resources and FAQ

Maine Audiences Weigh In on Reopening of Theaters & Performing Arts Venues

De-escalation & Stress Management Trainings for Front Line Workers Through Hospitality Maine: 



Freelance Artist Resources

OPPORTUNITY - The Jack Pine Project - Responding to Crisis Through Art 

Maine Community Foundation Emergency Response Fund to support community-based organizations 

Maine Department of Economic & Community Development - Phase 2 - MUSEUMS & PUBLIC GATHERINGS

Maine Department of Economic & Community DevelopmentPhase 3- PERFORMING ARTS VENUES

Plan for Governor Mills to Restart Maine's Economy 

Maine Made marketing list of all the makers in ME who are making masks, soaps, and hand sanitizers. 

Free Webinar - "How to Ask for $ In Tough Times: 12 Tactics in 24 Minutes" Featuring Matt Lehrman of Social Prosperity Partners

Free Webinar - "Crisis Engagement - 12 Tasks to Sustain Donors in Turbulent Times" - Featuring Matt Lehrman of Social Prosperity Partners 

Free Webinar - "Understanding Ourselves and the Critical Need for Self-Care" - Featuring Winden Rowe 

Free Webinar - "Paycheck Protection Loan Forgiveness Application Forms and Flexibility Rules" - Americans For The Arts 

Free Webinar - "COVID-19 Federal Relief Funds for the Arts 101 Series- Americans For The Arts 

Free Webinar - "Engaging Your Audience During and After COVID-19- Americans For The Arts 

U.S. Chamber - Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act: What small businesses need to know

Video: Unemployment Insurance & Covid-19 with Maine Labor Commissioner Fortman

Cherished PossessionsMaine's largest online consignment store is offering free e-commerce support services to Maine artists 

COVID-19 Projections - State by State 

TAKE THE IMPACT SURVEYS - This will give us a strong foundation as we promote the inclusion of the arts and culture sector in any stimulus package options and other Federal relief measures.

SURVEY FOR ORGANIZATIONS                                                  SURVEY FOR ARTISTS


Updated August 12,, 2020 - 12:06 p.m. 

Maine Arts Commission publishes results of Audience Outlook survey

AUGUSTA--The first deployment of Audience Outlook surveys from the Maine Arts Commission occurred on July 10 resulting in a total of 4,080 responses to date. The Audience Outlook survey is designed to measure audience comfort levels and assess the reopening of performing arts venues and public presentation spaces throughout Maine. Currently public gatherings and presentation spaces are open under the state issued guidelines administered by Governor Mills’ Office and the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention.  These survey results represent a baseline, and the Arts Commission will track changes in attitudes as responses are collected in subsequent months. 

Results Summary

  • When asked what size venue audiences would feel comfortable in, more than half (51%) of respondents said they would “not be comfortable” attending a show, regardless of the venue size. 
  • When asked how the respondent would determine that it’s safe to return to a live presentation, the top response was “not until there is a vaccine or immunity to the virus.” This response was reinforced by another question in the survey asking if audiences would attend provided there are no outbreaks/hot spots in the area.  
  • Almost 60% of respondents said they would be “somewhat comfortable” attending an outdoor concert, but, conversely more than 80% said they would not be comfortable attending a venue without seats or adequate spacing.

Proposed Safety Measures

The Audience Outlook survey tested attitudes toward a list of safety measures that performing arts spaces can take to reduce the risk of virus transmission. Overall, respondents were most encouraged by lower crowd attendance and proper social distancing measures. The top safety measures as indicated by the respondents were: 

  • To be seated at least 6 feet from people who are not immediate family members
  • To know that the venue has placed crowd size limits on the number of attendees
  • To avoid long queues of people
  • To know the venue’s cleaning procedures
  • Almost 60% of respondents would be willing to pay a higher ticket price to be ensured they are safe.
  • Almost 60% of respondents would return immediately to live performing events as soon as a vaccine is available. And another 50% would return within six months.

The survey’s findings represent the first wave of data sets recorded from Maine audiences. It is important to note the survey summary finds that Maine audiences do express a desire to return to live events. Implementing safety measures to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus at venues is regarded as important to the survey’s respondents, however, the safety measures remain secondary to having a vaccine readily available in order for venues to resume a normal schedule with full audience attendance. 

The Maine Arts Commission remains dedicated to distributing the most up-to-date and relevant information that affects not only the several hundred dedicated community arts spaces spread across the state, but all spaces where the performing arts and public presentations take place. 

Additional information and resources can be found at the Maine Arts Commission’s COVID-19 Resources Page.

To learn more about the Maine Arts Commission’s current and future programs please go to www.MaineArts.comYou can also join us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram @MaineArts.  


The Jack Pine Project - Responding to Crisis Through Art 

The current pandemic and shutdown has affected many aspects of our lives. Many groups have been directly affected, including health care workers, teachers, hospitality workers, and others. Parents are coping with childcare and home schooling on top of employment changes or lost income. And for vulnerable groups from the homeless to the elderly to the incarcerated, as well as those with chronic health conditions or who have contracted the coronavirus, the need to recover is real.

The creative arts offer a way to help by allowing people to express their feelings and tell their stories in multiple ways. Projects like Songwriting With Soldiers and the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop connect people in difficult, life-altering circumstances with professional teachers who help them express their feelings and ideas through the arts. The stories and songs created are powerful and authentic, and the effects on students and their teachers are remarkable and transformative.

The Jack Pine Project responds to the current crisis by connecting inspirational teachers in the arts with cohorts of students from around Maine. Through a series of workshops, Maine artists, musicians, writers and others will work with various groups to help them express their thoughts, feelings, concerns, and hopes for the future. The project is coordinated by the Maine Folklife Center at the University of Maine, with support from the university’s Hutchinson Center in Belfast.

The title of the project is drawn from the Jack pine, a species native to Maine that thrives in areas burnt by wildfire, needing the heat of fire to release its seeds. The image of a pine seedling emerging from burnt ground is emblematic of Maine’s reemergence from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the role of the arts in this process.

Call for Participants

We are seeking cohorts of students who would like to work with an instructor in a particular medium. Ideally, each cohort would consist of people in a similar occupation, circumstance, or location, all affected by the pandemic in some way. Individuals in a workshop can come from across the State of Maine, or be connected through a common workplace. These are non-credit workshops, and there is no cost to participants.

Students should be able to participate fully, meeting via Zoom or other technology with the instructor and fellow students for the duration of the workshop. They should also have adequate time to implement what they are learning, and to complete a final project of some sort. Students must also be willing to be recorded, with recordings made available to the public as part of the project (some activities may be exempt from this due to confidentiality or sensitivity of subjects).

At this time, some of the groups we are most interested in hearing from include:

          • Workers in the health care industry, including home health care as well as institutions.

          • First responders, especially those who deal with risk of infection from COVID-19.

          • Vulnerable populations such as the elderly and those with chronic health problems.

          • Eldercare workers and others who wish to coordinate workshops with residents.

          • Teachers and others who are learning new approaches to education.

          • Workers in hospitality and food service industries who may be recently unemployed.

          • Those who work with the homeless and other marginalized groups.

          • Recovering COVID-19 patients, their families, or family members of victims.

If you have an interest in organizing a group, please contact us using the information below. Whether you have a group already formed, or just an idea for one, we would be happy to discuss possibilities with you.

Call for Instructors

We are seeking short-term instructors to lead our workshops. Instructors should be experienced in their art form, and able to instruct and mentor 10-15 students in an online format, most likely using Zoom. The ideal instructor would understand the process of creation within their medium, and be able to help a wide range of students to express their feelings and concerns through this medium. An understanding of the therapeutic value of the arts would be helpful, although this can be based on experience and intuition as much as formal training.

The exact structure of individual workshops will be determined by project organizers in collaboration with instructors. They would typically involve several online meetings, taking students from initial ideas to a final project. As projects will eventually be shared with the public, they should meet student and instructor standards.

We would consider many possible subjects for workshops. These could include:

• Poetry, creative nonfiction, or short story writing.               • Acting, dance and other performance arts.

• Songwriting, storytelling and spoken word.                          • Playwriting or screenwriting.

• Life history interviewing and autobiography.                       • Painting, drawing and other visual arts.

Courses should be recorded, and instructors and students will need to sign release forms that permit the University of Maine to use select portions of videos. Instructors should be comfortable on camera and with their own voice, and be able to help students become comfortable with this process as well.

Instructors will be contracted through the Division of Lifelong Learning at the University of Maine. Payment for a workshop would be between $500 and $1,000, depending on the number of sessions, number of students and other factors. Normal state and federal withholdings would apply. Payment of instructors must still go through a formal approval process, which could be delayed because of current University of Maine hiring policies affected by COVID-19.

If you are a potential instructor with artistic skills and teaching experience, and have an idea for a workshop or a group you would like to work with, please contact us. We would be happy to discuss your ideas.

Contact Information

The Jack Pine Project is coordinated by Kreg Ettenger, Director of the Maine Folklife Center. You can reach him by email at, or by phone at 207-581-1840. You can also learn more by contacting the UMaine Hutchinson Center in Belfast, by phone at 207-338-8000 or by email at


Updated May 28, 2020 - 2:10 p.m. 
Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness Application recently released by the SBA: SBA Loan Forgiveness Application (PPP). This is the form for businesses that received PPP funds to fill out to pursue loan forgiveness; it includes guidance about eligible costs and timeframes.

Information Sessions with the Labor Department Regarding Expanded Unemployment Assistance (inc. Self-employed)

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is a new federal program that the Maine DOL is implementing that provides unemployment coverage for the self-employed and others not normally covered by state unemployment insurance. 

The Department will begin accepting applications for this new unemployment program at 8 a.m. Friday, May 1.  

DOL has scheduled four (4) ZOOM presentations over the next two days about the PUA program covering:

  •  Introduction to PUA
  •  Who is covered by PUA
  •  How is the Department reaching claimants
  •  The phases (1 and 2) of PUA implementation
  •  Questions & Answers

The sessions are listed HERE and each has a ZOOM link so that you can pick the session and use that link in order to attend. The PowerPoint and other information can be found here:



A Message from the Maine Arts Commission 

April 24, 2020

The Maine Arts Commission has been preparing for the impact of the COVID-19 crisis since early March. Already, $5.2 million has been reported in economic loss across Maine’s creative nonprofit sector. With the recent announcement of the $75 million dollars appropriated to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Arts Commission staff have been busy re-aligning their existing grant programs to provide relief to the arts sector as efficiently as possible. The Maine Arts Commission will receive $426,800 from the NEA through the CARES Act.

Here’s what you need to know:

CARES Act relief funds supports salaries, fees, and administration costs to the nonprofit arts sector in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Where is that money going?

- On March 15, the Maine Arts Commission promoted its Fiscal Year 21 Organizational Development Grant as funding support for organizations adjusting to the COVID-19 crisis. The grant deadline was also extended by one week to give applicants enough time to restructure their applications. This grant is the Arts Commission’s primary relief for arts organizations. The grant will be “fast-tracked” for early approval in May in order to get funds to the sector as quickly as possible. These grants will be in the amount of up to $5,000 each.

 - Additionally, arts organizations that applied for and received a grant in the previous cycle (Fiscal Year 2020), will now be eligible to apply for funding for the maximum amount that was requested in their application. For example, if “Main Street Arts” applied for $5,000 through an organizational project grant and was awarded $3,000, Main Street Arts would now be eligible to request the remaining $2,000 for economic relief. Additionally, if “Arts & Company” applied for only $3,000 through an organizational project grant and was awarded $2,000, Arts & Company would now be eligible to request the remaining $1,000 for economic relief.

-Bicentennial Grant recipients are not included in this program and are not eligible for CARES Act funding.

- An additional $50,000 will be set aside for Maine Arts Commission salaries and wages, fringe benefits, and operating expenses to administer the CARES Act funds as permitted by the NEA.

 *The Maine Arts Commission expects to process the first round of CARES Act funds for FY20 grantees by mid-May 2020.  

Will there be future relief packages?

The quicker the arts and culture sector distributes CARES Act funds, the better positioned it will be to receive future allocations for economic relief. In anticipation of this, the Maine Arts Commission’s priority for the next few months will be laying the groundwork for a new grant program in order to administer future arts relief packages. The Arts Commission will keep the field updated with any news of additional relief funding should it become available.

What about Maine artists?

There are more than 22,000 artists and creative workers living in Maine who contribute to the state’s economy, and who, along with creative organizations, make up 2.5 percent of the state’s GDP. The Maine Arts Commission understands many artists have been hit hard by the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis. We continue to encourage artists to apply for the Maine Artist Relief Fund through ArtsEngageME – the Arts Commission’s 501c3 support organization.  ArtsEngageME recently announced grants totaling $24,000 that have already been disbursed to Maine artists. In addition, the New England Foundation for the Arts has awarded ArtsEngageME $47,000 to enable further support to Maine artists in the coming weeks.  

Artists can continue to apply to the Maine Artists Relief Fund by creating an account (if you do not already have one) in the Maine Arts Commission Grants Management System.

ArtsEngageME is also accepting donations. Donations to the Maine Artist Relief Fund are made through ArtEngageME's Annual Fund.

For the most up to date news, please continue to visit the Arts Resources Page at

For general questions please contact  Julie Richard, Executive Director, or 207/287-2710 or Kerstin Gilg, Director of Grants and Accessibility, at or 207/ 287-6719.  


Updated April 15, 2020 -1:29 p.m. 

IRS Extends May 15th 990 Filing Deadline

As reported in The Nonprofit Times, many tax-exempt organizations will have an extra two months to file their federal Form 990 because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had already extended the April 15 deadline for individual taxpayers and last week extended their ruling to cover individuals, trusts, estates corporations and others.

Organizations are required to file the Form 990 no later than 4½ months after the end of their fiscal year. For nonprofits that operate on a fiscal year ending December 31, that would normally mean filing their Form 990 by May 15 unless they file for an extension. Now, nonprofits will have until July 15 to file their 990 without having to file any extension.Read the IRS press release.


New National Artist/Creative Worker Relief Fund and Survey - American for the Arts 

Americans for the Arts is deeply committed to supporting the arts across America. Today, a consortium of funders announced the creation of the Artist Relief Fund, a $10 million national emergency relief fund for artists and creative workers that will provide $5,000 no-strings-attached grants. It is intended for anyone who earns income from their creative or artistic practice and who has also been affected by COVID-19.

Americans for the Arts is proud to have been brought on as the research partner in that effort, and in that role was asked to develop and deploy the COVID-19 Impact Survey for Artists and Creative Workers, which is designed to capture financial and creative impact of COVID-19 on creative workers, highlight the resiliency and generosity of the creative sector, and make sure that the 5 million creative workers in the U.S. are supported and heard during this ongoing crisis and the eventual recovery. This new survey is a counterpart to our ongoing Economic Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Arts and Cultural Organizations survey, which over 11,000 organizations have completed to date.

 In addition to ensuring creative workers can sustain their practice, our goal in collecting this data is to provide research that will support our Federal policy efforts in the next phase of stimulus and COVID-19 recovery; policies that are specific to individual creative workers.


National Endowment for the Arts Announces CARES Act Funding to Support Arts Jobs and Help Sustain Arts Organizations

Washington, DC— The National Endowment for the Arts announced today its guidelines to swiftly distribute funding to nonprofit arts organizations from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to preserve jobs and help support organizations forced to close operations due to the spread of COVID-19.

With the $75 million appropriated to the National Endowment for the Arts through the CARES Act, the Arts Endowment will award 40 percent of the funds directly to state and regional arts agencies by April 30th to distribute through their funding programs. Sixty percent of the funds are designated for direct grants to nonprofit arts organizations all across the United States and will be announced by June 30th.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is thankful to the President and members of Congress for recognizing the cultural and economic contribution to America made by the 5,100,000 men and women employed in the arts sector across the United States. In an effort to provide funding to save as many jobs as possible, as quickly as possible, these time frames are faster than the schedule used in 2009 to distribute relief funds.  I am proud of the professionalism and organizational excellence demonstrated by our tireless staff and look forward to doing all that we can to help save jobs in the arts sector and keep the doors open to the thousands of organizations that add value to America’s economy and the creative life of our communities,” said Mary Anne Carter, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.  

More than 3,700 organizations that have received National Endowment for the Arts awards in the past four years are eligible to apply for a direct grant. Funds can be used for staff salary support, fees for artists or contractual personnel, and facilities costs. The direct grants will not require a cost share or match and will be for a fixed amount of $50,000. Designated local arts agencies eligible to subgrant may request $100,000 or $250,000 for subgranting programs. The deadline to apply is April 22, 2020 with the earliest announcement of grant award or rejection by June, 30. Please see the Arts Endowment’s website for program description, eligibility requirements, application review, and FAQs.

As with all of the Arts Endowment’s direct grants, applications will be reviewed by panels convened by the Arts Endowment and judged on artistic excellence and merit, which includes the potential to have a significant and immediate impact on the arts workforce and the organization’s ability to carry out an award.

Media should direct any questions and/or requests for interviews to

More information on the National Endowment for the Arts’ COVID-19 response can be found at, including FAQs for applicants and grantees and links to government resources and nationwide resources for artists and arts organizations. In addition, Chairman Carter has started a weekly podcast, Chairman’s Corner, which is available to stream and download at



Updated March 27, 2020 - 3:34 p.m.  

SBA Disaster Loans and Emergency Grants, Artist’s Edition: What You Need to Know

Do artists qualify for the SBA disaster loan and $10,000 Emergency Grant? More importantly, should artists apply? The short answer is YES, and here’s some stuff you should know. Note: this is based on research on 3/27/2020. Check the and the CARES Act for the most up-to-date information.

Here’s what you need to know about the DISASTER LOAN:

  1. The Small Business Administration Disaster Loan is a 3.75% loan for businesses, nonprofits, renters, and homeowners impacted by COVID-19 qualify to apply. The loan interest rate is $2.75% for nonprofits.
  2. You may qualify for loan forgiveness for expenses incurred in the first 8 weeks of receiving the loan if you use the funds for payroll, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities. Loan forgiveness means you don’t have to pay it back, but it should not be confused with a grant.
  3. That means any part of the SBA loan not used for payroll, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities does not qualify for loan forgiveness. Read a summary about the terms here.

Here’s what you need to know about the EMERGENCY GRANT:

  1. I searched for a while, and the Emergency Grant isn’t mentioned anywhere on BUT, it is in the 880-page CARES Act that Congress voted on and Trump signed on Friday, March 27th.
  2. Pages 66-69 of the CARES Act outline the eligibility requirements for up to a $10,000 Emergency EIDL Grant. Businesses, nonprofits, and sole proprietorships with 0 to 500 employees qualify for the emergency grant of up to $10,000 per applicant. The total Emergency fund is $10 billion and SBA must distribute these emergency grants within 3 days of receiving an application. In other words, if you’re an artist with an LLC or sole proprietorship, you qualify. The grants will be awarded within 3 days of your application, so the sooner you apply, the better.
  3. In order to potentially qualify for the grant, you need to apply for the SBA Loan. There is not a separate process for applying for the grant, and there is no guarantee that by applying for the loan you will receive the emergency grant. But here’s the cool thing: even if you don’t get the loan, you could still get the grant.
  4. The SBA loan application requires you to submit several documents, and the Business Loan application has a checklist on page 3 of what you need. Note that the SBA’s link for IRS Form 4056-T is broken, so get it directly from The information the SBA asking for on each form is pretty basic, but the forms can get confusing quickly. Use your last tax return for reference when filling out the forms. The better records you have of your business expenses and debts, the easier this will be.

What if you get the loan but not the grant? Most independent artists are going to be either sole proprietors or the owners of LLCs. So here’s the catch for sole proprietors and LLCs when using the SBA Disaster Loan:

  1. Again, the Disaster Loan can be used for payroll, interest payments on mortgages, rent, and utilities.
  2. As a sole proprietor or the owner of an LLC, you are not considered an employee. You are self-employed and therefore not on payroll. If you have an LLC, you are classified as the owner, not an employee, which means you get paid by making draws out of the company’s profits, not on salary.
  3. This means that most artists will not be able to get loan forgiveness if they pay themselves using the loan, even if it matches what they pay themselves normally. They only qualify for loan forgiveness for interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities.
  4. Getting help with your interest payments on mortgages, rent, and utilities is great, even if you can’t pay yourself. However, this isn’t the same as a grant. Loan forgiveness only applies to expenses over the first 8-week period from when you receive the loan. That means in order to get $10,000 of loan forgiveness, you need to be spending $5,000 a month on mortgage interest, rent, and utilities, which most artists are not. Realistically for most artists (e.g. freelancing visual artists, musicians, performers), this will be a $2,500-$5,000 loan forgiveness and a $5,000-$7,500 loan you have to pay back depending on how high your forgivable expenses are.

Final Assessment: Should Artists Apply?

Yes. There’s no guarantee you’ll get the Emergency Grant, but the only way you find out is by applying for the loan. If you get the loan, treat it like you would a credit card. This is a 3.75% loan, which is very low, and you have the rest of the year to pay it off. If you don’t pay it off right away then it carries a maximum 4% interest rate beyond this year. The better job you’ve done of keeping track of your expenses, the less stressful this application will be.

If you get the loan, be cognizant that if you’re a sole proprietor or you own an LLC you can’t pay yourself with this money, so be mindful of that when using the funds. Treat it like a credit card that earns you points and be prepared to pay some or most of it back.

Cited Sources:


Updated March 27, 2020 - 9:28 a.m.  


Small Business Administration (SBA) loans are the first line of defense in helping cultural organizations (and really all businesses) survive COVID-19. The federal government has put together $350 billion to keep Americans employed and businesses alive during this pandemic.

While our cultural impact survey indicates that our members prefer grants over loans, we recommend you start with SBA loans first and put in an application if your organization is danger of cutting staff or salaries.

  1. Size of loans: Up to $10 million per loan is available. Amount is likely to be based on average monthly payroll cost over the past year multiplied by 2.5.
  2. Who can apply: businesses below 500 employees including nonprofits, sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals (like individual artists)
  3. Permitted uses: cover payroll costs, utilities, mortgage/rent, and other operations
  4. Forgiveness: The principal (so minus interest) on the loans can be forgiven if used for the permitted purposes. See below for formulas related to forgiveness.
  5. Rates: 3.75% for most; 2.75% for nonprofits
  6. Which types of loan are forgivable: we believe forgivability applies to both 7(a) and disaster loans. Stay tuned.
  7. When to apply: Approval takes 3-5 weeks. If you are desperately short on cash now put in an application ASAP. If you can wait until next week when UCA has more information, then wait. Various UT cities and counties have quick funding (most in the form of SBA loans) available now.

Information and application>>

Forgiveness: Principal of loan is forgivable based on the two calculations below (subject to change):

The idea is to help small businesses retain workers while the economy largely shuts down to fight the spread of the COVID-19 disease. That would allow companies to reopen quickly once the contagion countermeasures are lifted, while keeping employees financially stable. If a firm cuts workers or reduces their pay, the amount forgivable would be reduced proportionately.

  1. Employee Count Ratio.  Forgivable amount = (Principal) x (Average employees per month during the eight weeks following the loan date) / [(Average employees per month from Feb. 15, 2019 to June 30, 2019) OR (Average employees per month from Jan. 1, 2020 to Feb. 29, 2020)]
    1. Intent of legislation is to preserve jobs so loan will only be forgiven if company is keeping employees.
    2. Denominator is at election of recipient so they can choose whichever average results in a higher ratio.
  1. Salary Reduction. Forgivable amount decrease = (Amount salaries for employees earning less than $100K is reduced during the eight-week period after the loan) – (25% of those employees’ salaries during the prior quarter). 
    1. In sum, salary reductions in excess of 25% will decrease the forgivable amount.
    2. Closing the loophole of companies keeping headcount high but cutting salaries.

Forgiven debt is usually treated as income for tax purposes, but that would likely not apply to loans under this program, thereby keeping participating companies from being saddled with a larger tax bill next year.

Required Paperwork

The CARE Act would waive most of the SBA’s usual paperwork requirements and other prerequisites to speed the money into entrepreneurs’ hands. Borrowers making a good-faith statement are presumed eligible for the loans, which are limited to companies that have seen their business dry up or stop completely due to COVID-19.

Most of the paperwork would come at the end: Companies would need to prove they actually needed the loans and used them as intended when they apply for debt forgiveness.


Updated March 26, 2020 - 11:00 a.m.  

Senate Stimulus Package Includes Emergency Relief for Nonprofit Cultural Organizations

The United States Senate is set to vote on an unprecedented $2 trillion stimulus package tonight in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. Once it passes the Senate, the House will need at least 24 hours to review the bill, but the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is indicating that she's optimistic that the bill will pass in the House as well.  This bill has a strong focus on workers, paid sick leave, and support for impacted industries, including the arts and humanities. 

Thank you for responding to our Action Alerts over the last week and for sending thousands of messages to Congress with stories of how the arts have been impacted in your communities. Your voices were heard!  Here are some top line items that will support the nonprofit arts and humanities industry that were included in the Senate Stimulus bill. Look for a more detailed legislative update from Americans for the Arts and the Arts Action Fund jointly tomorrow.

  • $75 million for the National Endowment for the Arts to quickly award "general operating grants with no match requirements" to nonprofit and governmental arts agencies across the country, with 40% going to state arts agencies for regranting in their states.
  • $75 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities (similar directives as NEA).
  • $75 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
  • $50 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
  • $25 million for the Kennedy Center, which President Trump did a good job of defending during his nightly press conference tonight.

Remember, nothing is final until the same version of the bill passes in both chambers and is signed into law by the President, which is likely to happen by the end of this week.  There are many more grant and loan opportunities for nonprofits and individual artists in different parts of the bill such as the Small Business Administration, Community Development Block Grants, and the Economic Development Administration.  More details to come soon. 


Updated March 23, 2020 - 5:33 p.m.  

COVID-19 Arts Federal Policy Update - Americans for the Arts 

Negotiations are ongoing in the Senate on what is being called "Phase Three" of the COVID-19 response relief package. As you unfortunately know, the coronavirus has already had a devastating economic impact on America’s nonprofit arts sector—financial losses to date are estimated to be $3.6 billion.

The U.S. Senate legislation under consideration today has several items we've been asking for—your advocacy has been working! For example, there is some funding for the NEA, but it's not enough. Self-employed artists, creative workers, and nonprofits appear to be included in the Paycheck Protection and Small Business Administration disaster loan provisions, but we need to ensure they are included in the final bill version. More advocacy is needed.    

In order to support the sector at this vital time, request that your members of Congress include the following in the current legislative package currently being negotiated:

  • Support $4 billion in COVID-19 relief funding to be administered by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services—House Arts Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and House STEAM Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) led a letter to House Leadership with this ask, Senate Cultural Caucus Co-Chair Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) did the same in the Senate. Waive matching requirements and general operating support reprogramming for FY2020 grantees, as well as for COVID-19-specific grantmaking;
  • Encourage charitable giving by increasing the allowable amount of the proposed $300 above-the-line tax deduction available to taxpayers that do not itemize their returns, and removing AGI limits on allowed deductions for charitable giving;
  • Ensure that proposed forgivable SBA disaster relief loans support all arts and culture workers by: specifying that access to forgivable loans is available for self-employed workers, increasing the employer eligibility threshold by applying the 500 employee cap to fulltime employees, and eliminating the employer size cap for nonprofit organizations;
  • Support pandemic unemployment benefits for workers ineligible for state unemployment benefits, which will provide essential support for self-employed workers in the arts and culture sector; and 
  • Ensure arts eligibility for additional forms of disaster relief, such as Community Development Block Grants, education and lifelong learning programs, and health and wellness initiatives. 

In a national survey by Americans for the Arts, 91% of responding arts organizations indicated that they have cancelled one or more events. Many arts organizations have closed their doors for months to come. These estimates are based on more than 5,000 respondents to an Americans for the Arts nationwide COVID-19 impact survey, and then further extrapolation of those data nationally using IRS data about nonprofit arts and cultural organizations. The most recent figures show economic losses of $3.6 billion to date, up from $3.2 billion last week. The survey is ongoing, and these figures will be updated regularly. Given that losses documented in the survey have occurred only in the last two months, Americans for the Arts anticipates additional billions in potential revenue losses for the nonprofit arts and culture field.

Join us in calling on Congress NOW to include the aforementioned items in the final package for COVID-19 relief.

Maine Arts Commission Grant Deadlines Extended to April 2020

The Maine Arts Commission is working with local, state, and federal officials in the effort to navigate the COVID-19 health emergency. Due to the uncertainty of the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, we are extending the upcoming grant deadlines by one into April of 2020. The new dates have been updated in the graphic below: 

We are working on ways to assist you sooner rather than later.  In the meantime we encourage you to stay up to date with our latest news and developments through our website's Arts Resources Page, our e-newsletter, and social media posts.  If you are not currently a subscriber to our e-newsletter and email alerts, you can sign up here. 


Updated March 18, 2020 -3:35 p.m.  


Like all of you, the leadership of the Maine Arts Commission has been closely monitoring the COVID-19 public health situation. We have been in touch with many of our partnership organizations and constituents, and we have also consulted with the national network of arts agencies. In recent days we have been actively working with policy makers. It is our priority to keep you notified of the latest developments of how Maine’s arts and culture sector will be affected.

There are several issues around the virus that are circulating nationally among arts advocacy organizations and policy makers. One is gathering data from the arts field to determine the economic impact on the arts and culture communities. Another is making sure our sector is at the table when stimulus packages are rolled out. This will likely have a major impact on Maine.

For the many fine arts venues and establishments across the state, in the short term, we encourage ticket holders to please consider donating the cost of the ticket to an organization that has had to cancel a performance or temporarily shut their doors. This will help offset the inevitable losses that many Mainers will endure. For the individual artist, it is our hope that during these moments of uncertainty that one might choose to embrace that creative spark and continue to be inspired to make masterpieces and award-winning work.  

For more information, there are additional resources that are provided to us through Americans for the Arts. There is also an online Response and Resource Center which will be updated on a daily basis. In response to numerous inquiries, AFTA has launched a brief survey to gather data and stories from around the country on the economic impact on the national arts and culture industry. Your involvement will provide a strong foundation as we work to promote the inclusion of the arts and culture sector in stimulus package options and other Federal relief measures.  

The Maine Arts Commission is here to support all who may be affected in the coming weeks. Please reach out with any questions, concerns, and suggestions. We are here for you. Be well and keep safe.


All of Us at the Maine Arts Commission 


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Julie Richard

193 State Street
SHS 25
Augusta  ME  04333