Creative Portland shares some promising news for the Arts Community during COVID-19 pandemic
- March 23, 2020
CREATIVE PORTLAND ME
84 Free Street | Portland, ME 04101 | 207-370-4784
March 23, 2020 - For Immediate Release
Creative Portland shares some promising news
for the Arts Community during COVID-19 pandemic
During this challenging time of the COVID-19 pandemic, our wonderful arts community is hit hard.A grassroots emergency relief effort has been launched to benefit local artists. On the bright side, music and art continues to fill social gaps and bond communities digitally. Despite the fact that Creative
Portland closed our doors to the public on March 13, in compliance with City preventative regulations,
several projects and cultural tourism initiatives will continue, while employing healthy space practices,
to benefit the arts community in the future.
One such project, generated by a recent Maine Arts Commission (MAC) grant award, is the
development of a cultural app, to give locals and tourists increased access to the arts through a
user-friendly mobile device application . In a 2017 Americans for the Arts (AFTA) & U.S. Census
Survey , the City of Portland was a standout in performing arts public attendance, with three out of four
citizens (73.5%) attending at least one concert or show per year, compared with other cities averaging
at 48.5% public attendance. In addition, 84.7% indicated the use of electronic and mobile devices for
sourcing and experiencing art, compared to 73.6% nationwide .
MAINE ARTS COMMISSION 75K GRANT AWARD
After receiving a seed grant from Maine Arts Commission (MAC) in 2016, Creative Portland (CP)
launched a two-year cultural planning process which culminated into “A Living Action Plan,” approved
by the City Council as an adopted City Plan in 2018. One of the strategic priorities identified was to
brand Portland as a creative center and arts destination. This week Maine Arts Commission (MAC)
awarded Creative Portland a 75K matching grant (CCEDII: Cultural Plan Implementation), to be
dispersed in increments over three years, to develop a digital marketing tool, a cultural app,
spearheaded by Creative Portland and developed by Big Room Studios, app developers and virtual
reality experts, in collaboration with artists, City planners and arts community stakeholders as well as
reps from Visit Portland, PPL, Chamber, MECA, Portland Ovations, Space, Mechanics Hall, PMA, OLS
and MAMM. Only one cultural plan implementation grant (CCEDII) was awarded in the State of Maine
this year. The MAC review committee included reps from Maine Community Foundation, Maine
Humanities Council, Maine Development Fund and Maine Office of Tourism. This is the first major MAC
grant awarded to Portland.
In news relating to recent City closures, including music venues, studios and gallery shutdowns, our
strong yet vulnerable arts community has been hit hard.
PORTLAND ARTIST RELIEF FUND
As the City’s official nonprofit arts agency, Creative Portland’s COVID-19 resilience plan is to create
and manage the Portland Artist Relief Fund , an emergency initiative to help our amazing local artists in
the gig economy who have no other funding sources. We are taking the lead to consolidate efforts into
the management of ONE local artist relief fund. As a convener and facilitator, Creative Portland
practices community buy-in and inclusion to assemble volunteer curatorial teams and juries to serve the
community. Many local artists have no savings and no income to buy groceries or prescriptions.
ECONOMIC IMPACT: It is crucial to support the arts community as pillars of our local economy. The
Federal Bureau of Economic Analysis in the MAINE BEA 2015 report indicated 1.5 billion in statewide
arts & cultural production, and Maine was 24th among all states in value added growth. In comparison
to Maine’s 1 billion dollar lobster industry, the arts make headlines as a huge industry sector in our
state. Likewise, in the nonprofit sector alone, t he 5th Arts & Economic Prosperity (AEP5) 2017 report,
commissioned by the nonprofit national organization Americans for the Arts (AFTA), validated the
stimulating cultural life of Portland during more certain times. In the last seven years, the city has grown
significantly with expenditures of $49 million in 2012 jumping to $75 million in the current report.
Forty-six non-profit arts and cultural organizations in Portland responded to the national study in order
to produce Portland’s customized repor t . Portland has become a magnet for anyone seeking a vibrant,
eclectic and creative lifestyle on the coast of Maine. We must protect and sustain our unique and
energetic arts community.
OUR IMMEDIATE GOAL:
Creative Portland’s goal this month is to raise $50,000 to disperse a $500 stipend to 100 artists to help
make ends meet. Although we recognize that we do not have the capacity to help all artists recover, we
will continue to raise funds for as long as this unpredictable pandemic unfolds.
Creative Portland has assembled a review committee of arts community leaders and stakeholders
(representing CP, Indigo Arts Alliance, Running With Scissors, Space, Damnationland/StoryBoard) to
The application, which will provide specific requirements for eligibility, is targeted for online access on
March 30. Funds will be dispersed by Mid-May.
In addition to the creation of the Artists Relief Fund, Creative Portland has launched a crowd-funding
fundraiser on FACEBOOK for smaller donation amounts, allowing everybody in the community who rely
on Portland's vibrant cultural life and who appreciate our City's unique artistic and performing arts talent
to contribute to the bucket. We know there won't be enough to make up for lost income, but we hope
we can at least try to help artists in dire need who are not eligible for unemployment.
Other sources of relief for the arts community, including small business disaster relief loans, as well as
potential state and federal funding will be announced as we learn about them. Creative Portland has
been in touch with Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, Co-Chair of the Congressional Arts Caucus and
with Julie Richard, Maine Arts Commission. They are both currently advocating for a relief package for
the arts community. In addition, the Regional Chamber of Commerce is offering a Pay It Forward
program, the City is delaying loan payments for three months, and the State is offering low interest
(3.25%) FAME disaster relief small business loans . Portland Symphony Orchestra (PSO) is also
currently conducting a relief fundraiser for their musicians.
Surveys have been published on social media by American for the Arts (AFTA), as well as Maine Arts
Commission (MAC), for individuals and artists, to measure economic impact in anticipation of relief fund
At the 2020 Arts & Culture Summit, re-scheduled tentatively for September 22, Creative Portland and
the Summit Steering Committee will work with cultural anchors, MANP , artists, arts community leaders,
creative economy experts, City partners, corporate sponsors, AFTA, New England for the Arts (NEFA),
MAC, and philanthropic foundations to secure strategies for restructuring and rebuilding the arts
As the community practices social distancing and nurtures healthy spaces, the Portland arts
ecosystem, including local talent, arts orgs and cultural anchors, are finding new ways to inspire local
talent engagement and to cultivate arts patronage. Several arts & cultural organizations are staying in
touch with their constituents and fans. Streamlining and digital programming (Mayo Street Arts, Indigo
Arts Alliance, Portland Museum of Art, Telling Room, Portland Public Library, Space, Suntiki, and
others) have already offered digital platforms to tell stories, upload videos, create art, inspire community
bonding and even to provide opportunities for musicians and performing artists to earn income via
direct venmo and other social media fundraising platforms, including local venue live-streaming, art
class listings and flamenco class listings. Music and art continue to fill social gaps, and our creative
community continues to be creative during this challenging and unpredictable time in our history.