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.
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 and cultural production, and Maine was 24th among all states in value added growth. In comparison to Maine’s one-billion-dollar lobster industry, the arts make headlines as a huge industry sector in our state. Likewise, in the nonprofit sector alone, the 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 report. 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.
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 Creative Portland, Indigo Arts Alliance, Running with Scissors, Space, Damnationland/StoryBoard) to select applicants.
The application, which will provide specific requirements for eligibility, is targeted for online access on March 30th. 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.