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Up to 25 grants available to traditional handcrafts non-profits in Maine

The grants range from $1,000 to $10,000 for organizations that promote Maine traditional handcrafts.

MAINE, Maine — The Maine Community Foundation is looking for applications for its yearly Traditional Handcrafts Fund. The goal of the Maine Community Foundation is to improve the quality of life for all Maine people.  

The fund supports non-profits and municipal organizations that promote Maine traditional handcrafts. New this year, due to the pandemic, the fund will offer general operating support grants only to organizations whose sole mission centers on Maine traditional handcrafts. 

The awarded grants go from $1,000 to $10,000 for specific work or projects that will begin after Sept. 1 of this year.

The grant application deadline is June 1, 2021. 

Last year, the Belvedere Traditional Handcrafts Fund awarded $112,807 to 13 organizations, including:

  • Cultural Resources Inc. in Rockport, to support the Wabanaki Arts Mentorship Program, an intergenerational teaching program of traditional crafts and cultural knowledge.
  • Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts in Newcastle, to equip a new studio and studio annex buildings with tools and materials that support year-round ceramics arts programming.
  • Wendell Gilley Museum of Bird Carving in Southwest Harbor, to expand the museum's virtual programming and to teach the craft of bird carving to a wider audience by providing bird carving kits for families to use at home.
  • Hudson Museum at the University of Maine in Orono to commission Wabanaki baskets to add to their collection (2019 grant) and a separate grant in 2020 to integrate Wabanaki traditional art forms from the Hudson Museum, for remote learning into K-12 curriculum and resources for educators in Maine and beyond.
  • American Furniture Masters Institute, to expand educational programs at the Maine State Prison in Warren so residents obtain the skills and knowledge to sell work through the Maine Crafts Association.

The Wendell Gilley Museum opens mid-May through late October by reservation, with outdoor carving and art classes all summer and fall. The Museum has now expanded and is hosting online classes. It's main carver, Steven Valleau works for the museum full-time to make sure visitors have hands-on experience if they want to try wood-carving.

"The grant was actually life-saving for us, because we were able to move all of our carving and art programs outside and we were able to get a tent and we did that all summer long through October," said Sean Charette, the director of the Wendell Gilley Museum. "For 40 years since the museum opened, we've had a full-time carver on staff here."

The Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts in Newcastle was founded in 1986 to help improve the growth of ceramic artists at all career stages via residencies, workshops, educational programs, and public events. In the summer and fall, small groups of artists from across the US and abroad come to live and work on the 54-acre campus for two to four-week sessions. 

"Artists come and stay with us for two weeks, three weeks, and sometimes six weeks, and they are able to step away from their lives and all of their other responsibilities and come to Maine and have this amazing experience!" said Fran Rudoff, the executive director at the Watershed.

The Watershed is re-opening this summer, with a new studio built during the pandemic, but with smaller numbers, reduced revenue, and higher costs due to COVID-19 protections.

Another example of a non-profit that has benefitted from the grants is the Hudson Museum at the University of Maine in Orono. The museum received a grant in 2019, to purchase four works from Wabanaki artists to help support their art and add recent works of art to the Wabanaki exhibition.

They also received another grant in 2020 that supports the creation of educational resources to support the teaching of Maine Indian History and Culture at the K-12 level.  The teacher resource can be found here. 

The American Furniture Masters Institute used its grant funds to support the furniture-making program at the Maine State Prison in Warren. It has been helping inmates learn how to create furniture pieces for 8 years and the grant has helped purchase some newer tools that have enabled them to do cleaner and better work.

"It provides the inmates with higher-level skills, which they can take to the outside world when they get out, and find a good job!" said Howard Hatch, the lead instructor for the Maine prison outreach program.

To learn more about the online application, eligibility criteria, other guidelines for the Belvedere Traditional Handcraft Fund, click here.  

Funding announcements will be made in August.

For more information, contact Senior Program Officer Leslie Goode at (207) 412-2002 or lgoode@mainecf.org.  

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