Maine Expansion Arts Fund receives $2.5 Million gift

Under the supervision of Penobscot artist Barry Dana, students Maddie Thorndike, left, and Carly McCabe built a wigwam on the west lawn of the Skowhegan History House (SHH) campus last summer. The wigwam construction was the first phase of a two-year exhibit, “Wabanaki Voices: Connecting Past, Present, Future,” organized by the SHH with support from a Maine Expansion Arts Fund grant. (Photo by Susan Cochran)

PENOBSCOT BAY PILOT – MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett have announced a $2.5 million gift to the Maine Community Foundation’s Maine Expansion Arts Fund. The endowed fund supports indigenous, ethnic or rural arts programs or projects in Maine, particularly those that serve areas with limited access to arts events.

“This gift will more than double our annual grant budget,” says MaineCF Senior Program Officer Leslie Goode, in a news release. Goode manages the Maine Expansion Arts Fund.

“In recent years, we have been able to award grants to about half of the deserving proposals, so this will be a boost to those organizations whose good work and ideas would otherwise go unfunded,” she said.

Goode noted that the fund will expand its outreach to organizations led by Black, Indigenous and other people of color.

An advisory committee of Maine artists and others knowledgeable about needs of the state’s arts organizations and programs reviews applications and recommends awards.

 In 2020, the Maine Expansion Arts Fund awarded 13 grants totaling $59,250 to nonprofit organizations across the state. Grants included:

Boys and Girls Clubs of Border Towns (previously known as Penobscot Nation Boys and Girls Club), Presque Isle, to create a safe theater stage for the community to express themselves

Deertrees Theatre, Harrison, to reach out to senior citizens, students and immigrants by providing affordable entertainment and offering informational meetings, classes and volunteering possibilities

Our Town Belfast, to add artwork to the city’s downtown crosswalks, increasing visibility and safety while creating visual interest

University of Maine Foundation, Orono, to create and promote a virtual Wabanaki Winter Market, including educational content and the Wabanaki Artist Directory.

Maine Expansion Arts Fund was launched in 1988 as a collaborative effort of the community foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Lillian Berliawsky Charitable Trust and Maine Arts Commission to strengthen and ensure the future of Maine’s artistic traditions. Additional funding has been provided over the years through the Elizabeth Laughlin Anderson Memorial Fund and the estate of Phyllis and Francis Hamabe.

The next deadline for grant applications is September 15, 2021. Guidelines, application and a list of recent grants are available at For information about applying for a grant, contact Leslie Goode at

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