We Got It! MSA Receives NEA Grant

Portland, Maine—Mayo Street Arts has been approved for a $10,000 Grants for Arts Projects award to support the creation of a Traditional Arts Network in collaboration with Cultural Resources (ME). Mayo Street Arts’ project is among the more than 1,100 projects across America totaling nearly $27 million that were selected during this second round of Grants for Arts Projects fiscal year 2021 funding. 

“As the country and the arts sector begin to imagine returning to a post-pandemic world, the National Endowment for the Arts is proud to announce funding that will help arts organizations such as Mayo Street Arts re-engage fully with partners and audiences,” said NEA Acting Chairman Ann Eilers. “Although the arts have sustained many during the pandemic, the chance to gather with one another and share arts experiences is its own necessity and pleasure.”

The Traditional Arts Network will be a resource for traditional artists who wish to preserve and share artistic and cultural practices of important newcomer groups in New England. The pilot year of the project will focus on the Rwandan, Congolese, Burundi, Somali, and Somali Bantu communities of Portland and Lewiston. This network will pool resources to offer support in marketing, grant-writing, documentation, video production, and access to rehearsal space.

Ian Bannon, Executive Director of Mayo Street Arts, recognizes the importance of this watershed moment for the organization. “We are thrilled to accept our very first NEA award, especially in support of such an incredible program. The Traditional Arts Network will allow us to support new Mainers, centering them in the process as we develop a network that supports artists seeking to establish themselves here in Maine. It’s a wonderful way to continue to serve the vibrant immigrant community here in our own East Bayside neighborhood and beyond.”


The Traditional Arts Network—anchored by Mayo Street Arts in collaboration with Cultural Resources (ME), a community advisory team—grew out of discussions with locally-based African traditional artists already sharing their work in refugee communities and arts communities around the region. The project will strengthen and build on those relationships to provide networking, marketing, and professional development resources for participating artists.

Cultural Resources’ Director Kathleen Mundell explains that she has, “had the privilege of meeting many immigrant artists who are committed to maintaining their traditional practices as well as sharing their culture with others. By providing much needed support and infrastructure, the Traditional Arts Network will encourage these artists as well as strengthen Mayo Street Arts’ important role as a community cultural anchor.”

For over ten years, Mayo Street Arts has been supporting artists’ gatherings and performances that celebrate cultural heritage. This has included artist gatherings, events like International Open Mic, an International Heritage Music Series, and providing rehearsal space and other support to cultural artists from our neighborhood. Mayo Street Arts has become known as a place to discover talent and is scouted for local and national events including the American Folk Festival.

For more information on Mayo Street Arts, visit mayostreetarts.org.

For more information on the projects included in the Arts Endowment grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news.