Announcing Our 2023 TAN Fund Recipients!

Traditional Arts Network artists & facilitators gather at Mayo Street Arts to share their work, discuss their collective aspirations, and identify ways to support each other through professional development, marketing, and fundraising programs. (Front: Daniel Grudda, Carine Kitenge, Namory Keita, Titi De Baccarat, Kemal Pohan, Tresor Muteba Mukendi; Middle: Ylli Brekofca; Back: Kathleen Mundell, Sylvain Dejoie, Gloire “Bolele” Ilonde, Ian Bannon, Sayon Camara, Lev Camara). May 2023; Photo by Coco McCracken

Mayo Street Arts announces recipients of second annual micro-granting program in support of traditional arts in Maine

PORTLAND, Maine — Thirteen traditional artists and ensembles who have arrived in Maine bearing cultural and artistic heritage from their countries of origin have received financial support this summer thanks to a new micro-granting program.

In its second year, the Traditional Arts Network (TAN) Fund has awarded small grants up to $1,000 to New Mainer artists to overcome short-term financial hurdles and/or lay the foundation for long-term goals. The application process was designed to provide artists with a low-barrier, first time experience with grant applications.

The funding will support a range of activities. This year’s recipients of the TAN Fund are:

  • Baba Ly — Fulani acoustic guitar player & storyteller; will purchase a professional sound system. 
  • Batimbo United — Burundian drumming & dance ensemble; creating a pathway for the first female trainer in the group.
  • Carine Kitenge Bolingo — Congolese hair stylist; will purchase wigs and supplies to teach children so they can serve their families and explore a possible career.
  • Clarisse Karasira — Rwandan traditional signer, songwriter, & dancer; hiring fellow Rwandan musicians for her “BAKUNDWA” album release concert. 
  • Fanfare Kimbanguiste (FAKI) — Congolese church band; will purchase additional instruments & replace faulty instruments.
  • Gloire “Bolele” Ilonde —Congolese & Brazilian fusion musician & artist; purchasing supplies to combine their visual art with their original music.
  • Ikirenga Cy’Intore — Rwandese dance & drum group; will use funding to support their upcoming “Tales of Bells and Drums” performance.
  • Namory Keita — Guinean master drummer; will purchase new djembes for his students to grow his teaching career.
  • Sayalí Robles — Taíno indigenous artist with African roots; will create a Bomba dance apprenticeship group and bring Borikén’s (now called Puerto Rico) culture to Maine.
  • Sayon Camara — Guinean musician, drummer, storyteller, & dancer; will perform at schools & public spaces to bring a different cultural experience to the community.
  • Seema Shinde — Bollywood dancer; will renovate dance studio.
  • Tresor Muteba Mukendi — Congolese actor & educator; will use funding for video recording, space rentals, & transportation.
  • Ylli Brekofca — Albanian folk musician; will purchase a professional accordion for performances.

“For me personally, receiving this award has provided an opportunity to do an apprenticeship with someone who has kept this art alive (Bomba) in our community for eight generations. Unfortunately, my teacher lives three hours away and it’s an expense that I could not afford at the time between the travel and cost of classes. The TAN Fund was able to cover those expenses,” TAN Fund awardee Sayalí Robles said.

The TAN Fund Awards were administered by Mayo Street Arts and reviewed by a TAN Fund Committee composed of community-based artists and cultural advocates who are part of the vibrant immigrant communities of Portland and Lewiston/Auburn.

A collaboration between Mayo Street Arts (MSA) and Cultural Resources, the TAN grew out of discussions with local traditional artists interested in networking with other immigrant communities and artists. Traditional arts are passed down generationally—usually within families and communities—and can take many forms including vocal and instrumental music, dance, crafts, culinary and textile arts, and occupational traditions. The network provides support and infrastructure for newcomer artists and cultural organizations from Maine’s Rwandan, Burundi, Congolese, Somali, and Somali Bantu communities, among others. Membership in the TAN is open to anyone who would like to participate.

The TAN Fund is made possible through support from the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.

In addition to the TAN Fund, the network organizes artist gatherings and offers a Traditional Arts Apprenticeship program to support the education of a new generation of traditional artists who will help preserve their communities’ cultural heritages.

To request more information and/or assistance, please email, call Mayo Street Arts at 207-879-4629, or visit the Traditional Arts Network website at




Mayo Street Arts is known for performances of music, theater, puppetry, dance, and visual arts. It is also one of the few venues in Maine with which immigrant artists and neighbors feel a strong connection through events like International Open Mic, coordinated by local singer-songwriter Jenny Van West, which draws multicultural performers from throughout Greater Portland; partnerships with community organizations such as Portland Adult Ed, which offers a Family English Class at MSA for non-English speaking parents in East Bayside; and a no cost arts-based literacy summer program for neighborhood students. Learn more at:

Cultural Resources collaborates with diverse communities in Maine on developing strategies, alliances, and programs that help sustain their traditional culture. A nonprofit, Cultural Resources provides fieldwork documentation and community organizing which results in the development of a range of community driven programs including artists’ gatherings, apprenticeship programs, and exhibitions. Learn more at: