At its inception in 1976, the Maine Humanities Council was solely a granting organization, redistributing funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities to nonprofits statewide. Over the past 30 years, the Council has awarded more than $4,000,000 in grants to Maine communities. Today, the Council gives close to 100 grants each year, in amounts ranging from $500 to $5,000 but averaging around $1,000. In 2005 the Council obtained matching funds from three sources—the Betterment Fund, the Maine Arts Commission, and the Kennebec-Chaudière Heritage Commission—to provide leverage and additional funds for specific grant projects.
For an example of the Council’s grants at work, consider this past year’s collaboration with the Kennebec-Chaudière International Corridor. Designated in 1997 in recognition of its significance as a trade and transportation route from prehistory to the present, the Corridor extends from Popham to Jackman, then on to Québec City. While the two regions share considerable culture and heritage, the Corridor marks the first large-scale collaboration between Maine and Québec on a cultural tourism issue.
Thanks to the dedication of a number of volunteers, and with the help of a Council grant, the Maine portion of the Corridor is now evolving from a yellow line on a map into a three-dimensional cultural asset that will be interpreted in part through a CD audio tour and guide. The CD will provide context for travelers and will be available at visitor centers. It will offer first-person accounts of the Corridor’s history, natural history, and folkways.
In addition, with the support of matching funds from the Betterment Fund and the Kennebec Chaudière Commission, the Council established a joint small grants program to develop cultural resources along the route. In Bingham, for example, the program is supporting the development of an archive and website to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Wyman Dam, a pivotal regional landmark that has changed both the river and its economics. Marilyn Gondek of the Old Canada Road Historical Society remarked, “This grant is making a significant difference in our ability to reach a broader audience within Maine and beyond. There is strong local interest, evidenced by the fact that turnout for our project’s first event was double that of past events. And development of the Wyman Dam Construction Archive on our Web site has attracted comments and donations of material from as far away as California.”
All of these projects (and all of the Council’s other grants) share one hallmark: an emphasis on community input, whether that be Jackman, Portland, or Lubec.
MHC Grant Sampler
What follows is a small sample of the more than 100 grants awarded to Maine organizations by the Council in 2005, arranged by town. (Visit the MHC web site at www.mainehumanities.org for a complete list.) Many of these projects were made possible in part by the Council’s funding partners.
Projects are marked as follows:
funded by the Council and the Maine Arts Commission through a joint Arts and Humanities grant program,
funded jointly by the Council and the Kennebec-Chaudière Heritage Commission, and
rural project funded with the support of the Betterment Fund.
The Council is grateful for the support of these funding partners, which allows us to extend our resources into more Maine communities.
Civil Rights Celebration
$750: The Martin Luther King Day program at the school included a full schedule of events, highligted by workshops with three scholars who helped students explore issues related to civil rights.
Conners Emerson School
Belfast Poetry Festival
$750: The first annual Belfast Poetry Festival ran for three days in October and provided a venue for poets of all ages, backgrounds, and levels of experience.
Wyman Dam 75th Anniversary Project
$1,000: Production of an online and physical archive to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the construction of the Wyman Dam, which dramatically altered the landscape of the Upper Kennebec Valley.
Old Canada Road Historical Society
Sundays in the Park with Nellie
$500: Period maps, photos, and ephemera were used to produce a 30-minute DVD tour of Merrymeeting Park, a trolley amusement park that operated in Brunswick between 1898 and 1908.
Pejepscot Historical Society
2nd Annual Native American Recognition Ceremony
$500: A cultural event and public seminar honoring the local Wawenoc tribe and others of the region who traditionally gathered along the mid-coast for feasting and information exchange.
Pemaquid Watershed Association
Reading Revolutions: Great Minds, Great Thoughts
$2,000: An exhibit of 48 documents from the Remnant Trust collection, including a 14th century copy of the Magna Carta and a first edition of Goethe’s Faust. Visitors could touch documents and participate in a lecture series at the UMF campus.
University of Maine at Farmington
Freeport Historical Society – 30th Anniversary Celebration
$1,000: An anniversary celebration that included an exhibit, two workshops, an open house at Pettengill Farm, and an exhibit catalog featuring an essay by Earle Shettleworth, Jr. (See photographs, right.)
Freeport Historical Society
Bernd Heinrich: The Naturalist As Artist
$1,500: An exhibit on the life and career of renowned author, illustrator, and field biologist Bernd Heinrich, with related programs for the public.
L.C. Bates Museum (Good Will Home Association)
Bringing Words to Life
$500: Maine children’s author Lynn Plourde visited all SAD #55 elementary schools in January 2005 and presented interactive readings and dramatizations of some of her picture books.
Kennebec-Chaudière Audio Tour
$4,900: Production of a 60-minute CD audio tour utilizing personal and community narratives, soundscapes, and audio art to reflect the region’s unique landscape and cultural heritage.
Kennebec-Chaudière International Corridor
Anne Frank in the World
$500: A collaboration among the Franco-American Heritage Center, Lewiston Middle School, and the Jewish Community Alliance to present a bilingual exhibit about Anne Frank’s diary and related writing.
Franco-American Heritage Center
Signs of the Times: Collaborative Programming for Deaf and Hearing Audiences in Western Maine
$750: A program offering American Sign Language classes to the public and a storytelling festival in both ASL & English.
Charlotte Hobbs Memorial Library
Historical Tours of Lubec and Campobello
$930: A project to develop interpretive tours of Lubec and Campobello Island.
Association to Promote & Protect the Lubec Environment
50-Mile Health Hike
$1,000: Fourth grade students from Lyman Elementary School and their families trained for and participated in a 5-day, 50-mile hike on the Eastern Trail through New Hampshire and Maine, visiting historical sites along the way.
Lyman Elementary School (MSAD #57)
A Cultural Stewardship Workshop for Museums and Cultural Groups
$500: This day-long workshop offered practical tools to the cultural stewards, primarily volunteers, who maintain the thirteen museums and historical societies in the Saint John Valley.
Maine Acadian Heritage Council
From Shakespeare to Our Original Musical, “Islands”: 11 Years of Drama on North Haven
$1,500: An exhibit featuring photographs, posters, video and audio recordings and narratives that celebrate the performing arts on the island of North Haven over the last eleven years.
North Haven Arts & Enrichment
Look at ME
$5,000: A curriculum program with a group of art historians, public school teachers, arts educators, and parents working to encourage reading and arts literacy skills in children K-2.
Portland Museum of Art
Diversity is Strength Masquerade
$1,500: A week of workshops and a citywide parade and pageant involving masks and large puppets created by local artists, community groups, and the Museum of African Culture.
Museum of African Culture
Waymouth 400: History Symposium
$5,000: A history symposium, one of several different projects comprising the celebration of the 400th anniversary of George Waymouth’s exploration of the Maine coast.
Penobscot Marine Museum
One Book: One Community
$1,000: A program in March 2005 which included book discussions, events, and activities for all age groups, centered around the book Ernie’s Ark by Monica Wood.
Norway Memorial Library
Teacher Training for Acadian History and “Evangeline”
$1,000: A project to provide teachers with training and curriculum guides on Acadian history and culture, with special attention to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem “Evangeline.”