Archive for the ‘funding source’ Category


Interview with Carol Shutt

February 20, 2018

Maine Community Foundation

Recently Carl Little, communication director, from the Maine Community Foundation sent me a link to this wonderful blog post about art educator Carol Shutt. Many of you know Carol from Haystack and the fall Maine Art Education conference. With Carl’s permission I am reposting it. The original is found at THIS LINK.

Carol Shutt has been the K-8 art teacher at Mount Desert Elementary School in Northeast Harbor for the past 27 years. Over the years Shutt successfully applied for several Vincent Astor Incentive Awards from the Maine Community Foundation. In an interview in her classroom this past December, Shutt talked about her life in art and teaching and benefits of the Astor grants and art education.

How did you end up in Maine?

I was born in California, in a small town outside of Los Angeles. I grew up there and then left for college. I started at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, and ended up at Syracuse University, which is what brought me east. I graduated in fine arts.

When I moved to Maine, I first was a self-employed craft person because after college I had worked for three years in a really nice craft gallery in Philadelphia, the Works Gallery, run by Rick and Ruth Snyderman. When I came to Downeast Maine in the mid-1970s, there were no galleries so I started making quilts, my own designs, many of them using Amish colors. I did that for about 12 years. And then I became a teacher.

Although my father had been a teacher, I didn’t really think that was going to be my path. I took a temporary position in Steuben and started getting my courses together. After one year at Steuben, I got the job here [at Mount Desert Elementary School]. That was 1991. So this is my 27th year. I retire at the end of this school year.

I think being a K-8 art teacher requires a diverse skill set. Kids surprise you, they do amazing things. The art-making can be the pretext for socializing. This is the class where they can talk while they work.

Can you say something about the importance of art education?

We’re lucky this school and this island are very supportive. And you see how much [art] enriches lives. It’s such a holistic way of learning. You’re maybe getting ideas for imagery from an experience or feeling, but you also get stuck and have to problem solve.

Learning to think critically and creatively is so important. You might just brainstorm ideas. Or you might say, like I did, consider putting two dissimilar images together because that could be more exciting than just one that you might expect. So I feel like in all the arts you’re putting ideas together in new ways and going “Hah! I just thought of this.”

Art is a way to reach all students. I do some one-on-one work with students. It’s kind of amazing what you can do through the arts that you can’t do verbally, in other modalities. It’s powerful. Music is powerful. Dance is powerful.

And it’s also so experiential. It’s amazing how if you just jump in and you’re doing it, it’s so authentic.

In your 27 years at Mount Desert Elementary, you received 10 Astor Incentive Awards. What did they allow you to do?

It’s an amazing benefit for the staff at this school, at the Northeast Harbor Library and the Mount Desert Island High School. It’s amazing to me because the whole goal is to encourage teachers to do things that are self-enriching, with the premise that they will make you a better teacher. They really aren’t looking for people to apply and go take a methods course or go to a conference on curriculum. We already do that; it’s part of the professional development of the school.

The first few Astor grants I received in the 1990s allowed me to study with artists I really like. I studied with Rebecca Cuming, a wonderful artist from Southwest Harbor who now lives in Colorado. I also did a weeklong workshop with painter Louise Bourne. I love her work. I drove down to her studio in Sedgwick every day.

You have also traveled on Astor grants.

My first travel grant took me to Tuscany; there was a weeklong painting workshop there, two wonderful painters teaching it. Lunch was brought out to the fields and you painted outside. At night we’d critique. It was an enriching artistic experience. When the workshop was over, I traveled with my daughter Sarah to Florence and then to France. We visited Aix-en-Provence, where Cézanne painted, and then Arles and van Gogh. I did a lot of sketching in Provence.

How do think the grants have affected you as an artist and teacher?

I think the grants have made me more of an artist. And they have changed how I work with kids. Being a teacher but being an artist too, I am setting an example. The Astor grants gave me more of an identity: this is who I am, this is the kind of art I like to make.

So I think learning to be an artist and then just deepening what I know and what I do. Most of the grants that I did were art retreats. I went by myself and had a routine of working early in the morning and then going out and walking all day, having experiences and sitting and sketching and then coming back and working. There’s nobody there, nothing to distract you—it’s an amazing way to travel. That kind of experience deepens the way I do things with the kids.

Your last trip was to Cuba, in 2017. What was it like?

It was fascinating. I came home wanting to go back immediately. The people were so friendly. So much music, so much art. At the very end I discovered that they have an amazing ceramic museum in Havana. I had met a ceramic artist and he had a gallery and he told me about it. There are art schools in every province of Cuba and they’re very hard to get into, but if you do, you are really supported, you get all kinds of resources.

What do you plan to do in retirement?

I have an art practice so I look forward to having more time and traveling. My husband, Rocky Mann, is a clay artist so I’ve been preparing a part of our studio and I’ve been working on things that I might like to do in clay. I look forward to exploring.

Look for more about Carol Shutt in the spring edition of Maine Ties, MaineCF’s newsletter.


Arts Ed Grant Writing Tips

February 7, 2018

South Carolina Arts Commission

Recently my colleague, Ashley Kerns Brown, Arts Education Program Director at the South Carolina Arts Commission reached out to our network of arts ed directors at the state arts agencies across the country and asked a really great question: In all of your years granting money into arts organizations and classrooms, what would be your number 1 tip for a classroom teacher writing a grant? From her knowledge and the responses she received she put together an informative blog post that is filled with great advice. She provided permission to re-post it so I’ve provided part of it below. I’m sure those of you who are writing grants will find it useful and will want to read the entire blog post on the Palmetto State Arts Education which is a network of professionals dedicated to
​advancing learning in and through the arts for all students. Ashley serves on their board.

I was in graduate school when I wrote my first “big grant application” and was so confident I decided to share it with an advisor about 24 hours before it was due. You know, to get a little pat on the back before submitting. So imagine my shock when she called and asked, “Have you submitted this to the University’s Department of Sponsored Research?” Cue record scratch. No. No I had not submitted it to the Department of Sponsored Research. I had no idea what the Department of Sponsored Research was or how it was about to make the next 24 hours one of the biggest learning experiences of my life.

What I soon discovered was that our University’s internal process involved approval by the Department Chair (who was out of town) and the Dean (who was out on medical leave), more paperwork than the actual grant application itself (including a waiver for biomedical test subjects), and an average processing time of 2-3 weeks. The University recommended submitting grant applications to the Department of Sponsored Research a full month before they were due, and I had 24 hours. Over those 24 hours I made a lot of people angry, broke a lot of trust, and learned a lot of lessons.

Now that I am on the other end of grant making I try to share those and other lessons with teachers and arts organizations. I get how frustrating, confusing, and overwhelming grant writing can be and understand the urge to give up. But I also understand that grants can mean a child experiences the magic of theatre for the first time. They can mean an art teacher acquires the supplies to teach print making to a future designer. Grants can help narrow gaps, improve equity, and be the reason a child holds an instrument in their hands and thinks “I can do this.”

Below are my top tips for navigating the world of grants. Grant writing is a skill that improves with practice. So don’t give up – because you never know the impact your next grant can make in your program or classroom. Oh, and that first big grant I wrote? We did end up receiving funding. And I got to see firsthand how this frustrating, overwhelming, and confusing process can lead to life-changing experiences for students.

Before You Begin Writing

  • Give yourself time. Make a calendar of grant-related dates that includes technical assistance sessions, internal due dates, and any follow-up dates (such as when final reports are due).
  • Find the grant to fit the program, not the other way around. You don’t need to do programmatic gymnastics to fit a square peg into a round hole. If a grant isn’t the right fit for your need, it just isn’t the right fit – and that is ok.
  • Have a short- and long-term vision. One of my favorite quotes is “Strategy without vision has no direction. Vision without strategy is a wish.” Know where you want to go but also know how you’re going to get there.
  • Look at previous grant awardees. Many granting organizations post previous award winners on their website. This can show you the kinds of programs or projects that have received funding in the past. 

READ the entire blog post if you found the above helpful!

If you’re interested in applying for funding for the Maine Arts Learning grants please go to

Thank you Ashley for collaborating and your willingness to share the blog post!


Arts Learning Grants

February 6, 2018

Maine Arts Commission grants – March 1 Deadline

The Maine Arts Commission (MAC) awards grants to artists, arts organizations, and arts educators through 12 different programs. The 2018 applications for six of these, with a deadline of March 1, are now open. The Arts Learning grant is especially for schools and educators working with students providing arts education.

Application deadline: March 1, 2018 at 5:00 p.m.

Maximum award: $5,000 (with a required 50% match)

This grant supports schools, arts organizations/institutions and community-based teaching artists as they collaborate on the design and delivery of high-quality arts learning experiences for PK-12 students.

This program supports high-quality visual or performing arts education of PK-12 students and/or educators of this population.

There is a required 50% in-kind or cash match for this grant. (For example, an applicant asking for $5,000 must provide $2,500 of matching support.)

The funding cycle for this program is July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019. Funds will not be available until after July 1, and cannot be spent for activities outside the funding cycle dates.



Funds are to be used to enhance PK-12 arts education through teaching artist programs, community arts education programs, curriculum planning, professional learning for arts educators, teaching artists and teachers of all content.

The proposal should include the use of best standards-based practices reflecting 21st-century teaching and learning.

PK-12 schools through their districts, community organizations, and cultural institutions acting as or in partnership with teaching artists are eligible to apply for the Arts Learning grant. Applicants are encouraged to select teaching artists from the Maine Arts Commission’s Teaching Artist Roster.

The Maine Arts Commission learned during extensive data collection over the past two years that students in Maine’s most underserved regions have fewer opportunities for arts education. The agency therefore is earmarking funds for these regions of Maine. During fiscal year 2018-19, a dedicated grant of $5,000 will be offered to a single applicant from Aroostook, Washington or Oxford County. All other application processes will remain the same for this opportunity. For more information please contact Argy Nestor, Director of Arts Education, 207-287-2713 or


Your school district or organization is eligible to apply only if it meets all of the following criteria:

  • Is a nonprofit organization, legally established in the state of Maine.
  • Has a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service, is a public school district, or is a unit of municipal, county or tribal government.
  • Is in compliance with final reports required for any previous Maine Arts Commission awards received.

NOTE: An individual school must apply through its school district. As the legal applicant, all paperwork will be conducted through the Superintendent’s offices and communications and funds will go directly to the district to be delivered to the school. The Maine Arts Commission cannot contract directly with individual schools regardless of the project. It will be the responsibility of the project staff to communicate with the district office for the transfer of funds.


Please log into our Grants Management System. Your account is free and you can browse grant guidelines and requirements for all programs without applying. Your account also gives you the ability to add your entry to our Artists and Organizations Directory and to post press releases and events to this site’s news and calendar sections.


Agency staff are always here as a resource for you. We recommend contacting the correct staff person a minimum of two-weeks prior to submitting your application.

For general questions about the application or review process please contact Kathy Ann Shaw, Senior Director for Grants and Arts Accessibility, at Kathy or 207-287-2750.

For specific questions about the Arts Learning application please contact Argy Nestor, Director of Arts Education, at or 207-287-2713.

Grant information is available in large print format by request. All Maine Arts Commission programs are accessible to people with disabilities. All programs funded by the Maine Arts Commission must also be accessible.


Brewer in the Snow

January 29, 2018

Arts Learning Grant recipient

In the snow storm earlier this month when many schools had back to back snow days I headed off to the beautiful Brewer Community School. I arrived to find the parking lot so full of snow (and you know I love snow) I wasn’t sure where the sidewalks and parking lots started and ended. Not only was there snow everywhere but the wind was blowing and it was VERY cold!

Once I got inside the building and met up with Christopher Burk, founder and director of the Jazz Residency Initiative, (JRI) I soon forgot about the wind and cold. The Maine Arts Commission Arts Learning Grant assisted JRI with funding this year so I was excited about learning more about the program and seeing it in action. The weather could have shut down the program but the commitment to Brewer School’s music education was evident when the school opened in the afternoon so rehearsals and learning could continue.

Brewer High School jazz band

Brewer High School music teacher Brady Harris was having a lesson with resident jazz musician Mike Stern. At first glance from the center of the Brewer Performing Arts Center Mike looked like a high school student. Later I realized he connected with the students quickly and easily because he was in many ways much younger than his age. They went back and forth comfortably before the high school jazz students arrived for rehearsal and they all jumped right in to making music. I was so impressed! The middle school students followed for rehearsal and their first time meeting Mike (due to the storm). Led by Lanissa Nadeau the students were so well prepared and played amazingly! My only disappointment was that I couldn’t stay for the evening performance but I understand that it was a big success!

Brady and Mike


Jazz Residency Initiative (JRI) is a Maine based non-profit dedicated to positively impacting the development of aspiring jazz musicians by facilitating artist-in-residencies with master musicians. Guest artists share their knowledge with student musicians through a series of masterclasses, rehearsals, and interactive workshops. The three day residencies culminate in Capstone Concerts in which the featured artists and the students share a stage and perform for their community. The Capstone Concerts also includes a Pro Set during which the featured artist plays with regional professional musicians, often providing the students their first opportunity to experience a live professional jazz performance. Through the residencies, JRI pursues its multifaceted mission of inspiring student musicians, improving their musicianship, providing quality listening opportunities for the students and their communities, showcasing regional professional musicians, and reenergizing local music educators.


Planning for each residency typically begins 8 to 14 months in advance. This is partly due to the scheduling demands of the world class master musicians we work with. For example, our most recent residency in Brewer featured Mike Stern. Stern began his career playing with Blood Sweat & Tear and later Miles Davis, and went on to release 17 albums, earning 6 Grammy nominations. Another reason for the long planning cycle is that we want to empower local music educators to build the residencies into their curriculum for the full year. Repertoire selection is done months in advance in conjunction with both the teachers and the featured artist. This allows the hosting music educators to introduce the music to their students and be prepared to explore more of the artistic expression of the pieces. It also allows more time for the students to listen to the guest artists’ discography and alternate renditions of the repertoire. During the follow through phase of the residencies, the teachers guide their students to incorporate learnings related to the repertoire, and to utilize newly learned practice techniques.

Lanissa Nadeau conducting the middle school jazz band


While JRI has honed the format of the residencies to be fairly consistent over the four years that we have been coordinating them, each remains as unique as the featured artists and the communities that host them. They are all hosted by high schools, but open to the public, and strive to include both younger and older students as much as possible. For example, in Brewer, both the high school and middle school big bands were included throughout the residency and Capstone Concert. During others, the middle school students will participate in workshops, but will not perform. While JRI will provide general guidance, we allow the guest artist to select which masterclasses they present, and run the rehearsals as they see fit. There are common themes that all of the featured artist touch on; I don’t think we have had one yet that did not tell the students to practice all twelve Major scales, in time, regularly. The different artists, however, clearly have different points of emphasis such as the importance of listening, time feel, music theory, and technical proficiency.

Mike working with a middle school student


During Mike Stern’s visit to Brewer he touched on all of these themes to varying degrees, but it may be his positive energy and encouragement to “Just keep playing. Keep music in your life regardless of if you intend to perform professionally, teach it or just enjoy it” that is best remembered. Stern also shared non-musical pearls of wisdom such as “learn to get along with others” and “don’t hold grudges.” One highlight was when the  64 year old jazz guitar master informed the students that he still has a teacher and that like him, they should all “practice what their teachers assign first and save the easy or fun stuff for the end of their practice time.” 

A great big THANKS to Christopher Burk for providing information for this blog post.


Ticket to Ride Funding

January 16, 2018

It’s back!!!

The Maine Arts Commission is once again accepting applications for Ticket to Ride thanks to the generous support of the Betterment Fund and proceeds from The Art of Giving Gala sponsored by DownEast Magazine.


The application process has changed!! Applications will be submitted using the Maine Arts Commission Grants Management System (GMS). Please do not use old Ticket to Ride applications. Tips for applying are below!


The Ticket to Ride program provides funding to defray the cost of travel for Maine schools wishing to visit Maine arts based venues and events as part of a well-rounded curriculum. The goals of the trip should support student learning and be aligned with Maine’s Visual and/or Performing Arts Standards.

Any PK-12 school in Maine is eligible to receive support of up to $300 each school year and any PK-12 school in Maine with a documented free and reduced lunch student population of 50 percent or greater is eligible to receive support of up to $500 each school year.


Students at the Portland Museum of Art from the Self Directed Studio Art class at Gardiner Area High School


  • Completed applications will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis and will be approved by the Maine Arts Commission’s Director of Arts in Education upon receipt.
  • Applications are accepted throughout the year and funding will be made available approximately one month after they are submitted.
  • Within three weeks following your trip, the Maine Arts Commission requires the submission of follow-up documentation that includes teacher feedback and student work samples of the experience. A link to the Follow-up Form is provided in the Ticket to Ride funding approval email.
  • Alert your district that you’re submitting an application
  • Schools may apply more than once a year as long as they are applying to attend a different event or bringing a different student population. And, provided there is funding still available for your school.


The Maine Arts Commission respectfully requests that Ticket to Ride funds not be used to replace existing transportation funds in school budgets but rather to supplement them when necessary. Schools are welcome to use Ticket to Ride funds in combination with transportation funds that may be available from individual Maine arts based venues and events. Be sure and check with the venue for funding.


The following tips will help when you get to the application in the GMS. Please gather the information needed so when you get to the application you’ll have it ready. The system is designed to accommodate all the grants the Maine Arts Commission awards, so some terms and fields may seem not descriptive for schools.

  • Email – Person with whom we will contact throughout the grant process
  • DUNS Number – Does not apply to schools – please enter “0”
  • First Name, Last Name – Contact person at the school
  • Contact Email – Same as above email
  • Address, City, State, Zip, Phone – Of the school that will receive the funds
  • % of Free & Reduced Lunch – This information is available in your school or district
  • Vendor Code – Check with your school or district office to obtain


For questions and assistance, please contact Argy Nestor, Director of Arts Education, Maine Arts Commission at 287.2713.


VANS Grants

January 7, 2018

Available for high schools

Deadline: February 9, 2018
VANS Custom Culture Grants are available to public high schools (including charter schools) serving students in grades 9-12 or community based nonprofit organizations/governmental agencies serving as a fiscal agent for arts programming at a qualifying school. The grants are intended to encourage the inclusion of the arts as an integral component of an excellent education, and to support activities that are consistent with local and national learning standards for arts education. Ten (10) schools across the country will each receive a $2,000 grant to support their work in providing high-quality dance, media arts, music, theatre and/or visual arts instruction for students.

Americans for the Arts is pleased to again partner with VANS the Custom Culture Grant program. This program seeks to increase visibility for and resources available to arts educators and schools across the country, in order to sustain the arts as a vital part of education. The grant program is supported by funds from the sales of the winning shoe design in the Custom Culture Art Competition.

To learn more, please download the full guidelines (PDF).


Music Scholarship

November 24, 2017

The Kotzschmar Memorial Trust Scholarship

Hermann Kotzschmar

The Kotzschmar Memorial Trust Scholarship was established in 1911 to provide financial aid “in the musical education of such pupil or pupils, of marked musical ability.” According to the terms of the trust, preference is to be given to promising students of the organ. If no such promising student is found, the trust states that the award “….may be used in aid of students of marked music ability in piano, violin, other musical instruments or voice culture.”

Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ (FOKO) is the administrator of this fund, arranges the auditions and disperses the awards.

Auditions are open to students age 10-18 (grades 4-12), and age 19-25, studying organ, piano, voice, and all orchestral instruments.

Application Deadline: December 15, 2017


Saturday, March 10, 2018

Cathedral of St. Luke, Portland, ME


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