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Dear Representative Pingree

Dear Representative Pingree,

We write to you today as members of the diverse and vibrant creative community of Maine. We are artists, musicians, writers, filmmakers, actors, dancers, sound engineers, and so much more. We’re also arts administrators and often community leaders. We’re Mainers who are dealing with this new reality and finding it’s an incredibly tough time to be in the business of bringing people together. 

Here at SPACE in Portland, we’re daunted by the challenges of these incredibly sudden and necessary changes to our work. The best-case scenario for our small arts nonprofit is losing at least $75,000 in program revenue and grant-funding during this prolonged closure. We currently have nine part-time employees who are without any shifts due to our canceled concerts, films, readings, exhibition openings, dance performances, and other community events. We also have staff members who cannot work due to childcare and personal health complications. The facts of life under this new normal will only get worse as the need for social distancing continues. 

Of course, SPACE’s story is not unique in this time; our sister-organizations, venues, and theaters are feeling these same struggles. As small organizations in a small state, our margins are often razor-thin and our reserves usually non-existent, but our commitment to creating a better world for our communities is always resolute. Our work is a labor of love and we will fight to survive.

As arts institutions, it is critical we stay open because our work is now more crucial than ever. These times are undeniably dark and chaotic, but the lives of Mainers are more grounded and hopeful when we are providing them with arts, artists, and ideas. At SPACE, we’ve pivoted from our rigorous event programming directly to a new initiative entitled Broadcasts: Art in the Age of Social Distancing, where we’ll be providing a daily round-up of exclusive artist projects and media made in isolation, artist resources, and otherwise uplifting content via an email list and our social media channels. This is but one of the forward-thinking and transformational projects coming out of our creative community right now. We are all still doing this work and are as committed as ever, for the good of people in Maine and the good of humanity. We need support to continue to provide entertainment and emotional and intellectual enrichment for our homebound audiences.

Many of us who are artists and performers have lost the entirety of our incomes or close to it. Times were tough before this pandemic, but now we are in dire straits. We know you have been fighting hard in Congress, but much of these aid packages will only go so far for the self-employed musicians who now have all of their gigs canceled or the visual artists who no longer have any open galleries to show and sell their work. Most of us are people who do not qualify for the expanded unemployment benefits or sick pay and have good reason to be nervous about taking on more debt, even through a low or no interest loan. We need direct relief.  

In dark times, artists provide the light. As our communities so quickly became physically disconnected over this last week, we saw artists of all disciplines step up immediately, providing live-streamed concerts, dance performances, film screenings, and readings, opening up their apartments and studios, inviting us in and bringing us all closer together. In times of trouble, artists are here for healing. We are professional empaths and our lives are giving. We are a different sort of response team. We help people process the worst of times and we’ll help build a better world once this crisis is over.

We all recognize the arts are an economic engine and a transformational force. Nationally, the most recent US Bureau of Economic Analysis report demonstrated that the arts contribute $763.6 billion to the U.S. economy, more than agriculture, transportation, and warehousing. The arts employ 4.9 million workers across the country with earnings of more than $370 billion. Furthermore, the arts export $20 billion more than they import, providing a positive trade balance. Here in Maine, the arts have been one of the fastest-growing industries for the last several decades, employing tens of thousands, attracting new business and residents, and contributing millions to the economy, all the while boosting tourism, revenue, and property value. But the arts and artists themselves also have incredible value beyond anything quantifiable. That’s why we reach out to you now, as co-chair of the Congressional Arts Caucus. The arts sector has ground to a halt and if we’re to survive, we need your support in Washington.

Thank you for all your hard work through these trying last few weeks and especially for all the hard work in the months ahead. Our hopes have been buoyed by the outstanding work of you and your colleagues in the Congressional Progressive Caucus this week. We know there is no shortage of good ideas in your community and ours. We can get through this together.

We’re lucky to have an advocate like you in and we’re glad to have you on our side. 

Sincerely yours,

Nat Baldwin (Event Staff at SPACE, musician, writer)

Genevieve Beaudoin (Communications Coordinator of SPACE, musician) 

Catherine Buxton (Event Staff at SPACE, performance artist)

Luna Colt (Gallery Preparator at SPACE, musician)

Jonathan Downs (Building Superintendent of SPACE, organizer at New Fruit, musician)

Quinn Farwell (Event Staff at SPACE, musician, sound engineer)

Kelsey Halliday Johnson (Executive Director of SPACE, artist, writer)

Ian P. Hundt (Production and Events Manager of SPACE, engineer, musician)

Greg Jamie (Event Staff at SPACE, musician, artist)

Jocelyn Leighton (Office Manager of SPACE, Grad student, artist)

Megan MacKenzie (Event Staff at SPACE, MSW student)

Peter McLaughlin (Music Programmer of SPACE, musician, organizer)

Henry Oliva (Intern at SPACE, musician)

Elisabeth Parker (Event Staff at SPACE, musician, artist)

Carolyn Wachnicki (Exhibitions Coordinator of SPACE, graphic designer, artist)

Kelsey Warren (Intern at SPACE, student, writer)

Lia Wilson (Engagement Manager of SPACE, writer)

Signed in solidarity with, 

Tammy Ackerman (Executive Director, Engine)

Shannon Allen (Musician)

Kathryn Anker (Owner/Director; Running With Scissors Studios)

Jessica L Barker (Performance Artist)

Jamie Beals (Supporter of creative people!)

Jeff Beam (Programming Director at One Longfellow Square, musician)

Hamilton Belk (Musician)

Sascha Braunig (Artist, SPACE studios tenant) 

Nik Bsullak (Artist)

Fritz Buehner (Aristide, board of directors Ellis Beauregard Foundation)

James Chute (Artist)

Kimberly Convery (SPACE studio artist)

Pat Corrigan (Events Programmer at The Apohadion Theater)

Jenna Crowder (Co-Founding Editor, The Chart; Independent Writer and Artist)

Michael Curran (Artist) 

Joshua DeScherer (Musician)

Kristen Dolloff (Grower & Designer, Humble Bee Flowers)

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc (Executive Director, Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, writer, poet, and teacher)

Colleen Finnell (Supporter of the Arts)

Kim Fleming (Executive Director, Waterfall Arts)

Terez Fraser (Owner, Blue)

Michael Gilroy (Owner, Frontier)

Jasmine J Haines (Writer)

Adriane Herman (Experience Broker, SPACE studio artist, and professor, Maine College of Art)

Nicole Hill (Community supporter)

Gelsey Hubbard (New Fruit)

Hilary Irons (Gallery and Exhibitions Director, UNE)

Tyler Jackson (Musician) 

Jessica Joaquin (Enjoyer of the Arts)

Greg Jamie (Events Programmer at The Apohadion Theater)

Nicholas Johnson (Executive Director, Prism Analog)

Rachel Kobasa (Artist)

Alice Kornhauser (Executive director, Portland Chamber Music Festival)

Annie Leahy (Executive Director, Mechanics’ Hall & SPACE board member)

Casey Loring (Artist)

Alan Lovell (Arts supporter)

Kelly A. McConnell (Chair of Art Education & Associate Professor, Master of Arts in Teaching program/MECA, Artist + Educator)

Blainor McGough (Executive Director, Mayo Street Arts)

Donna McNeil (Executive Director, Ellis-Beauregard Foundation)

Alex Mead (Director, BUOY Gallery, artist, musician)

Márcia Minter (Co-Founder, Indigo Arts Alliance)

Jonathan Morse (Events Programmer at Geno’s Rock Club, musician)

Pilar Nadal (Artist, Owner & Director of Pickwick Independent Press (operated in the SPACE studio building)

Colby Nathan (Events Manager at The Apohadion Theater, musician, artist)

Muneko Otani (Seal Bay Festival, Cassatt String Quartet)

Kyle Owens (Surgical Pathology Technician, artist, musician)

Kerry Patriarca (Marketing Manager, former Maine resident, SPACE supporter & believer in the power and importance of the arts now more than ever) 

Sam Pawlowski (Student, USM, musician)

Hannah Perry (Program director at Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, writer)

Julie Poitras Santos (Director of Exhibitions, Institute of Contemporary Art, Maine College of Art, artist, writer)

Nikki Rayburn (Assistant Director of Exhibitions, Maine College of Art, Artist)

Mark Rubin (Artistic Director, Mad Horse Theatre Company)

Hillary Savage (Cultural Worker, Banditry Press)

Samuel Seda (Musician, artist, cook)

Brendan Shea (Artist)

Hannah K Smith (Bar Manager, Sun Tiki Studios)

Ian Smith (Owner, sound person at Sun Tiki Studios, musician)

Oliver Watson (Treasurer, Space Gallery, supporter of the Portland arts community) 

Riley Watts (Independent Dance Artist)

Linzee Weld (Board Chair, One Longfellow Square)

Julia Whyel (Independent Media Producer)

Golaleh Yazdani (Artist)

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