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USDA Rural Development Lends $1.7M to Maine Arts Academy for New School

Leigh Hallett
Release Date

USDA Rural Development Commemorates National Arts & Humanities Month by

Announcing Funding to Maine Arts Academy for Purchase of New Campus   

School Celebrates Move to New Facility with Ribbon-cutting and Open House  

Augusta, Oct. 13, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Maine State Director Rhiannon Hampson today announced that USDA has provided a loan of nearly $1.7 million and a loan guarantee of the same amount to the Maine Arts Academy (MeAA). The school used the funds to purchase the former Maine Veterans’ Home property on Cony Road in Augusta and to make some initial renovations. Director Hampson joined a ribbon cutting ceremony at the academy's new facility on October 11th, helping to celebrate the occasion and announce the Rural Development Community Facilities Program funding. 

The announcement comes during National Arts & Humanities Month, which is celebrated each October as an opportunity for all Americans to explore and appreciate the arts and humanities. Organizations at the local, state, and national levels hold events to encourage free and equitable access to the arts. As President Joseph Biden noted in proclaiming the occasion, the arts and humanities “represent the freedom of expression that empowers Americans to speak and think independently and creatively.” 

“The USDA Rural Development team was excited to work on this project and fund the purchase of the property for the Academy,” said Director Hampson. “Seeing the student artwork and performances underscores how essential the arts and humanities are to Mainers of all ages. This project demonstrates that the community building work of USDA Rural Development is not limited to public safety buildings, medical facilities, and municipal structures. We know that free and equitable access to education and the arts are also critical to our rural communities, and we remain committed to supporting the schools, small museums, libraries, and other organizations that are the backbone of Maine’s rural culture.” 

Established in 2016, the MeAA offers education in the visual and performing arts as well as a full academic curriculum to high school students. The free public charter school currently has students enrolled from thirteen Maine counties. After moving to the new location over the summer, classes for the fall term opened in Augusta. Thanks to the new facility (nearly six times larger than the previous leased location in Sidney) the school will be able to offer more programs in the future and expects increase enrollment from 245 to 400.

The St. Agatha Historical Society, the Millinocket Public Library, the New England Music Camp, the Children’s Discovery Museum, Washington Academy, and the Fiddleheads Center for the Arts are examples of other recent past recipients of USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Program funding. The program offers competitive grants affordable financing to develop essential community facilities in rural areas.

For more information on Maine’s Community Facilities programs and funding, please contact Bob Nadeau, Community Programs Director, USDA Rural Development, at 207-990-9124 or Robert.Nadeau@usda.gov.  



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