The Traditional Arts Network (TAN) Fund has awarded small grants of $500 – $1,000 to eight traditional artists and ensembles in Maine. 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. TAN is a collaboration between Mayo Street Arts (MSA) and the nonprofit Cultural Resources. The funding will support a range of activities.

This year’s recipients of the TAN Fund are:

  • Baba Ly — Fulani acoustic guitar player and storyteller. The funds will be used to purchase a professional sound system.
  • Batimbo United — Burundian drumming & dance ensemble. The funds will offset shipping expenses for transporting a new set of drums from Burundi.
  • Fanfare Kimbanguiste (FAKI) — Congolese church band. The funds will be used to purchase more instruments, including a tuba.
  • Jawad Al Fatlawi — Master oud player & luthier. The funds will allow for the construction of a new, guitar-shaped, “Goldeneye” oud.
  • Michelle Kazaka — Writer & storyteller. The funds will be used to publish & promote her memoir, “How Long the Night.”
  • Namory Keita — Guinean master drummer. The funds will be used to purchase new drums for his students.
  • Sabina Najafova — Azerbaijani dancer & visual artist. The funds will be used to purchase materials, including and new costumes.
  • Sayalí Robles — Taíno indigenous artist with African roots. The funds will create a Bomba dance apprenticeship group and bring Borikén’s (now called Puerto Rico) culture to Maine.

“The Maine Arts Commission is incredibly excited to have been able to provide some seed funding for this important project. We so often celebrate and honor the many cultural traditions that our newest residents bring to our state. This program invests in those artists directly by providing financial support for the development and growth of their work. We’re honored to be a part of that important effort,” said Maine Arts Commission Executive Director David Greenham.

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. 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 TAN network provides support and infrastructure for newcomer artists and cultural organizations. Membership in the TAN is open to anyone who would like to participate.

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 [email protected], call Mayo Street Arts at 207-879-4629, or visit the Traditional Arts Network website at


Mayo Street Arts (MSA) presents performances of music, theater, puppetry, dance, and visual arts. It is also holds International Open Mic, coordinated by local singer-songwriter Jenny Van West, which draws multicultural performers from throughout Greater Portland. Mayo Street Arts partners 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. Cultural Resources supports a range of community driven programs including artists’ gatherings, apprenticeship programs, and exhibitions. Learn more at: