CNY Arts, Inc.


Arts Education Grants

2021 Applications have reopened!

The CNY Arts Arts Education Grant (formerly known as ArtStart) values the depth and quality of the creative process through which participants learn through or about the arts. Projects must focus on the exploration of art and the artistic process. Arts Education Grants strive to build the capacity of local teaching artists and nonprofit organizations while providing students with high-quality artistic learning experiences. Two distinct strands are offered:

  • K-12 In-School Projects: Arts education projects in school settings (Kindergarten through 12th grade) and partnerships between arts providers, teaching artists, and public schools.
  • Community-Based Learning Projects: Arts education projects in community-based settings for discrete groups of learners that are open and accessible for public participation.

Funding is made possible through the Decentralization program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts.

Second Application Deadline: September 12, 2021, by 11:59 PM
Applications for the Arts Education Grant and the two other DEC Grants are being accepted on a rolling basis. If you have already applied during the first application period (before July 31), please do not apply a second time.

Who May Apply: Nonprofit organizations or individual artists who permanently reside in Cortland, Herkimer, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, or Oswego counties.

Award Amount: $500 - $5,000 

Match Requirement: There is no match requirement for this program. The grant will fund up to 100% of cash expenses. Projects are strongly encouraged to demonstrate a revenue intake of at least 25% of the total expenses.

Project Period: January 1 – December 31, 2021


Review the Program Guidelines

Program Requirements

Requirements for both K-12 and Community-based projects:

  • Sequential, skills-based study that incorporates one or more art forms
  • A minimum of three (3) hands-on and participatory learning sessions on separate days with the same teaching artist(s) and core group of students.
  • In-depth learning opportunities that are age- and skill-appropriate.
  • Projects must include a draft lesson plan with stated learning goals, methodologies, outcomes, and means for evaluation.
  • Projects may culminate in exhibitions, productions, or demonstrations.

Additional Requirements for K-12 Public School Projects:

  • A letter of commitment or support from the partnering public school’s superintendent. This letter must detail the partner(s) support of the project (monetarily and otherwise) and anticipated roles and responsibilities of each partner involved.
  • Applicants and/or teaching artists cannot be current employees or on the payroll of the school district. Projects must not replace or appear to replace the role of certified arts teachers in schools.

Additional Requirements for Community-Based Learning Projects:

  • Activities must be open and accessible for public participation in a community-based setting such as a library, school, community center, or arts organization.
  • Projects must be provided to a closed, core group of learners--i.e., learning sessions may not be open to the general public.

Dates/Locations for Seminars & Webinars have yet to be determined. Please check back soon.

All applicants must be working with an eligible community-base partner or public school. Eligible applicants may apply directly for out-of-school programs. 

Eligible Applicants

  • A 501(c)(3) or New York State nonprofit organization with an active board of trustees either incorporated in NY State or registered to do business in NY State.
  • A government or quasi-governmental entity or tribal organization
  • Individual artists, group, or collectives in all stages of their career who are working with an eligible partner school (for in-school programs) or eligible community-based partner (for out-of-school programs)
    • Lead applicants must be 18 years of age at the time of the submission and may not be enrolled in a full-time degree program.
    • Applicants must reside in the same county as the partner school or community-based partner. If they do not reside in the same county, the applicant must have a nonprofit fiscal sponsor in the county of the public school where the project is to take place.

Ineligible Applicants

  • New York State agencies and departments (including SUNY schools)
  • Public universities and colleges and public, private, or parochial secondary and elementary schools.
  • Students enrolled in a full-time degree program.
  • Unincorporated applicants without an eligible Fiscal Sponsor or partner organization.
  • Applicants with outstanding final reports or open contracts from CNY Arts grants.
  • Applicants outside of the county in which the grant project is taking place without a fiscal sponsor. 
  • Organizations or individuals that have applied directly to the New York State Council on the Arts for the 2021 grant cycle, regardless of funding status. This includes NYSCA RED-C and the A.R.T./New York Creative Opportunity Fund (Opportunity to Create). These organizations also may not serve as fiscal sponsors or community partners.

All grant applications are reviewed for completeness and then sent to the respective panels. All applications are evaluated and scored according to the criteria listed below and must demonstrate a sufficient level of competency within each criteria: Artistic Merit, Project Impact, and Feasibility for a maximum score of 15 points.

Artistic Merit (5 points)

  • The artistic quality of the artist’s work and the proposed project, based on samples of past work submitted;
  • Degree to which the project provides rich artistic learning experiences;
  • Clarity and appropriateness of the artistic goals and expected outcomes in relation to the proposed project activities and ages served;
  • Relevant expertise or background of the proposed artist(s) and teacher(s) involved.

Project Impact (5 points)

  • If this is the creation of a new program, fosters emerging arts disciplines or increases opportunities for local artists;
  • Fulfills a cultural need or otherwise unmet need in terms of artistic discipline, geography, or community engaged;
  • Increases access to the arts or reaches a broad and diverse audience;
  • Demonstration of school or community interest and level of support (financial and/or other resources) in the project;
  • Depth of interaction/contact time between the core group and students, teacher(s), and artist(s);
  • Strong and comprehensive evaluation mechanisms or plans to assess student learning.

Feasibility (5 points)

  • The project demonstrates clearly defined objectives and ability to meet them;
  • Realistic and achievable timeline and budget;
  • Capable artistic and administrative staff, competent financial management;
  • Overall clarity of project proposal;
  • Reasonable plan for implementation;
  • Applicant’s demonstrated ability to implement project;
  • Effectiveness of plan for promotion and outreach to core audience(s) (for Community-Based Learning projects that should be promoted to the public).

Program Priorities             

  • New programs or projects that have not previously received funding
  • Applicants that have applied and not received funding consecutively in the past two years
  • K-12 In-School Arts Education projects

Eligible Expenses

Remember this is a project support grant program, all expenses should be related to supporting a specific project:

  • Artist fees for performing, teaching, or providing services
  • Marketing/publicity costs
  • Project-related administrative expenses
  • Expendable, project-related supplies and materials
  • Project-related travel expenses (no out-of-state travel)
  • Project-related rental of space and equipment
  • Project-related equipment purchases of up to $1,000.00
  • Project-related technical fees

Ineligible Expenses

Funding will not be provided for the items listed below. By including ineligible expenses in your budget or narrative, you may disqualify your entire application from being considered. If you have questions about expenses, just ask!

  • Any activity that takes place outside of the county where the applicant is registered
  • Operating expenses of privately owned facilities
  • Events that take place in private homes or studios
  • Purchase of permanent equipment exceeding $1,000.00
  • Capital improvements or building construction/development
  • Acquisition of works of art
  • Cash prizes, scholarships, fellowships, awards to students
  • Regrants by applicants to fund other activities
  • Juried shows and competitions
  • Camps, clubs or activities restricted to the general public (exception Arts Education)
  • Food/drink or hospitality-related costs
  • Galas, benefits, receptions, parties or fundraising events
  • Activities that raise funds for another organization, individual or cause
  • Entertainment such as balloons, clowns, magicians, “sip and paint”
  • Creation of textbooks or classroom materials
  • Programs in which children are used as professional artists (paid a fee)
  • Projects that are recreational, therapeutic, rehabilitative, or religious in nature including at-risk/social service programs when the purpose is primarily for rehabilitation, therapy or worship
  • Lobbying and advocacy-related expenses · Projects that involve payment(s) to direct NYSCA applicants (please see list).
  • Direct NYSCA applicants MUST NOT:
    • handle box office or ticketing
    • profit from the DEC program (ticket sales, donations, etc.)
    • include DEC funded programs as part of their season/programming
  • Completed Submittable Application
  • DEC Project Budget Form
  • Letter of Support from the partnering Public School or Community-Based Partner
  • Lesson Plan including stated goals, methodologies, expected outcomes, and means for evaluation
  • Bios/Resumes of Key Artists and/or Administrators
  • Artistic Work Samples* (See guide for work samples)

Optional, but strongly encouraged for all applicants to include:

  • Work Samples & Support Materials
  • Marketing Materials & Collateral 
  • Additional Letters of Support


Additional required documents according to the applicant type:

Individual Artists WHO RESIDE IN THE SAME COUNTY as the partnering Public School or Community-Based Partner:

  • Artist Proof of Address in eligible county
    • A driver’s license, utility bill, tax return, etc.
    • Proof of residency must must contain the individual’s name and address and be dated no earlier than 2019.

Individual Artists WHO DO NOT RESIDE IN THE SAME COUNTY as the partnering Public School or Community-Based Partner:

  • A Fiscal Sponsorship Agreement from an eligible nonprofit organization in the same county as the partnering entity.
  • All the required items below.

Nonprofit Organizations:

  • Proof of Nonprofit Status (you must provide one of the following forms):
    • Determination Letter from the Internal Revenue Service indicating tax exempt status under section 501(c)(3)
    • Documentation of charter by the NYS Board of Regents under section 216 of the NYS Education Law
    • Documentation of incorporation under Section 402 of the NYS Not-for-Profit Corporation Law
    • Current NYS Bureau of Charities (Office of the Attorney General) filing receipt
    • Official authorization as an arm of local government
  • Staff List & Board Member Affiliation List
  • Financial Statement for your most recently completed fiscal year

Decentralization 2020 Grantees

Decentralization 2019 Grantees

Decentralization 2018 Grantees

Decentralization 2017 Grantees

Decentralization 2016 Grantees

All questions that are asked to the Program Director are posted below with answers.