CNY Arts, Inc.


Arts Education Grants

2021 Applications are now open!

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

2021 Application Deadline: July 31, 2021 by 11:59 PM
Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. The second application deadline will be announced in August.

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, skill-based study, and participatory arts projects that incorporate one or more art forms.
  • A minimum of three (3) contact sessions with the same teaching artist(s) and core group of students on separate days. Drop-in classes are not allowable.
  • Projects must include a draft lesson plan with stated learning goals, methodologies, outcomes, and means for evaluation.
  • Learning opportunities must be in-depth, age and skill-appropriate.

Additional Requirements for K-12 Public School Projects:

  • A letter of commitment or support from the partnering public school’s superintendent. This letter must outline the partner(s) support of the project and anticipated roles and responsibilities.
  • Applicants and/or teaching artists cannot be current employees or on the payroll of the school district.

Additional Requirements for Community-Based Learning Projects:

  • Activities must be open and accessible for public participation.
  • A letter of commitment or support from the nonprofit or teaching artist. This letter must outline the teaching artist(s) and organization’s roles and responsibilities for the project.

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


Eligible Applicants

  • Individual artists in all stages of their career over the age of 18 or
  • Nonprofit organization or New York State charity
  • Must be a permanent resident of Cortland, Herkimer, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, or Oswego counties.
  • Must have a permanent address in the same county the project is taking place.

Ineligible Applicants

  • 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. 
  • Individuals or organizations 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 REDC and the A.R.T./New York Creative Opportunity Fund (Opportunity to Create). 


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 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
  • 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 Narrative
  • AE Project Budget Form
  • Lesson Plan
  • 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:

  • Marketing Materials & Collateral 
  • Letters of Support


There are multiple ways applicants can apply to the Arts Education Program and different required documents per each applicant type:

Nonprofit Organizations:

  • Letter of Commitment from the Public School/Nonprofit Organization
  • Proof of Nonprofit Status: you must provide one of the following forms:
    • Determination Letter from the Internal Revenue Service 501(c)(3)
    • Charter by the NYS Board of Regents Under Section 216 of the NYS Education Law
    • Current NYS Bureau of Charities (office of the Attorney General) filing receipt
    • Official authorization as an arm of the local government
    • Documentation of Incorporation Under Section 402 of the NYS Not-for-Profit Corporation Law
  • Board Member Affiliation List
  • Financial Statement for your most recently completed fiscal year


  • Letter of Commitment from the Public School or Partnering Nonprofit
  • Artist Proof of Address in eligible county

o    This can be demonstrated through 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.

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.