CNY Arts, Inc.


Community Arts Grants

2021 Applications have reopened!

The CNY Arts Community Arts Grant support activities of individual artists, collectives, and community nonprofit organizations for projects and activities that enable Central New York and Mohawk Valley communities to experience and engage with the performing, literary, media, and visual arts. 

Through this grant program, CNY Arts will award $145,000 for projects taking place in the counties of Cortland, Herkimer, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, and Oswego between January 1 - December 31, 2021.

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 Community Arts 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, individual artists with an eligible fiscal sponsor or community-based partner

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 with tickets sales 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

Dates/Locations for Seminars & Webinars have not been scheduled. Please check back again later.

Eligible Applicants

  • 501(c)(3) or New York State nonprofit organizations with an active board of trustees.
  • A governmental or quasi-governmental entity or tribal organization.
  • Individual artists, groups, or collectives or unincorporated entities who are working with an eligible Fiscal Sponsor or Community Based Partner.
  • Applicants must be located in Cortland, Herkimer, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, or Oswego counties.
  • Applicants must have a permanent address in the same county the project is taking 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 applications are evaluated and scored by the panel according to the criteria listed below and must demonstrate a sufficient level of competency within each criterion: Artistic Merit, Community Impact, and Feasibility for a maximum score of 15 points.

Artistic Merit (5 points)

  • quality of artistic samples and credentials of proposed artists or personnel
  • project design
  • audience experience

Community Impact (5 points)

  • service to under-resourced area/population
  • collaboration with other organizations, artists, businesses
  • cultural diversity in programming
  • consideration of community needs/interests
  • accessibility (financial or physical)
  • non-duplication of comparable existing services/programs
  • committed and proposed community support/partners

Feasibility (5 points)

  • overall clarity and thoughtfulness of project proposal
  • reasonable plan and capacity for implementation
  • realistic proposal based on personnel, budget, timeline, and stated goals
  • effective plan for promotion and outreach to core audience(s)

Program Priorities                                                                              

  • New or pilot projects from returning grantees
  • Growth or expansion in existing projects from returning applicants or grantees
  • Projects from first-time applicants
  • Projects from applicants that have not received consecutive funding in the past two years
  • Fees or compensation paid to artists or artistic groups

Eligible Expenses

The Community Arts Grant is a project support grant program and 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
  • Project-related travel expenses (no out-of-state travel)
  • Project-related rental of space and equipment
  • Project-related technical fees
  • Expendable, project-related supplies and materials (not to exceed $1,000)
  • Equipment, software, subscriptions, and training (not to exceed $1,000)

Ineligible Expenses

The Community Arts Grant is unable to fund the following expenses:

  • Requests greater than an applicant's project expenses minus total project income
  • General operating expenses
  • Acquisitions of works of art
  • Contingency funds or capital improvements
  • Purchase of permanent equipment exceeding $1,000
  • Creation of textbooks or classroom material
  • Lobbying expenses
  • Regrants by applicants to fund other activities
  • Cash prizes, juried shows, fellowships, educational scholarships, or other awards to students
  • Feed paid to children
  • Any activity that takes place outside of the applicant's residential county
  • Start-up or seed funding for the establishment of a new organizations
  • Events that take place in private homes or studios
  • Non-arts related activity, including:
    • Galas, benefits, or fundraising events including entertainment costs for receptions, food, or fundraising
    • Entertainment such as balloons, clowns, magicians, "sip and paint", etc.
    • Projects that are recreational, therapeutic, rehabilitative, or religious in nature, including at-risk / social service programs, where the purpose is primarily for rehabilitation, therapy, or worship
  • 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

By including ineligible expenses in your budget or narrative, you may disqualify your entire application from being considered. If you have questions about expenses, please contact the Regrants Program Officer.

  • Completed Submittable Application
  • DEC Project Budget Form
  • Bios/Resumes of Key Artist(s) & Personnel

Optional, but strongly encouraged for all applicants to include:

  • Work Samples & Support Materials
  • Letters of Support


Additional required documents according to the applicant type:

Individual artists or unincorporated entities:

  • Fiscal Sponsorship Agreement from an eligible nonprofit organization in the same county as project.
  • 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.

What is a Fiscal Sponsor?

Individual artists or collectives who do not meet eligibility requirements may apply to the Community Arts Grant or either of the other two DEC Grants through a fiscal sponsor. The entity serving as a fiscal sponsor must meet the same eligibility requirements as an applicant organization. Some things to note:

  • The fiscal sponsor must be based in the county that the proposed project is taking place. The sponsored applicant is then not required to reside in that county.
  • A fiscal sponsor may sponsor more than one applicant, as well as apply for the Community Arts Grant themselves. Sponsored applications do not count towards the award cap of $5,000.
  • Direct NYSCA applicants may not serve as a fiscal sponsor.

Fiscal Sponsors are further responsible for:

  • Knowledge and understanding of the Community Arts Grant criteria and relevant guidelines
  • Ensuring that the project occurs within the appropriate contract period and required service area
  • Consulting with the artist or collective regarding project eligibility and conveying all relevant grant application information, including deadlines and online access details
  • Registering requests and submitting applications with all required supporting information, including an Organizational Budget and Events Schedule (where applicable)
  • Execute a letter of agreement with the sponsored artist that clearly outlines the administration of the grant and defines mutual responsibilities
  • Informing sponsored artist of funding decisions in a timely manner (prior to the expiration of the appeals period)
  • Receiving and disbursing granted funds and ensuring that all relevant tax filings and reporting are executed as appropriate
  • Submitting a final report on the expenditure of the grant funds after the end of the contract period