CNY Arts, Inc.


Individual Artist Commissions

2021 Applications have reopened!

The CNY Arts Individual Artist Commission supports local, artist-initiated projects in the creation of new work with exceptional community engagement in the creative process. This project-based grant represents a "live and work" investment in local artists.

The commissioned project must take place between January 1 to December 31, 2021. It must also take place in the same county as the applicant's permanent residence. Multiple artists may partner or collaborate to complete the project.

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 Individual Artist Commission 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: Individual artists who permanently reside in Cortland, Herkimer, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, or Oswego counties

Award Amount: $1,000 - $2,500

Match Requirement: There is no match requirement for this program. The grant will fund up to 100% of cash expenses.

Project Period: January 1 – December 31, 2021


Review the Program Guidelines

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

Eligible Applicants

  • Individual artists in all stages of their career.
  • Must be at least 18 years old.
  • 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

  • Students enrolled in a full-time degree program.
  • 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.
  • Organizations or businesses.
  • 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)

  • sophistication of project concept and design;
  • originality of proposed project;
  • artistic skill, talent, and relevant experience of the applicant and other involved artists;
  • audience experience.

Community Impact (5 points)

  • consideration of community needs/interests;
  • depth of audience engagement, accessibility (financial or physical);
  • non-duplication of comparable existing services/programs;
  • number of people project will serve;
  • engagement of under-resourced communities, neighborhoods or groups.

Feasibility (5 points)

  • overall clarity of project proposal;
  • reasonable plan for implementation and engagement;
  • applicant’s demonstrated ability to implement project;
  • realistic proposal based on personnel, budget and timeline;
  • effectiveness of plan for promotion and outreach to core audience(s).

Program Priorities                                                                              

  • Projects that engage communities that are under-resourced or have limited access to the arts 
  • New projects that have not previously received funding 
  • Projects that demonstrate artistic excellence

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
  • IAC Project Budget Form
  • Proof of County/NYS Residency 
    • This can be demonstrated through a driver’s license, utility bill, tax return, etc. Proof of residency must contain the individual’s name and address and be dated no earlier than 2019. 
  • Artistic Work Samples* (See guide for work samples)

Optional, but strongly encouraged for all applicants to include:

  • Marketing Materials & Collateral 
  • Letters of Support

*Guide for Artistic Work Samples:

Audio Work Samples  recommended for Composers: Please upload directly into the application MP3 files that do not exceed a total of 10 minutes of the original composition. The file may include as many songs as you want, but the total length must not exceed 10 minutes. 

Video Work Samples  recommended for Choreographers or Solo Performing Artists: Please upload one 10-minute video excerpt or two (2) 5-minute video excerpts from previously completed work. Two 5-minute clips may be from two different works. 

Image Work Samples  recommended for Visual Artists: Upload up to 10 digital images. 

Written Work Samples  recommended for Writers, Playwrights, and Librettists: Upload a full script or libretto completed in the last five years. Evaluators will read the first 10-pages of the script AND an additional 10-page section that you indicate. Use the work sample description field to indicate the second section. File format: PDF (Preferred) 


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.