The Spark Awards celebrate and recognize outstanding individuals and organizations from across the Western New York arts community for their dedication, talent, and impact on the arts and cultural sector. This year’s presentation will be streamed for free on our YouTube page on Wednesday, May 26, 2021 at 7:00 pm.

Click here to learn more about the Spark Awards.

Cullen Foundation serves the residents of Erie County by providing funding and support that significantly enhances the education of students in grades pre-K through 12 and advances theatre and the performing arts. In 2020, they granted $1,123,690 out among 39 performing arts grantees in Erie and Niagara counties broken out as such:

Funding By Program Areas (PA) in 2020
Category Amount %
Theatre/Plays $722,350 64%
Music $320,340 29%
Singers $24,000 2%
Dance $45,000 4%
Other (PA venue) $12,000 1%
Total $ $1,123,690 100%


You can view their Performing Arts Strategic Investment Plan by clicking here.

Hear how Cullen has impacted our arts community!

The Cullen Foundation threw their support behind Buffalo String Works when we were just a fledgling organization. Their early investment made it possible for us to grow BSW to the point where we now serve nearly 100 students across the city of Buffalo. Despite this daunting year, the Cullen Foundation continues to support our student performances and they are helping us kick off a strategic planning process that will take us through 2024. We are grateful to the staff and trustees of Cullen!

Yuki Numata Resnick, Executive Director
Buffalo String Works


Cullen Foundation has been instrumental to Torn Space’s programming over the past several years. Their support allowed us to develop and launch a performance festival to bring renowned contemporary performance companies to the WNY region while showcasing local talent and highlighting architectural spaces such as Silo City through site-based performance. This work is not possible without Cullen’s generosity, belief and support. Staff at the Cullen Foundation clearly take an interest in the work they support. The lines of communication are always open and the Foundation is continuously seeking out ways to grow and improve the performing arts sector in WNY. The arts community is better and stronger because of the Cullen Foundation.

Dan Shanahan, Artistic Director
Torn Space


Neglia Ballet is grateful for the generous support we have received from the Cullen Foundation over the years and especially during the pandemic. The Cullen Foundation feels like a true partner as they ask for feedback, listen to what we need, and make efforts to understand our organization’s work and mission.

It was through Cullen’s encouragement and support that Neglia Ballet was able to embark on Network for Good’s Jumpstart program and implement a new process of engaging with our donors and community.

Bronwen Battaglia, Director of Logistics & Communications
Neglia Ballet Artists


The Historic Colored Musicians Club of Buffalo NY, Inc.’s Board of Directors would like to thank the SPARK Awards for the opportunity to publicly celebrate the Cullen Foundation’s ongoing support of our century-old organization. Financial support from the Cullen Foundation has been instrumental in building a more sustainable governance structure to move the organization seamlessly into a new generation for musicians and music lovers alike. They have also provided critical support to our collaborative initiatives which has afforded the Club opportunities to partner with other organizations; this has increased economies of scale while presenting top musical talent from Erie County and around the world. The Cullen Foundation is truly in league of their own!

Board of Directors
Colored Musicians Club


The Cullen Foundation has been a pivotal partner in support of Shea’s over many years. They understand the value of performing arts and cultural institutions in our community and back it up with a level of commitment that transcends all our expectations.

John Schaller, Director of Development
Shea’s Performing Arts Center