WNY Arts Emergency Relief Fund

The current state of emergency caused by COVID-19 has profoundly impacted Western New York’s creative industry. With the cancellation of performances, workshops, gigs, and more, artists and arts and cultural organizations who rely on event-based income are losing revenue that is essential to continue their operations. As Western New Yorkers take pride in our resiliency, generosity, and collaborative spirit, ASI is excited to announce the creation of the WNY Arts Emergency Relief Fund with support from Fund for the Arts.

Our goal is simple: to ensure that our rich and diverse arts sector withstands this crisis. We know that the arts are a source of healing for communities; they bring us together and force us to reckon with the big questions of our shared experiences. When we make it to the other side of this crisis—and we will make it to the other side—we’ll need the arts more than ever.

The application will open on Friday, May 1. You can review our Frequently Asked Questions sheet here, review the eligibility requirements below, or preview the application below. If you still have questions after reviewing all of the materials for this fund, contact Holly Grant at holly@asiwny.org.

Click the button below to see a full list of organizations that were awarded a grant through the WNY Arts Emergency Relief Fund as of May 20, 2020.

List of Awardees

Eligibility Requirements


Individuals who earn a living by creating or practicing art, including teaching artists and independent contractors whose primary work is in the arts of any discipline, are eligible to apply for this fund. Requests can be made of up to $1,000. Please review the eligibility criteria below before starting your application.

  • Must be a permanent resident of Erie, Niagara, Allegany, Cattaraugus, or Chautauqua counties.

  • Must be at least 18 years old.

  • Cannot be enrolled in an undergraduate degree program.

  • Must demonstrate a direct and significant loss of income directly related to arts and/or cultural work.

  • Priority will be placed on individuals whose primary source of income comes from creating or practicing art.


Nonprofit arts and cultural organizations that represent any creative discipline are eligible to apply for these funds. Requests can be made of up to $5,000. Please review the eligibility criteria below before starting your application.

  • Must be located in Erie, Niagara, Allegany, Cattaraugus, or Chautauqua counties.

  • Arts and cultural programming must be part of the mission and be the primary focus of programming.

  • Must have at least one full year of completed arts or cultural programming.

  • Must be a registered 501c3 nonprofit, tax exempt, or have CHAR500 status.

  • Must demonstrate a direct and significant loss of revenue due to cancelled events, programs, projects, etc.

Additional requirements for both individuals and organizations:

  • Funding cannot cover training, medical procedures, or be redistributed through a regrant program
  • Funding cannot be used to cover costs related to a program or project that has been previously funded by ASI (e.g., 2020 DEC or Global Warming Art Project)

The application will open on Friday, May 1. Click the button below to preview the application and set up your account in our grants portal.

Click Here to Apply

Need help creating an account in our grants portal? Watch the video tutorial below.

Application Review and Deadlines

There is no deadline for this fund. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the fund is depleted. ASI staff will administer and review applications along with several community leaders on a weekly basis pending the number of requests and overall need. Applications will be considered on a first come, first served basis. Funding will be assigned based on need and is representative of the full creative sector from a variety of perspectives including socio-economic, cultural heritage and history, ethnicity, size and scope of organization, artistic discipline, geographic location, and career-level of artists. Partial funding may be awarded instead of filling the full request.

Applications will be reviewed and assessed based on the following criteria:

  • Need for funding
  • Urgency of request
  • Impact of funding on organization/individual
  • Efforts to continue art and creative practice beyond COVID-19

Every application will be evaluated based on its own merits. Applicants must demonstrate the above items in their application. Applicants who do not receive funding will be provided feedback and may submit another application for consideration.

At this point, the WNY Arts Emergency Relief Fund is a one-time award. ASI is will be evaluating this process and the funds on a regular basis and may adjust our policies based on need and availability.

Donate to the Fund

Western New York is incredibly lucky to have a vast and vibrant arts and cultural community in Western New York. As a result of all the cancelled or postponed events, programs, and projects, there is a high demand for this kind of financial support in the arts community.

Based on survey results from 178 artists and arts organizations from across Western New York, the current total loss of revenue/income is $2,532,576 — and that’s as of March 31, 2020. The total anticipated loss from respondents is $4,459,319.

The arts need your support—now more than ever. In addition to loss of revenue, we know from history that public funding for the arts gets cut whenever we face economic upheaval. Your donation will help ensure that our vibrant and invaluable arts and cultural community will survive this global health crisis.

All proceeds from ASI’s WNY Arts Emergency Relief Fund will be distributed directly to eligible arts organizations and artists of all disciplines. This fund is possible thanks to the generous support of local foundations, corporations, and you—individual donors and neighbors within our community.

Donate to the WNY Arts Emergency Relief Fund

Sponsors and Supporters

ASI has created a WNY Arts Emergency Relief Fund with seed funding from Fund for the Arts. The Fund for the Arts is a funder’s cooperative of public, private, family and corporate foundations that assesses the needs of our arts community, promotes collaboration and strengthens the sector through systems change approaches.

To date, the Fund for the Arts has distributed just under $3M to strengthen our arts and cultural sector and supported creation of Arts Services Initiative of WNY and Young Audiences of WNY’s Art Partners for Learning program.


Cameron and Jane Baird Foundation
Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo
First Niagara Foundation
M&T Charitable Foundation
John R. Oishei Foundation
WNY Foundation

Individual Donors to the Fund

The Marilyn Gohr McTaggart Reveal Fund at the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo

A Family Fund at the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo

Sherry Arndt

Virginia Barron

Margot Bennett Mitschow

Meghann Boltz

David Bunis JRT

Taylor Burrows

Patricia Caputo

James Carr

Paula Celestino

Anne Conable

Kelly Copps

Donna Crider

Paulette Crooke

Lucy Dadd

Leanne Darling

Ron Gaglione

Scott Goldman, D.M.D. and Nancy Brock

Beth Gosch

Lee Ann Grace

Holly Grant

Susan and Richard Green

Joy Guarino

Megan Hahin

Paulette D. Harris

Brenda Johnson Hogan

Dr. Kathleen Keenan-Takagi

Bryan Kilpatrick

Jane Liebner

Catherine Lincoln

David Lundy

Rachel Macklin Olszewski

H. Jeffrey Marcus

Dawn Martin Berry-Walker

Frances McPhaden Denk

Montante Family

Thomas Nemmer

Gina O’Neill

Jennifer Owen

Peter Palmisano

Clara Papke

Ann Philippone

Karen Polaske

Susan Przybyl

Sharon Rozbicki

Shawn Schlifke

Maria Scrivani

L. Sullivan

Jen Swan

Maria Testa

Phyllis I. Thompson

Maria Tripi

Leslie Walker

Dave & Susan Wedekindt

Branwyn Wilkinson

Priscilla Young-Anker