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Community Arts and Arts Education Decentralization Grant Program (DEC) Grants

Grants to New York Nonprofits, Artists, Municipalities,
and Tribes for Community and K-12 Arts Projects

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) and Arts Services Initiative of Western New York (ASI)

Deadline Date:

12/11/20 11:59 PM


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Grants of up to $5,000 to New York nonprofit organizations, municipalities, tribal organizations, individuals representing collective groups, and artists in eligible areas for community and educational arts projects. All applicants are required to attend an information session prior to submitting an application. Eligible programs must take place in Erie or Niagara County.

NYSCA established the Decentralization Grant Program (DEC) in 1977 to ensure that New York State’s cultural funding reaches every part of the state. The program forms the cornerstone of the Council’s partnership with local arts agencies throughout the state (like ASI), providing a link between the Council and portions of the community that might not otherwise be able to access funding from NYSCA. 

Grants are made in two categories:

  1. The Community Arts DEC Grant provides financial and technical assistance for community-based arts activities. All requests must have a public component – one that is available and accessible to the entire community. Applicants are required to make their projects accessible to all individuals and hold their events at accessible sites.
  2. The Arts Education DEC Grant provides financial and technical assistance to support arts education projects in K-12 public schools, publicly funded charter school settings, and after-school programs, including virtual. Funds may support arts education projects that take place as part of the school day and/or in after-school settings for youth.

Arts must be the primary driving force of project requests.

This funding is intended to expand, promote, and increase arts and cultural programming at the local level including, but not limited to, projects in the following areas: Dance, Design Arts, Folk Arts, Humanities, Literature/Poetry, Media (film, video, radio), Multi-Disciplinary, Music, Opera/Musical Theater, Photography, Skilled Crafts, Textile Arts, Theater, and Visual Arts.

For goals of the Community Arts DEC Grants and of the Arts Education DEC Grants, see For Arts Education DEC project requirements, see

For Arts Education DEC project requirements, see

For allowable expenses, see

For funding priorities, see

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 175320

Estimated Size of Grant:

Requests can be made between $500 and $5,000.

Term of Contract:

The grants are awarded for specific projects occurring between January 1, 2021 and December 31, 2021.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Eligible applications must meet the following requirements:

- Projects have, as their core, an arts-based or cultural activity.
- All programs must take place in Erie or Niagara County.
- Your program must take place in the same county in which you reside/are physically located.
- Applicants must be an established nonprofit or 501c3 organization, a local government municipality, tribal organization, an individual representing a collective group, or an individual artist legally located in Erie or Niagara County.
- An individual artist or collective may apply if working in partnership with a community-based nonprofit organization that meets the above eligibility. In addition:
(1) You must attach a letter of commitment from the partner organization that confirms the partnership with the applicant and outlines the scope of the partnership, including each partner’s investment or contribution (in-kind and/or cash) toward the proposed project.
(2) The applicant and the partner organization must both be based in the same county the event is taking place - either Erie or Niagara County.
- Projects must be open and accessible to the public.

The following are not eligible to apply:

- Programs taking place outside of Erie or Niagara counties.
- Activities and programs which cannot be completed between January 1, 2021 and December 31, 2021.
- Direct applicants of New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) or Regional Economic Development Council (RED-C) regardless of funding status.
- Organizations or projects involving partners or fiscal sponsors that have applied to the NYSCA for funding for the 2021 fiscal year, regardless of funding status.*
- Public universities and colleges; and public, private, or parochial schools, and their components (PTAs, etc.).
- New York State agencies and departments (including SUNY schools).
- Individuals or collectives that do not have an eligible sponsor or partner organization.
- Individual artists who are under the age of eighteen (18).
- Previously funded DEC recipients that have failed to provide final reports, use proper acknowledgment, or have failed to comply with previous contract terms.
- Non-incorporated chapters of organizations whose “parent” organization is not located in Erie or Niagara counties.
- Arts Services Inc., its employees, or board members.

*Considerations for direct NYSCA applicants acting as partners to a proposed DEC program
A DEC applicant may hire or pay a NYSCA applicant for services and direct costs associated with use of a venue. However:
- The NYSCA applicant cannot handle box office or ticketing.
- The NYSCA applicant cannot profit or benefit from the DEC program (i.e. ticket sales, donations, etc.).
- The DEC program cannot be advertised as part of the NYSCA applicant’s regular season/programming, but may be included on the NYSCA applicant’s website and marketing as a “NYSCA DEC-supported project.”

For ineligible expenses, see

Pre-proposal Conference:

Attendance at one of the information sessions is mandatory for all 2021 DEC applicants regardless of whether or not you have applied for this fund in the past.

At the grant information sessions, ASI’s Grants and Programming Director will review the guidelines and offer grant-writing tips and best practices to help you or your organization prepare your DEC application. ASI also offers technical assistance and professional development opportunities on a year-round basis that often cover a variety of grants-related topics.

The majority of information sessions will be held virtually. If you lack access to Internet or the technology required to attend a virtual session, please contact Holly Grant.

Details on 2021 DEC Information Sessions coming soon on the URL.

Pre-Application Information:

Applications for 2021 funding will be due on December 11, 2020. All applicants must attend an information session to learn about changes and update to the fund due to COVID. Applications from applicants who did not attend one of the information sessions will not be considered. Applicants will be notified of their award status in early February 2021.

Important Deadlines:

- Applications Open: September 21, 2020
- Information Sessions: Fall 2020
- Draft for Draft Review: November 18, 2020, at noon
- Final Application Due: December 11, 2020 at 11:59 pm
- Funding Announcements: February 2021

All applications must be completed through the online grant portal. If you have applied for a grant through ASI in the past, do not create a new account in the grants portal. If you’ve forgotten your login information, please email Holly Grant.

A draft application can be submitted by Wednesday, November 18, 2020 (12:00pm) for staff review and feedback before submitting a final application.

Applicants may submit up to three (3) project requests in any combination of DEC categories (Community Arts, Arts Education, or Individual Artist Commission) as long as the total requested is no more than $5,000. Fiscally sponsored requests are exempt from the three (3) request limit. Each project requires the submission of a separate, completed application through the grants portal by the application deadline.

With repeat applicants, priority will be given to those applicants who submit requests for new initiatives or existing ones that demonstrate growth, artistic expansion, and support of underserved communities.

Grants are not intended to cover the complete cost of the proposed project. DEC grant requests also should not exceed more than 50% of the proposed project budget or program’s expenses. Matching funds and other revenue from the applicant are required. This match can consist of a combination of cash and in-kind revenue.

See the Application Checklist here:

DEC Grant Online Tutorial Video:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

To apply online:

For assistance and questions, please contact:

Holly Grant, Grants & Programming Director
716.833.3004 x512

Arts Services Initiative of Western New York
2495 Main Street, Suite 422
Buffalo, NY 14214

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: New York: Erie and Niagara Counties

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