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Funding Overview

Process Summary

The Erie County Cultural Funding program provides annual General Operating Support grants to 501c3 arts and cultural organizations within the County. An application must be submitted each year for funding the following year. The funding is for the organization as a whole, not just a particular program/programs. Funds are limited to current operating expenses including salaries, program costs, fringe benefits, rents, utilities, office supplies, and equipment. Grant funds may NOT be used for or applied toward any capital project or improvement, nor as a set-off against accounts receivable. No funds received shall be used for any service provided or activity performed outside Erie County.

Organizations apply in the spring prior to the year funds will be disbursed. Each organization must submit an application on their own behalf (pass-throughs are not allowed) with information on their organizations' finances, governance, and programming. The applications are reviewed by an advisory board (EACAB) and Department of Environment and Planning staff.

The Board and staff make recommendations to the Department's Commissioner regarding the organizations, with actual dollar amounts calculated by staff according to the results of each organizations' review and expected funds available as indicated by County administration. 

Grants awarded are only published in the County Budget. The Proposed Budget ("Draft") is provided by the County Executive in the fall and the Adopted Budget ("Final") is approved by the Legislature in December. 

The Board and staff also send feedback to the applicants, both critical and constructive, in an attempt to strengthen each organization and County-wide arts & cultural industry as a whole. 

Please see the information below for more specific information.

Funding Process Overview

Eligibility Requirements
  • Be located and provide services in Erie County
  • Be a 501(c)(3) organization with tax-exempt status (must be able to provide one (1) year of the required financial documents including record of tax filing, and information as a 501c3 organization)
  • Have at least ONE of the following descriptions of a Cultural Organization as a primary mission of the organization*:
    • An organization that operates on a countywide or recognizable community level, which by the nature of its cultural activities and/or collections, is unique, distinctive and of significant quality
    • An organization that provides visitors with access to programs and displays of the performing, visual, literary and media arts, and/or to exhibits and collections, which preserve and interpret our cultural, natural and scientific heritage
    • An organization that particularly serves the cultural needs of significant segments of the County population, thereby contributing to the quality of life in Buffalo and Erie County

*Organizations such as social and/or multi-service, educational, athletic, after-school, or religious organizations for which cultural activity is not a primary purpose are not eligible.

Additional Requirements
  • New York State Non-Profit Revitalization Act
    The New York State Non-Profit Revitalization Act became effective July 1, 2014. There have been additions and clarifications issued by NYS since then. It is every organization’s responsibility to stay current with the provisions, knowing also that the law is the minimum standard for good governance. As this Act pertains to all 501(c)(3) organizations, Erie County expects all organizations to certify compliance with the NYS Non-Profit Revitalization Act. Organizations should be prepared to provide evidence of compliance with specific components of the Act.
  • Sunshine Provision
    Please be advised that any information you provide may be subject to public discussion as well as disclosure pursuant to New York State Public Officers Law.
  • Pay Equity Certification
    Please be advised that if your Organization is awarded funding, you must sign the Erie County Equal Pay Certification, stating that your organization is in compliance with federal law, including the Equal Pay Act of 1963, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Federal Executive Order 11246 of September 24, 1965 and New York State Labor Law Section 194 (together “ Equal Pay Law”).
  • Recognition for County Grants
    • Please also be advised that if your Organization is awarded funding, you must commit to acknowledging Erie County as a funding source on your organization’s website, marketing materials, and/or other publications. 
    • The size and location of the Seal shall be consistent with the seals or logos of donors, funders, supporters, contributors, investors, friends, etc. at the same level of funding. “Same level of funding” is to be interpreted as funds received by the organization from other donors, funders, supporters, contributors, investors, friends, etc. of equal amounts, or within the same quantile, as funds received from the County of Erie.
    • The County Seal can be found here. If you require a larger file for large scale printing, etc., please contact Mariely Ortiz at (716) 858-1916 or
  • Insurance: 
    • Organization agrees to procure and maintain insurance coverage naming the County as additional insured: Commercial General Liability with a minimum combined single limit of bodily injury and property damage of $1,000,000 per occurrence and general aggregate of $1,000,000. The Organization shall provide a Certificate of Insurance as evidence of such coverage(s) on the County of Erie Standard Insurance Certificate or its equivalent.
    • In the event that the Organization utilizes vehicles, whether owned, leased, hired/borrowed or non-owned, in the performance of the services provided pursuant to this Contract, the Organization agrees to procure and maintain insurance coverage. 
    • The Organization shall further provide evidence of workers compensation insurance on NYS Form C105.2 or U26.3 obtained from insurer. If there are no paid employees of the Organization, the Organization shall provide a “Certificate of Attestation of Exemption from New York State Workers’ Compensation and/or Disability Benefits Insurance Coverage” (Form 5 CE-200) which can be obtained at the State Worker’s Compensation Board website:
    • Please contact Mariely Ortiz at or 716-858-1916 if your organization is eligible to apply but may have difficulty procuring the insurance requirements as outlined above.


  • Alcohol: County funds may be used for the purchase of alcohol if: (1) the organization holds or obtains a license or permit as issued by the New York State Liquor Authority to serve, sell or distribute alcohol prior to the date of the event where alcohol will be served, sold or distributed and (2) the serving, selling or distribution of alcohol occurs during public programming or public events specifically related to the furtherance of the cultural mission or operation of the organization. This excludes internal meetings such as staff, Board or Committee meetings. It is required that all organizations serving, selling and/or distributing alcohol obtain Liquor Liability Insurance for all events.
  • Accounting: County funds must be maintained in a separate account, or the grant recipient must be able to account for the receipt, obligation, and expenditures of all County funds in the account and must be able to report on the use of funds as if the accounts were separate. 
  • Best Practices: All applicants are required to have the following documents regardless of number of employees or budget size:
    • Bylaws
    • Conflict of Interest Policy
    • Whistleblower Policy
  • View a blank contract for all requirements

The process and funding structure for the Cultural Funding program was updated for the 2021 funding cycle. The changes were designed with cultural organizations in mind and seek to make the process more intuitive and less burdensome. Chief among the updates was the restructuring of the funding levels and applications. The short form and long form were eliminated and replaced by  Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 forms. Level 2 and Level 3 are most similar to the old short and long form. Level 1 was new to the 2021 funding cycle. Changes for the 2022 funding cycle included a completely online application (no more fillable PDFs) and a required account registration to access the application. Additional changes include edited questions and considerations due to Covid-19 impacts, as well as three level-specific virtual applicant briefings.

The following table describes the thresholds for each level:

1 ≤$50,000 ≤20%
2 >$50,000 up to $200,000 ≤20%
3 >$200,000 No set limit however, requests greater than 20% will be detrimental to an organization’s score.

* If any of these thresholds are surpassed, you must complete the next level application


The following are the expected reports according to organization budget size. However, if the organization uses a different document as recommended by their financial advisors, they may submit it in lieu of the ones listed below.

Annual Gross Revenue & Support NYS FINANCIAL REPORT
$250,000 Management Prepared or CPA Compiled Financial Statements
>$250,000 - <$1,000,000 Independent CPA Reviewed Financial Statements
≥$1,000,000 Independent CPA Audited Financial Statements

For more information on the applications, visit the Applications page

Follow these instructions before contacting us:

The only way to find out if your organization has been awarded funding for a certain year is through the Erie County Budget process. The Budget Books are available here: The Proposed Budget ("Draft") is provided by the County Executive in the fall and the Adopted Budget ("Final") is approved by the Legislature in December. Arts & Cultural Funding is located under Budget Book A: Operating Funds, under Erie County Department of Environment and Planning.

General Process Dates

Each year may differ slightly.

Please review the Latest News section on the Home page, or our for information before contacting us.

Application Release late February each year
Applicant Briefings Week after application release
Level 1 Forms Due Mid-April each year
Level 2 and 3 Forms Due Late April  each year
Application Review period April - early June each year
EACAB Recommendations to County Executive Late July each year
Feedback letter distribution September each year (varies significantly)
Proposed County Budget release October  each year
Legislative Budget hearings November each year
County Budget Adoption December each year
Contracts Distribution Late February - March each year
Grants Disbursement Summer - Fall each year


Level 1 applications must be received by WEDNESDAY, APRIL 17, 2024.

Level 2 and 3 applications must be received by WEDNESDAY, APRIL 24, 2024.

  • Assistance with the submission will be available until 4:30pm on each due date.
  • Late or incomplete applications will negatively affect your score.
  • Do NOT contact us to confirm your application was received. If your application is submitted correctly through this website, you will receive the following message: "Thank you, your submission has been received." and a confirmation email.
    • If you do not receive these messages, read through this page, follow the directions/instructions, and resubmit. 
    • If your application is incorrect or incomplete, we will contact you as soon as possible to correct it. Please do not resubmit unless otherwise indicated in these instructions or by Mariely Ortiz. Only the first submission will be processed/considered otherwise as we begin processing your application immediately upon receipt.
    • If your organization registered for an account but we do not receive your application, we will contact you to ensure all intended applications are received.