This year, we've been holding a series of seminars here at the Foundation Center focused on the complex world of government funding. If you'd like to read about the earlier installments of our series, we have summaries available for the February 16 event on discretionary funding, the March 16 program on best practices for contract management, and the April 13 event on government audits.
Recently, as part of our Funding for Arts Month programming, we offered a special seminar on October 13, New York City Funding Opportunities for the Arts. The panelists included Kathleen Hughes, assistant commissioner for the Department of Cultural Affairs; Paul L. King, executive director of the Department of Education's Office of Arts & Special Projects; David Ross, executive director of Contracts and Purchasing at the Department of Education; and Jenny Way, assistant director at the Mayor's Office of Contract Services. For anyone who is inexperienced in the ways of accessing arts funding from New York City, here are some highlights:
Where can I find New York City funding for my arts organization or project?
For local funding, there are a number of places you can look:
- Department of Cultural Affairs. This agency specializes in securing public funding for New York City's cultural organizations in all five boroughs. Depending on your needs, there are a few funding areas within DCA for you to explore (the following is borrowed from the agency's web site):
- Program Services Unit: Administers funds supporting 881 groups that provide cultural experiences for the City's residents and visitors.
- Cultural Institutions Unit: Provides operational support (in the form of unrestricted operating grants and the payment of all energy bills - heat, light and power) for major cultural institutions occupying City-owned buildings or land.
- Capital Projects Unit: Provides capital design, construction and equipment funds for those institutions and other cultural groups in City-owned and non City-owned facilities.
In addition to these three areas, DCA can secure federal grants for organizations' small capital projects in low-to-moderate income areas, and can also help arts groups acquire supplies and equipment through its Materials for the Arts Program, which distributes reusable supplies to New York City arts organizations free of charge.
- Local Arts Councils. Each borough has its own arts council, and while these are all technically nonprofit organizations rather than government agencies, the arts councils are tasked with distributing city and state funding to art projects within their boroughs, and can provide a broad variety of additional services to artists and arts organizations as well. The arts councils for New York City are as follows:
- New York State Council on the Arts. This one is not specific to New York City, but if your attempts to get City-related funding do not bear sufficient fruit, you can broaden your search to seek funding from New York State in general. This agency makes about 2,500 grants per year, both to arts organizations and to individual artists with fiscal sponsors.
- Office of Arts & Special Projects, New York City Department of Education. If your work centers on arts education, you can expand your search beyond the Department of Cultural Affairs by seeing what opportunities may be available for funding arts program in NYC public schools. The Office of Arts & Special Projects lists arts education grants whenever available.
You can also find arts education opportunities through the department's Multiple Task Award Contract (MTAC) system, which allows city schools to e-mail proposal requests to a variety of vendors (such as your organization) whenever they require a specific service. You can read about the MTAC process here and see some of their current opportunities here.
For even more information on arts education, you can also have a look at some of the helpful resource guides created by the Department of Education, which offer links to a wide variety of groups that help support specific fields like music, dance, theater, and visual arts.
Is NYC Funding Available for Individual Artists?
In general, funding from agencies like the Department of Cultural Affairs typically goes to arts organizations rather than individual artists. However, if you are fiscally sponsored, you may be eligible to apply for their grants.
Meanwhile, you also have the alternate option of using your local arts council. Arts councils tend to feature re-grant programs, in which the council receives government funds and then distributes them to local organizations or individual artists. Not every grant may be available for individuals, though, so check carefully within the application guidelines.
What's It Like to Apply for City Funding?
Government funding is not for the faint of heart: it involves much paperwork and will require you to learn and understand terms like discretionary funding, VENDEX, OQA, and MOCS. To learn everything about the application process for New York City funding, you'll probably want to read our blog post from earlier this year, Discretionary Funding for Nonprofits: How Does It Work? Also, for assistance along the way, you may want to keep in touch with the Capacity Building & Oversight Unit, which offers training sessions and other types of guidance.
As stated earlier, this October 13 program was part of a series we've been holding throughout 2011 on government funding opportunities within New York City. If you'd like to learn more on this topic, our next free seminar is NYC Government Funding Opportunities for Nonprofits, scheduled for Wednesday, November 16. We hope to see you there!
Foundation Center-New York