Fund Guidelines


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The Covid-19 Arts Working Group (CAWG), a collaboration of 16 foundations and an anonymous private donor in the Pittsburgh metro area, announces the Arts I Equity I Reimagined Fund, in response to the unprecedented and ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the region’s arts and cultural sector. These funding priorities have been shaped by research and conversations with local arts and culture organizations. One of the first steps taken by the group was to engage the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council (GPAC) to conduct a survey of the field at the outset of the crisis. Additionally, CAWG undertook an extensive review of research and best practices, focused on the arts’ response to the pandemic, coming in from around the country, and an extended analysis of critical needs in this region, with a particular eye towards identifying gaps in service to arts organizations that serve people of color, LGBTQIA+, and independent artist populations.


This fund is intended to address the research and findings, to foster collective action and identify creative solutions to operating challenges as nonprofit arts organizations navigate these uncertain times. While the fund is open to all arts and cultural organizations, in recognition of long-standing disparities in funding, it will prioritize small to medium-sized arts and culture organizations and those who serve or are led by historically marginalized communities in southwestern Pennsylvania, whether they be urban or rural in location. This fund is in addition to continuing arts grantmaking undertaken by individual foundations.


The foundation community acknowledges that it does not possess the resources to return the cultural sector to its former position, maintain the status quo or to respond to the individual needs of every organization. Organizations, funders, and the sector as a whole, will have to think differently about how they function moving forward in order to be successful in a completely changed environment. By coming together, the participating foundations hope this fund will support new business models, creative collaborations, and artistic approaches that will sustain, strengthen and better equip the arts sector to reimagine how it functions. This is especially important now, and in light of the persistent disparities and challenges the pandemic has revealed. Through this fund, the CAWG seeks to use this moment as an opportunity to support the transition of the arts sector from the status quo to one that is more sustainable and equitable over the long term.  


A complete copy of the Guiding Principles is attached at the end of this announcement. In summary, CAWG members have agreed to:

  • Address and Prioritize Change with Mutual Accountability
  • Be Action-Oriented and Transparent
  • Support a Sustaining and Equitable Arts Ecology
  • Envision a Strong and Healthy Arts Community
  • Holistically Support the Arts Community

The current list of collaborating organizations includes the Allegheny Regional Asset District, Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, The Benter Foundation, The Buhl Foundation, Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, The Community Foundation of Westmoreland County, Fayette County Community Foundation, The Fine Foundation, The Grable Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, Henry L. Hillman Foundation, The McCune Foundation, Richard King Mellon Foundation, Opportunity Fund, and The Pittsburgh Foundation and an anonymous private donor. CAWG remains open to additional public, private, and corporate foundations that wish to participate or learn more. Interested foundation representatives should email or call (412) 219-6584.

Funding and Priorities

There are two unique funding opportunities: 1) Capacity Building Assistance being managed by PACE (Program to Aid Citizen Enterprise); and, 2) Collective Action for Re-Imagining being managed by New Sun Rising (NSR).

Organizations and collectives can apply for both Capacity Building Assistance and also be part of a Collective Action for Re-Imagining proposal.

Information Sessions: There are several free, live information sessions that are open to any potential applicant and will provide a space where specific questions get answered right away in real time. Potential applicants may also submit questions for a quick response by email to

Live Info Sessions*

Session #1 – Thursday, Aug. 20, 9:00 a.m.**

Session #2 – Monday, Aug. 24, 3:00 p.m.

Session #3 – Tuesday, Aug. 26, 9:00 a.m.

Session #4 – TDC/Barr Foundation Webinar on Scenario Planning. Time and date TBD.


*Info sessions will be hosted via Zoom and made available for replay at this website.

**The August 20 session is hosted by The Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, Community Foundation of Fayette County, and The Community Foundation of Westmoreland County, and will address unique questions from potential applicants in rural and suburban counties. However, participants from any southwestern Pennsylvania location are welcome at any of the live sessions.

Eligibility:  Arts I Equity I Reimagined grants will support arts and cultural organizations located in any of the following Pennsylvania counties: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Somerset, Washington, and Westmoreland. All 501(c)3 arts organizations, artist-driven projects, and unincorporated arts collectives are eligible to apply. Non-501(c)3 projects and collectives may use a fiscal sponsor to apply (assistance to find and secure a fiscal sponsor is available as part of this program).

Organizations of all budget sizes are eligible to apply to Collective Action for Re-Imagining. For Capacity Building Assistance, organizations with annual budgets of $2.5 million or less are eligible to apply.

As noted in the Guiding Principles, these grant programs will prioritize small to medium-sized arts organizations and those who serve or are led by historically-marginalized communities in southwestern Pennsylvania, whether they be urban or rural in location. This also includes those that may not have had traditional access to the foundation community, have not been able to access current sources of emergency funding, and do not have other supporting infrastructure such as a strong donor base, development staff, and other fundamental organizational supports.

Funding: The collaborating funders have collectively committed over $3.5 million to date and continue to fundraise for the effort.  

Timing: Each of the two funding opportunities has its own timeline and deadlines; please consult those sections of these guidelines for details. The Arts I Equity I Reimagined program will continue through June 30, 2021, and will be reassessed at that time.  

Arts I Equity I Reimagined Funding Programs

1. Capacity Building Assistance

PACE (Program to Aid Citizen Enterprise) will provide capacity building assistance designed to help organizations and collectives move forward in a changed environment. This program will accept applications on an ongoing basis and will quickly respond to requests to help nonprofits gain the skills or concrete strategies needed to address COVID-19 related challenges.

PACE is uniquely positioned to assist the CAWG in its efforts due to its long history of commitment to supporting increased organizational capacity of community-based nonprofit organizations serving African American and other marginalized communities. Additionally, several staff members have strong arts experience including heading the technical assistance program and then the full agency of the regional arts council of Houston and Harris County, as an arts consultant serving individual organizations and city government and as a sub-consultant to arts consulting firms.

Projects must be related to a COVID-19 issue, and can be, but are not limited to:

  • Short-term action plans
  • Financial planning, scenario development
  • Targeted marketing or fundraising plans related to the effects of the pandemic
  • Shared services or planning for mergers
  • Re-emerging plans
  • Utilizing technology to adapt to new management operations or modes of program delivery
  • Development/fundraising assistance
  • A range of human resource assistance
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion planning and anti-racism training
  • Board support
  • Executive coaching

A more comprehensive list of project ideas can be found in the application information at the PACE website.

Consultants: PACE has a pool of qualified and experienced consultants to help organizations with their COVID-19 related short-term and mid-term projects. Applicants may also propose working with a consultant they have already identified, and that consultant will be vetted by PACE as part of the review process. If PACE does not offer the technical assistance services specifically needed, they will work with the applicant to refer them to another source.

Process: PACE will help review the applicant’s situation, assist in finding the right consultant, provide a list of consultants, local and national, to interview, including those suggested by the applicant. PACE will review the scope, timetable, and budget from the selected consultant, and assist during the project as needed. These projects are designed to be focused, and to help quickly chart an appropriate course through the pandemic. A brief follow-up report will be required at the end of the project, accompanied by a copy of the report from the consultant.

Application: A complete application can be found at

Application Deadlines:  Applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis with the deadline being 4:00 p.m. on the first Friday of each month, beginning September 4, 2020. Approval and denials will be communicated to the applicant within 10 business days with payments being made within the next 10 business days.

Grants and Grant Amounts: Grants can range in size from $1,000 to $25,000. Applications will be prioritized based on demand and funds available.

Implementation Assistance: Pending available funds, an additional round of support for implementation of strategies developed during the first grant phase may be considered, especially if it assists the group in increasing its capacity for the longer term.

Eligibility: All 501(c)3 arts organizations, artist-driven projects, and unincorporated arts collectives with budgets less than $2.5 million located within the designated counties are eligible to apply. Non-501(c)3 projects and collectives may use a fiscal sponsor to apply (assistance to find and secure a fiscal sponsor is available as part of this program).

Collective Action for Re-Imagining: Applicants to this program are also eligible to apply for support in the Collective Action for Re-Imagining program, outlined below.

Contact PACE: All organizations are encouraged to speak with a PACE staff prior to applying.  

Please contact: Maurice Speaks at 412-562-0290 X 215, for more information.

2. Collective Action for Re-imagining

Collaborations, partnerships or networks comprised of three or more 501(c)3 arts organizations, artist-driven projects, and/or unincorporated arts collectives of any budget size are eligible to apply. Managed by New Sun Rising (NSR), this program seeks ideas that employ new and innovative ways of working together to address the dramatic shifts that have been instigated by the COVID-19 crisis, and that also address opportunities and solutions to reposition the sector for a more sustainable and equitable future. New Sun Rising strengthens nonprofits, social enterprises, and collaborations that create economic opportunity, solve social challenges, and promote community vibrancy, making them uniquely positioned to help facilitate this new funding opportunity.

The program will be responsive to those projects that the arts sector believes are the most creative and effective ways to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Examples of project ideas are:

  • Programs that utilize collective action to strengthen the sector including those proposals that employ collaboration, shared functions, restructuring, changes in business models, operating systems, program realignment, partnerships, and other needs you identify as necessary for sustaining a strong, healthy, and equitable arts ecology over the long-term.
  • Joint Advocacy and Communication activities such as information about the effect of the pandemic on artists and cultural organizations, and the importance of the arts in society, especially during a time of crisis. Supported projects can include broadly focused community-wide campaigns, and smaller micro-focused campaigns targeted toward a community or neighborhood, specific to an art form, or constituent group with specific messaging of importance to them.
  • Proposals that address issues of equity and inclusion, and that seek to counteract overt and institutional racism.
  • Policy recommendations to strengthen the sector; and actions that arts supporters, the public and government, can take to maintain the sector during and after the crisis. This includes a focus on solutions that promote a healthy, robust re-emergence of the arts sector in the near term, and longer-term policy actions to strengthen the sector.
  • Public policy options to enhance the sector’s access to public resources now, and its overall strength in the future.
  • The pandemic has exposed weaknesses in the way the arts and culture systems support its workforce, and these workers have been particularly hard hit – many are low-wage workers, lack health insurance, and are part of the “gig” economy. Addressing long-term and systemic solutions to the health and welfare of workforce needs are of interest. Projects should consider the needs of all facets of the workforce: management, creative, independent artists, teaching artists, arts administrators, and the support staff that assist them and maintain arts facilities.
  • Overall, long-term restructuring is a goal, and some shorter-term projects may lead to the development of long-term changes, expanded relationships, and inclusion of other groups and collectives not typically able to access funding pools.
  • Projects that promote new and creative ways of working together, utilizing existing strengths, and avoiding duplication of competing solutions or services.

Grants and Grant Amounts: There are no pre-determined grant sizes or number of grants to be awarded; rather the needs of the project and how it creatively and effectively addresses COVID-19 related collective actions will be evaluated. Effective collective action proposals will take time to develop, or may be an outcome of a technical assistance consultancy (though not required), and applicants are encouraged to take sufficient planning time. Funds will be reserved to respond to requests throughout the entire funding year.

Eligibility: Collaborations, consortia, partnerships, networks, and recently aligned collectives are all eligible. Groups can be comprised of three or more 501(c)3 arts organizations, artist-driven projects, and/or unincorporated arts collectives. One member will be designated the lead and if not a 501(c)3, you are able to use a fiscal sponsor. There is no budget ceiling for members of collectives, but in accordance with the Guiding Principles, small and midsized arts organizations and artist’s collectives serving or reflecting diverse communities in their staff and/or leadership will have funding priority. Applications will be prioritized based on demand and funds available.

Capacity Building Program: Collectives or individual members of collectives are also eligible to apply for grants in the Capacity Building Assistance category (see description above).

Application Deadlines: There are four proposal deadlines spread throughout the year: September 17, 2020; November 23, 2020; February 11, 2021 (tentative); and, May 27, 2021 (tentative). Decisions will be announced within four weeks after the proposal deadline.   

Review Process: A review panel composed of foundation staff and community partners will review all submitted proposals. Staff and consultants may conduct follow-up conversations with groups whose ideas best align with the priorities listed above. Conversations may result in (1) project grant funding, (2) further development of the idea working with staff, or (3) a declination. Decisions will be determined by volume of proposals and proposal quality in addressing the priorities. Please see evaluation rubric included in the complete application materials at the NSR website.

Proposal Development: Technical Assistance to help you develop your proposal for Collective Action for Re-Imagining is available through New Sun Rising. Please contact Daniel Stiker at 412.219.6584 or

Submission Requirements: Submit program narrative at this link with a clear and descriptive estimated budget, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) as described, and a 501(c)3 letter or fiscal sponsor agreement. Please make sure to address the following in your narrative:

  1. Mission of the Collective
  2. The Common Need
  3. Critical Long-term Success Factors or Impacts
  4. Guiding Principles of the Collective
  5. Assessment of Project Compared to Evaluation Rubric (provided with application materials at NSR website)

Submit a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by all members that identifies the lead organization, all the partners in the group, and explains how they are organized, make decisions, and assign responsibilities to implement their projects. Refer to the Collective Impact document and the MOU template found at NSR website.   

We understand that in order to address the current crisis with collective action ideas that are new, different and innovative, some of these projects will have a degree of “works in progress.” Submit a proposal that to the best of your knowledge and ability describes the project and its objectives.  

For the complete application with instructions, please go to