12 Reasons to support Erie Arts & Culture During Erie Gives

Tuesday Jul 21st, 2020

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To support Erie Arts & Culture during Erie Gives


When discussing who we are, we often lead with history and geography - how long we’ve been around (we were founded in 1960 if you’re curious) and the region we serve (six counties in Northwestern Pennsylvania if you didn’t know). Though that information is true, it’s also sterile and doesn’t entirely paint a representative picture of what we do and why we do it. And it certainly doesn’t communicate the importance nor the impact of our work. 

In simplified terms, Erie Arts & Culture works to ensure that culture and creativity are woven into the fabric of everyday life in our region. Our investments translate into every resident having opportunities to participate in, and benefit from, the arts and humanities - whether socially, educationally, or economically. We are passionate about our work because the arts and humanities help us as people become more creative, self aware, empathetic, and socially responsible. 

Though we’ve been around for 60 years, many in the region aren’t familiar with Erie Arts & Culture. That’s because the majority of our work has traditionally occurred behind the scenes of our sector (we’ve also gone through several name changes). We aren’t like a performing arts organization where we produce live experiences. Similarly, we don’t present art exhibitions like a visual arts organization. Instead, we are an agency that provides programs and services that benefit the organizations and individuals that compose the cultural and creative sector so that in return they are able to better serve residents and visitors of our region. 

With that in mind, leading up to Erie Gives 2020, we wanted to share with you some of our work as an agency and the accomplishments we’ve achieved this year. 


We administer a grantmaking program for the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) in six counties. This year, 36 organizations in Erie County, ranging from arts organizations like DramaShop to human service organizations such as the Erie City Mission, received grants from us to support their arts-based projects and programs. These grants totaled more than $70,000 in financial support.




We manage the Erie Arts Endowment, which is composed of 12 sub funds totalling approximately $3.57 million. Every year, we administer project grants to organizations in Erie County from the interest earned through the Erie Arts Endowment. This year, 33 organizations received grants from us to support arts-based projects. These grants totaled more than $68,000 in financial support.


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We fund and advocate for arts in lifelong learning. We administer an arts in education program for the PCA in six counties. We train regional artists to work as teaching artists and then place them in residence with schools or social service organizations. Artistic disciplines are used to either help teach core curriculum subjects or meet community objectives. During the 2019-2020 academic year, we secured 30 teaching artist residencies that serve individuals ranging from school age to senior citizen. 17 of those residencies have been postponed as a result of COVID-19 and will resume in the fall and winter of 2020.


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We work to preserve and promote diverse cultures. Much of this work involves building relationships with Erie’s immigrant and refugee communities. We administer a folk and traditional arts apprenticeship program for the PCA in six counties. Apprenticeships take place over a one-year period and are a partnership between a master artist and a qualified apprentice, with each partnership receiving an apprenticeship grant. Master artists pass down their in-depth understanding of artistic techniques and cultural context. In 2019-2020, we administered three folk and traditional apprenticeships, preserving cultural traditions representing Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.


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We offer technical assistance to the region’s creative and cultural professionals, including folk and traditional artists who may be adapting to new economic systems and technology. In 2020, we worked with 22 immigrant and former refugee artists representing 14 countries of origin, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Palestine, Guinea, Bosnia, South Sudan, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Sierra Leone, Lebanon, Mexico, Nepal, and Bhutan. In 2019, we secured $37,500 in grant funding from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, one of only 15 grants awarded nationally, to expand the skills of artists from Muslim cultures so that they can be in control of their own narratives, while also expanding the public’s awareness and understanding of the diversity of art forms and cultures within Erie’s Muslim diaspora. To support our work to preserve and promote diverse cultures, we also provided advice and assistance to 14 different organizations and 8 schools about presenting folk and traditional arts.


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Since 1963, we administer an annual United Arts Fund, which provides unrestricted financial support to our Cultural Service Partners. The 2019 fund drive raised over $678,000. These funds benefited Erie Arts & Culture, the Erie County Historical Society, the Erie Playhouse, the Erie Philharmonic, the expERIEnce Children’s Museum, and the Flagship Niagara League. Nearly 800 donors were engaged through the 2019 fund drive.


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We believe that creative and cultural professionals play a central role in developing vibrant and healthy communities and neighborhoods when they are provided with access to professional development, resources, and opportunities. To support this belief, in 2020, we secured $25,000 in funding to launch the PRO Network, through which we dismantle barriers and provide meaningful resources and training for creative and cultural professionals in NW PA. Every Monday, we post regional and national paid opportunities that artists in our region are eligible to apply for. This spring and summer, we’ve already hosted six educational webinars covering topics from intellectual property within the creative sector, budgeting and banking essentials for artists and gig workers, adapting teaching and performative experiences to virtual platforms, and building artist brands.


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We launched the Emergency Financial Assistance Fund in response to COVID-19, knowing that the pandemic had a tremendous negative impact on creative and cultural professionals, especially those who are gig workers. In March, we mobilized quickly to launch the fund with $39,000. To date, we’ve provided $33,400 in financial support to more than 115 applicants, with awards ranging from $150 to assist with groceries to $500 to assist with rent.


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We facilitate the CHROMA Guild to advance opportunities and access to resources for creative and cultural professionals of color in NW PA. CHROMA serves as a means to connect and empower artists, curators, critics, producers, venue owners, promoters, and archivists who value culture and creativity in all its forms. The guild revolves around four core actions, 1) Networking, 2) Professional Development and Continued Education, 3) Advocacy, and 4) Presentation of Work.


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In 2020, we secured $100,000 in funding to launch the Creating with Community Artist Residency Program. Through this program, 14 artists have been paired together in teams of two and assigned to neighborhoods in Erie’s urban core. Artist teams are designing residency projects that are a direct response to the needs of the community living and working in the neighborhoods they are serving. Eight of the artists participating in this program identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, or Person of Color). This was the first time that 11 of the artists participating in this program received a paid opportunity from Erie Arts & Culture. Four of the artists participating in this program have gone on to apply to become a rostered teaching artist with Erie Arts & Culture and the PCA.


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In 2020, we secured $32,000 in funding to launch a visiting artist residency program. Through this program, Erie Arts & Culture will host seven visiting artists who represent a rising voice in the contemporary arts community. Residencies vary in length, with most ranging between three and four weeks. While in residence, visiting artists create new bodies of work, engage with Erie’s community, collaborate with Erie-based artists and cultural organizations, and learn more about Erie’s industries.


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In 2016, Erie Arts & Culture committed to making a greater investment in the artists living and working in Erie County by establishing the annual Artist Fellowship program. Through this program, artists are able to access unrestricted funding that can be used to support their pursuit of artistic development and growth. Our fellowship program includes three career categories: Emerging ($2,000 cash award), Mid-Career ($3,500 cash award), and Established ($5,500 cash award). Applications are now being received for the 2020 fellowship program. The deadline to apply is August 21, 2020.


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August 11 for online donations
- or - 
Make a check today and mail it to our office.


You may mail checks in advance to Erie Arts & Culture with Erie Gives in the memo line.
Our address is: 23 West 10th Street, Erie, PA 16501.

We have worked at a fast pace for the last two years and your support helps ensure that we can continue our work in the region.

Erie Arts & Culture works diligently to ensure that the individuals and organizations that compose our sector are positioned to thrive. We are committed to improving the lives of our region’s residents by leveraging the power of the arts and humanities to address the vital needs and interests of Erie and NW PA. To be positioned to best respond to the needs of our community, we are asking that you make a meaningful gift to Erie Arts & Culture as part of Erie Gives 2020. 

Visit the Erie Gives website


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