12 Reasons to support Erie Arts & Culture During Erie Gives 2021

Friday Jul 30th, 2021

12 reasons blog


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 leverages the transformational power of the arts and humanities to address the vital needs and interests of Erie and Northwestern Pennsylvania. We  weave culture and creativity 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. 

Our four primary roles as a regional arts agency include:

  • Serving as a capacity builder of the individuals and organizations that comprise the creative and cultural sector.
  • Advocating for and funding opportunities for arts in lifelong learning.
  • Preserving and promoting the diverse cultures that represent our communities.
  • Facilitating people and place-based development initiatives.

Through these roles, we:

  • Provide tools, resources, and financial support to individuals and organizations that specifically utilize the arts and humanities as a platform to engage the broader community.
  • Grow the capacity of our sector to ensure extraordinary creative and cultural experiences.
  • Create an environment in which artists and creative industries, representing a wide variety of disciplines, can thrive.
  • Fund opportunities for lifelong learning through the arts and humanities experiences in classrooms, institutions, and community spaces.
  • Consult on how creativity and culture can be a component in any development or redevelopment project.
  • Celebrate Erie's collective identity by preserving and promoting the region's cultural diversity.

With that in mind, leading up to Erie Gives 2021, we wanted to share with you some of our work as an agency and the accomplishments we’ve achieved this past year. 


We administer a grantmaking program for the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) in six counties. This year, 23 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.


12 reasons with copyPCA


We manage the Erie Arts Endowment, which is composed of 12 sub funds totaling approximately $4.5 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.


12 reasons with copyGrants


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 2020-2021 academic year, we secured 23 teaching artist residencies that serve individuals ranging from school age to senior citizen.


12 reasons with copyArts in Lifelong Learning


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. Apprenticeship grants take place over a one-year period and fund a partnership between a master artist who passes down their artistic technique and cultural context to a qualified apprentice. In 2020-2021 we administered three folk and traditional apprenticeships, preserving pinata, clothing design, and gospel music traditions representing artists from Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo and Mexico. We empowered three Muslim artists to each work with a different immigrant-owned market to beautify their facades.


12 reasons with copyPDC


We offer technical assistance to the region’s creative and cultural professionals, including traditional artists adapting to new economic systems and technology. In 2020, we worked with 20 immigrant and former refugee artists representing 13 countries of origin, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Palestine, Guinea, Bosnia, South Sudan, Sudan, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Sierra Leone, Mexico, and Nepal/Bhutan. We utilized 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 16 different organizations and nine schools and six individuals about presenting folk and traditional arts.


12 reasons with copyDoris Duke


Since 1963, we administered an annual United Arts Fund. The 2020 fund drive raised over $796,974.27. 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. These funds also help support our Ignite Arts Grant Program. 1,555 donors were engaged through the 2020 fund drive, of which 559 were first time donors.


12 reasons with copyUAF


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 from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to launch the PRO Network, through which we dismantle barriers and provide meaningful resources and training for creative and cultural professionals in NW PA. During Erie Gives 2020, we received a very generous gift of $89,000, which allowed us to create an endowment to support the PRO Network in perpetuity. 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.


12 reasons with copyPRO NETWORK


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. To date, we’ve provided $36,150 in financial support to more than 123 applicants, with awards ranging from $150 to assist with groceries to $500 to assist with rent.


12 reasons with copyEFA


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.


12 reasons with copyCHROMA


In 2020, we secured $100,000 to continue the Creating with Community Artist Residency Program. Through this program, 12 artists have been paired together in teams of two and and are working in collaboration with the City of Erie and neighborhood partners to design and implement creative projects that support recommendations from the Active Erie multi-modal transportation plan. Six of the artists participating in this program identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, or Person of Color). This was the first time that Eight of the artists participating in this program received a paid opportunity from Erie Arts & Culture. One of the artists participating in this program has become a rostered teaching artist with Erie Arts & Culture and the PCA.


12 reasons with copyCWC


In 2020, our funding was renewed to continue and grow our visiting artist residency program. To date, we have hosted 12 artists from around the world who represent rising voices within the contemporary arts community. Another five artists will serve in residence before the conclusion of the calendar year. 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.


12 reasons with copyVisiting Artists


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).


12 reasons with copyfellows
savethedate eg v2

ou may donate online or mail checks in advance to Erie Arts & Culture. If mailing a check, please date your check to August 10 and write Erie Gives in the memo line.
Our mailing address is:

Erie Arts & Culture

PO Box 353

Erie, PA 16512

Erie Arts & Culture is proud of the work we've accomplished since adopting our strategic plan in 2019. On August 10th you can help us sustain our impact in Erie County by participating in Erie Gives. Please make a donation of $25 or more to the Erie Community Foundation and name Erie Arts & Culture as a beneficiary. This year, we aim to raise a minimum of $25,000

Secondary goals include:

  • A minimum donor retention from 2020 of 75%
  • 75 or more new donors
  • A minimum of 20 gifts increased from 2020 by 20% or more
  • 100% Board participation

Your support helps us leverage the power of the arts and humanities to address the vital needs and interests of Erie. Together, we can make a positive impact in our community. Can we count on you to help us achieve our goal on August 10th?

We invite you to read our Quarterly Impact Reports to learn more about how we advance our mission and make a positive impact in Erie County. If you have questions, please email Executive Director Patrick Fisher at [email protected]

Erie Arts & Culture

Keep in touch with the arts!

Join our mailing list to stay in the loop on culture and creativity in the region!