Erie Arts and Culture is partnering with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts to help creative entrepreneurs and their businesses. The Creative Entrepreneur Accelerator Program (CEAP) matches eligible creative entrepreneurs with free local small business consulting services and financial resources up to $2,000.
Fifty-one percent of the funds available for distribution in this program will be reserved for Black, indigenous, or persons of color (BIPOC), or individuals residing in communities identified by the Small Business Administration’s low-income communities map.
*Due to high demand, CEAP funding for 2022-2023 has been dispersed. The 2023-2024 application portal will open on October 1.
The creative sector refers to a range of economic activities that are concerned with the generation or distribution of knowledge, information, creativity, and innovation, which is also often referred to as the creative industries.
Creative industries include:
A creative entrepreneur is an individual who is in the process of creating or has created a new business representing one or more of the creative industries.
André is a freelance graphic designer turned apparel designer. His athletic lifestyle is carefully counterbalanced by his lax demeanor. Such contrast is made evident through André’s creative process. He believes the creative process is a boundless journey, but he pursued that journey with the objective of finding a practical solution to complex challenges. André is the owner of Rabbit 3, a streetwear brand. Pieces from his collection have been worn by high-profile celebrities, including Lizzo, Young Dolph, Maliibu Miitch, Lil’ Nas X, and celebrity stylist Shelby Swain. R3’s style is a uniquely poetic and adventurous, exploring the limits between artistry, design, and activism. The brand draws from the still of nature as well as the hustle and bustle of the inner city, vibrant with color, texture, and messaging.
This grant program offers $500 to $2,000 in support of creative entrepreneurs starting a business or currently operating a micro-business with gross revenue less than $200,000 in Crawford, Erie, Lawrence, Mercer, Venango, and Warren counties.
Eligible applicants must be:
Application and Referral Process
Step 1: Referral Coordinator Business Plan Consultation
Before applying, all applicants must first have a consultation and business plan review with a local small business development organization, known as a Referral Coordinator. The Referral Coordinators will help with the logistics of starting a business including the development of a business plan and growth strategies.
Referral Coordinators for Erie Arts & Culture include Bridgeway Capital and the Small Business Development Centers at Gannon University and Clarion University. Business consultation services will be provided at no cost to prospective applicants, and Referral Coordinator services are available on an ongoing basis. Please be sure to review the CEAP Grant Guidelines to ensure applicant eligibility prior to reaching out to a Referral Coordinator.
Please present your Business Plan an Budget at the time of your inquiry. A business planning template and budget template can be downloaded below. A good business plan communicates your objectives and goals.
Download the Business Planning Document here (pdf)
Download the Budget Planning Document here (excel)
We encourage applicants to connect with Referral Coordinators at least two weeks prior to each application round's closing date. This timing is to ensure the Referral Coordinator is able to effectively review your business plan and meet one-on-one with the applicant prior to the application round deadline. Also, please allow up to a week to receive a response from Referral Coordinators.
Example of a redacted Business Planning Document (pdf)
Gannon University SBDC
Margaret Horne, Director
900 State Street, Suite 100
Erie, PA 16501
Katie Johnson, Associate Director, Creative Business Accelerator
707 Grant St, Ste 1920
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
P. 412.201.2450 F. 412.201.2451
Step 2: Application
Upon receiving an approved referral form from a designated Referral Coordinator, applicants may submit application materials through the Arts Council website.
Submissions must include the creative entrepreneur’s application form, approved referral form, and business plan, including a budget outlining expected project expenses for the funding year. Upon receipt of an eligible and complete application, the Arts Council will review your application. If approved, the Arts Council will enter into a grant award agreement with the creative entrepreneur and process the grant payment.
For details on how to apply, and to access a business plan template, please download the full grant guidelines and the referral form below.
Important Note: Following the mandatory consultation with an approved Referral Coordinator, they will determine if your project is appropriate to move forward with a formal application to the Creative Entrepreneur Accelerator program. Review the criteria for approval in the grant guidelines. Referral of a creative entrepreneur by a Referral Coordinator does not guarantee that a grant will be made.
Please reach out to Casey Corritore, Program Officer of Capacity Building, with any questions. [email protected] | 814-452-3427 x 108