Creative Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program

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 equaling $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 Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI).

Successful applicants to the CEA program:
  • Consistently access resources, including consulting, accelerator programs, skill building workshops, etc.
  • Have (and use) a relevant business plan
  • Understand their target market, to some extent
  • Can demonstrate their business' growth over time
  • Create a strategic plan for CEA funds that will grow their business, audience, and/or revenues
  • Can demonstrate matching funds if plan exceeds the $2,000 grant amount

*Erie Arts & Culture will be accepting applications from May 1 - May 31. All applicants will be notified of funding decisions by July 30. Join us over Zoom for an info session on Tuesday, April 18th at 7pm. Register here!


CEAP June 6IG3 v3

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:

  • Communication & marketing
  • Architecture
  • Visual arts & crafts
  • Design - product, interior, graphic & fashion
  • Digital and analog media - film, television, web & radio
  • Digital games
  • The performing arts & live entertainment
  • Publishing

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.

Program Overview

Meet featured Creative Entrepreneur, André Jones.

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.

Eligibility and Guidelines

This grant program offers $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:

  • At least 18 years of age and has been a resident of Pennsylvania for at least twelve months preceding the CEAP application
  • The applicant is a creative entrepreneur intending to form or operate an eligible creative business as defined in the Creative Entrepreneur Accelerator Program (CEAP) Guidelines
  • Creative entrepreneurs are eligible to apply for the Creative Entrepreneurs Accelerator Program once every three years.

  • Non-profit organizations are not eligible for funds through this program.

  • Be a creative entrepreneur intending to form a business or operating a business in Pennsylvania within one or more of the following creative industry areas:
    1. Marketing – Advertising and marketing agencies and professionals
    2. Architecture – Architecture firms and architects
    3. Visual Arts & Crafts – Galleries, artists, artisans, and makers
    4. Design – Product, interior, graphic, and fashion design firms and designers
    5. Film & Media – Film, video, animation, television, and radio businesses
    6. Digital Games – Companies, programmers, and individuals producing games
    7. Music & Entertainment – Producers, venues, musicians, and performers
    8. Publishing – Print or electronic businesses and content creators, editors, and writers

 View the Guidelines here

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 Wilds Cooperative of Pennsylvania and the Small Business Development Centers at Gannon University, PennWest Clarion, and University of Pittsburgh.

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)

Interested applicants must connect with a referral partner by May 10th to be considered for the current grant cycle.

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)

Example of a redacted Budget Planning Document (pdf)

Referral Contacts

Gannon University SBDC

Margaret Horne, Director
900 State Street, Suite 100
Erie, PA 16501
P: 814-871-7713
[email protected]


Gannon University SBDC - Erie, Crawford, Mercer Counties

Maggie Horne, Director


[email protected]


Wilds Cooperative of PA - Warren County

LaKeshia Knarr, Director, Center for Entrepreneurship

800-895-1376 x 408

[email protected]


PennWest Clarion SBDC - Venango County

Amy Keth, Assistant Director


[email protected]


University of Pittsburgh SBDC - Lawrence County

Raymond Vargo, Director


[email protected]


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.

Erie Arts & Culture will be accepting applications through Submittable from May 1 - May 31.

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


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!