CNY Arts, Inc.


NEA Festival Fund

Applications for the 2023 NEA Festival Fund are now closed.


The NEA Festival Fund program is a regrant program administered by CNY Arts and made possible with funds from the National Endowment for the Arts. The goal of the NEA Festival Fund program is to provide grant funding for arts & cultural festivals with high artistic excellence and artistic merit to nonprofit organizations in Cortland, Herkimer, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, and Oswego Counties.


New Application Deadline: Friday, May 12, 2023 by 12:00 PM (noon)
Application Deadline: Tuesday, May 9, 2023 by 12:00 PM
How to apply
: All applications must be submitted online through 
Who May Apply: 501(c)(3) Nonprofit organizations that host arts & cultural festivals with high artistic excellence & artistic merit in Cortland, Herkimer, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, & Oswego Counties
Award Amount$1,000.00 to $5,000.00
Project PeriodJanuary 1, 2023 to December 31, 2023
Because the eligible project period begins January 1 of this year, awarded agencies will be allowed to back-bill from that date forward.



Eligible Applicants

To be eligible for an NEA Festival Fund Grant, organizations must have:

  • An IRS 501(c)(3) Letter of Determination;
  • A permanent address in Cortland, Herkimer, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, or Oswego County;
  • An annual, seasonal, or otherwise regular arts & cultural festival under its auspices; and
  • A high level of artistic excellence and artistic merit in the festival proposal.

Ineligible Applicants

  • Education institutions, schools, or educational foundations;
  • Radio or television broadcasting networks or stations;
  • Cable communications systems, newspapers, or magazines;
  • Organizations engaged solely in the acquisition or restoration of physical property; or
  • Agencies that have received any other grant from the NEA.

All awarded grantees are subject to the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Awarded festivals will be reviewed to ensure that they are in compliance with NHPA and NEPA.

Additional NHPA/NEPA Review

Applications may undergo additional review if they include:

  • Projects involving or occurring near a district, site, building, landscape, structure, object, or property that is 50 years old and, therefore, potentially eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places;
  • Commission and installation of outdoor furnishings (such as benches or market structures) or public art (such as a sculpture or a mural); or
  • Design planning and services for projects that may involve properties that are 50 years old and, therefore, potentially eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.

The NEA Festival Fund program will award funding only to support festival-specific expenses. All expenses should be related to completing a specific festival project. Please direct all questions regarding expense eligibility to the Regrants Program Staff.

The NEA Festival Fund Grant may not fund more than 25% of the annual operating budget of the applicant organization.

Eligible Expenses

  • Artist fees for performing, teaching, or providing services;
  • Marketing & publicity costs;
  • Festival-related administrative expenses, up to 20% of request amount;
  • Expendable, festival-related supplies and materials;
  • Festival-related travel expenses;
  • Festival-related rental of space and equipment; and
  • Festival-related technical fees.

Ineligible Expenses

  • General operating expenses;
  • Any activity that takes place outside of Cortland, Herkimer, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, and Oswego Counties;
  • Operating expenses of privately-owned facilities;
  • Events that take place in private homes or studios;
  • Permanent equipment or capital improvements;
  • Acquisition of works of art;
  • Cash prizes, educational scholarships, fellowships, awards to students;
  • Regrants by applicants to fund other activities;
  • Juried shows or competitions;
  • Camps, clubs, or activities restricted to the general public;
  • Food, drink, and other hospitality-related costs;
  • Galas, benefits, receptions, parties, or fundraising events;
  • Activities that raise funds for another organization, individual, or cause;
  • Entertainment such as balloons, clowns, or magicians;
  • Projects in which children are used as professional artists (paid a fee);
  • Projects that are recreational, therapeutic, rehabilitative, or religious in nature, including at-risk or social service programs;
  • Lobbying and advocacy-related expenses;
  • Debt servicing; and
  • Contingency funds.


The application deadline is Friday, May 12, 2023 by 12:00 pm (noon).


All applications must be completed and submitted through the Submittable application portal. Applicants are strongly recommended to review the online application form in advance.

You may save your progress on Submittable as you complete your application. Please note that once the application has been submitted, it cannot be edited any further without approval from the Regrants Program staff.

Upon completing and successfully submitting an application through Submittable, you will receive an automated email confirmation to the registered email address. If you do not receive an email confirmation, the application has not been correctly submitted and cannot be considered for funding.

For further assistance, please refer to the Submittable Help Forum or contact the CNY Arts Regrants Program Staff.

Accommodations & Application Support

CNY Arts provides extensive support and free technical assistance to all interested applicants. Application guides, video tutorials, and panel feedback summaries can be provided to all applicants upon request. Additional accommodations to facilitate your participation of all applicants in this program include, but are not limited to, interpretation or translation services, computer or technical support, budgeting support, grant-writing support, or project development support. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact the CNY Arts Regrants Program Staff.

CNY Arts continues to deliberately address systemic barriers to opportunity and is committed to promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and access for all Central New York and Mohawk Valley residents. We believe that impact is enhanced when people from different backgrounds with unique perspectives are engaged in our grantmaking activities and decision-making processes. We strive to increase equitable opportunities and outcomes by building a board, staff, panel, and grantee pool that reflects the communities we serve. We are committed to taking the actions required to eliminate disparities in access to the arts and arts funding and advancing equity in our organization and in our community.

Applicant Information

  • CNY Arts funding history;
  • Organization’s Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN);
  • Organization’s mission statement;
  • Annual operating budget; and
  • Electoral district numbers.

Basic Project Information

  • Grant request amount;
  • Project summary, including dates & locations;
  • Artistic discipline and type of activity; and
  • Estimates of artists, audience, and other beneficiaries.

Project Narratives

You will be asked to provide detailed project descriptions in response to the project narrative questions, such as:

  • Descriptions of planned public activities;
  • Audience engagement and promotion plan;
  • Community involvement and support; and
  • Use of grant funds, project timelines, and evaluation.
  • Festival Budget Form;
  • Biographies or Resumes of Key Artists;
  • Proof of nonprofit status and list of staff and Board of Directors;
  • Organizational financial statement for most recent fiscal year;
  • Organizational projected budget for current fiscal year;
  • Letters of support; and
  • Additional artistic samples and support materials.

Grant awards and funding recommendations will be determined by a competitive peer review process conducted by a panel of business leaders, academics, and arts professionals. Because funds are limited, project proposals must meet specific criteria as published within these guidelines. The panel’s funding recommendations will then be submitted to the CNY Arts Board of Directors for approval.


Peer review panelists for the Tier Three Project Support Grant program are nominated by residents and community members of Onondaga County and are subsequently appointed by the CNY Arts Board of Directors. Panelists must be nominated and must be residents of or work in Onondaga County to serve. Panelists are paid a nominal honorarium to participate and may not serve for more than three (3) consecutive years. To nominate yourself or another individual to serve as a peer review panelist, please complete this nomination form. New panelists will be selected on a rolling basis.

Applications will be scored on a 15-point rubric with three scoring criteria:

Creativity (5 points)

  • Originality, innovation, and relevance of project’s concept & design;
  • Quality of submitted samples of past works;
  • Experience or credentials of key artists; and
  • Cultural depth in audience experience.

Access & Inclusion (5 points)

  • Engagement with audiences from historically excluded communities;
  • Consideration of community needs and interests (non-duplication of comparable existing programs or services);
  • Efficacy of outreach & marketing plans for core audience; and
  • Collaboration with other organizations, artists, and businesses.

Feasibility (5 points)

  • Overall clarity of project proposal with defined objectives;
  • Reasonable plan for implementation and evaluation;
  • Previously demonstrated ability to implement projects;
  • Experience and credentials of involved personnel; and
  • Realistic and achievable budget and timeline.

Artistic Excellence & Artistic Merit

As per the guidelines provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, all applications must demonstrate a high level of artistic excellence and artistic merit. Applications that score lower than 3 points in the Creativity criterion will not be considered for funding.

Contracted Responsibilities

All grant recipients of the NEA Festival Fund program are contractually obligated to the following terms as per the recipient’s funding agreement. Failure to fulfill grantee responsibilities may result in the grantee’s ineligibility for future consideration.

  • Sign and adhere to the terms laid out in the contract (funding agreement);
  • Conduct all funded activities as described in the application;
  • Submit all public activities to the Central New York Arts & Entertainment Calendar, as applicable;
  • Provide CNY Arts with copies of promotional materials and an advance schedule of all funded events;
  • Provide CNY Arts with complimentary tickets for all funded events for auditing purposes, as applicable;
  • Submit a Final Report within 30 days after the completion of the project;
  • Immediately and in writing notify CNY Arts of any changes to the project, including dates, locations, admission fees, artists hired, or activities conducted (all changes to funded projects are subject to approval); and
  • Prominently and correctly include the following credit language in all printed and published materials:

This project was made possible with the funds from the NEA Festival Fund, a subgrant program of the National Endowment for the Arts administered by CNY Arts.

  • Credit language must be accompanied by the CNY Arts Logo and the National Endowment for the Arts Logo.

Can an individual artist apply for a NEA Festival Fund Grant?

  • No. The only eligible applicants for this program are nonprofit organizations in Cortland, Herkimer, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, or Oswego County that host annual, seasonal, or otherwise regular festivals. Nonprofit organizations that do not host such festivals and individual artists may not apply, even with an eligible fiscal sponsor.

Can a nonprofit organization that applied for direct NYSCA funding, Statewide Community Regrants (SCR), Tier Three Project Support, or Marketing for Economic Development apply for the NEA Festival Fund Grant?

  • Yes. Direct NYSCA applicants, SCR applicants, Tier Three applicants, and Marketing applicants are eligible for the NEA Festival Fund Grant because this program is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Can a nonprofit organization that receives other funding from the National Endowment for the Arts apply for the NEA Festival Fund Grant?

  • No. Organizations that receive any other NEA funding are not eligible for the NEA Festival Fund Grant.

Can a nonprofit organization apply more than once?

  • No. The NEA Festival Fund will only support one festival from any organization.

Will there be a mandatory application seminar or webinar?

  • No. There will not be any mandatory application seminars or webinars.

Will there be a separate Tier Three Festival Fund in 2023?

  • No. Qualifying organizations may apply for Tier Three Project Support and the NEA Festival Fund, but there will not be a Tier Three Festival Fund in 2023.

Are agencies with 501(c)(4) status eligible for this grant?

  • No. 501(c)(4) agencies are not eligible for this grant. Only 501(c)(3) nonprofit agencies are eligible.