Matching Challenge Grants Issued to Support Arts During Pandemic

October 6, 2020 – The Central New York Community Foundation is issuing a matching challenge grant in the amount of $100,000 to the CNY Arts COVID-19 Impact Fund, which was established by CNY Arts to provide emergency support to the arts, cultural, and heritage industry in Central New York. Additional challenge grants have also been issued by the John Ben Snow Foundation and The Dorothy and Marshall M. Reisman Foundation.  When the grants are combined, all donations to the fund will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $175,000.

A recent study commissioned this summer by CNY Arts, and funded by the Community Foundation and the Gifford Foundation, found that artists and nonprofit arts organizations would experience a combined loss of $15 million by the end of September. More than 265 artists and nonprofit arts organizations responded. Agencies reported, on average, that they only had an additional 23 weeks of cash reserves.   

“This is a critical moment,” said Stephen Butler, executive director of CNY Arts. “Without a significant infusion of relief funding starting now, many agencies may need to entirely suspend operations or permanently close their doors.”

While some venues, such as museums and historic sites, are beginning to reopen, large performance driven agencies and many small community-based arts programs have already had to cancel partial or full seasons and events. Those that are reopening are finding that safety protocols and equipment come with significant costs. Many organizations also turned to virtual streaming to provide art to the community, but this also can be costly and does not generate much income.

The primary request from the artists and cultural agencies that responded to the survey was emergency relief grants. While Paycheck Protection Program loans and the extension of the loaning period was helpful in retaining staff through the spring and summer, the field is preparing for further reductions in earned income, government grants, corporate giving and individual contributions.

“This scenario has put the future of these agencies at severe risk,” said Butler. ”We believed it was crucial that a fund be created to distribute relief and sustainability grants to agencies and individual artists.”

Donations can be made to the CNY Arts COVID-19 Impact Fund at or by check to CNY Arts COVID-19 Fund, c/o Central New York Community Foundation, 431 East Fayette Street, Syracuse, NY 13202. To donate more complex gifts such as stock, contact Thomas Griffith at 315.883.5544 or

CNY Arts provides support and assistance to individual artists and arts and cultural organizations through access to grants, capacity-building assistance, education and training, and promotional services. It serves the counties of Cortland, Herkimer, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga and Oswego. The organization’s primary goal is to enhance appreciation for the arts and cultural vibrancy of the region.

The Central New York Community Foundation is a public charity established in 1927 that collects contributions from donors, manages them to grow over time and then distributes funding to local charities to help them thrive. It is the largest charitable foundation in Central New York with assets of nearly $260 million and has invested more than $200 million in community improvement projects since its inception. As a grantmaker, civic leader, convener and sponsor of strategic initiatives, the Community Foundation strives to strengthen local nonprofits, encourage better understanding of the region and address the most critical issues of our time.

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