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Arts, cultural groups in Southwestern Pa. can apply for new pandemic relief grants

In response to the ongoing impacts of the covid-19 pandemic, a group of 15 foundations and a private Pittsburgh-area donor have announced the Arts|Equity|Reimagined Fundto help regional arts and cultural organizations weather the effects of the shutdown.

The fund is open to all groups but “will prioritize small to medium-sized arts organizations and those that serve or are led by historically marginalized communities in southwestern Pennsylvania, whether they be urban or rural in location,” according to the fund website.

Grants will support arts and cultural organizations in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties as well as 12 others around the region: Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Somerset and Washington.

All 501(c)3 arts organizations, artist-driven projects and unincorporated arts collectives may apply. Non-501(c)3 projects and collectives may use a fiscal sponsor to apply. Assistance in securing a fiscal sponsor will be available.

“The reason the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County sees these grants as really important is that it gives small arts organizations the opportunity to reimagine how they do their work,” said Phil Koch, executive director of the Pittsburgh Foundation affiliate.

“It’s especially important for the types of organizations we serve in the smaller communities here, and in the other counties, that don’t have access to the same resources that they do in Pittsburgh,” Koch said. “My concern is for places like the Lamp Theatre in Irwin, who have done such a great job in recent years. We want them to continue to have successes and be able to build their audiences.”

Potential applicants are invited to access free Zoom sessions to obtain more information at 9 a.m. Thursday, 3 p.m. Aug. 24 and 9 a.m. Aug. 25.

The sessions will provide for specific questions to be answered in real time. Potential applicants also can email questions for a response to

To date, the foundations have committed a total of more than $3.5 million and continue to raise funds for the grants, which include two funding opportunities:

• Capacity Building Assistance — designed to respond quickly to requests to gain the skills or concrete strategies needed to address covid-19 related challenges. Open to nonprofit arts organizations or sponsored projects with budgets at or less than $2.5 million.

• Collective Action for Re-Imagining — seeks ideas employing new and innovative ways of working together to address the dramatic shifts instigated by the covid-19 crisis, that also address opportunities and solutions to reposition the sector for a more sustainable and equitable future. Open to any size nonprofit arts organization or project. No predetermined grant sizes or number of grants to be awarded.

Organizations can apply for both types of assistance. For requirements, deadlines and other information, click here.

“This is an opportunity for organizations to reimagine themselves, as opposed to the foundations dictating how they do their work,” Koch said. “We don’t expect for all of these organizations to have answers in the first round of funding. We encourage them to take their time and work with others to come up with a thoughtful plan for moving forward.”

The collaborating foundations, known collectively as The Covid-19 Arts Working Group, includes the Allegheny Regional Asset District, Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, The Benter Foundation, The Buhl Foundation, Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, The Community Foundation of Westmoreland County, The Community Foundation of Fayette County, The Fine Foundation, The Grable Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, Henry L. Hillman Foundation, The McCune Foundation, Richard King Mellon Foundation, Opportunity Fund and The Pittsburgh Foundation.

For more information, call 412-219-6584 or visit

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Shirley at 724-836-5750, or via Twitter .

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