Decentralization vs. Direct NYSCA Grants

It took me more than a year to find out about the Decentralization Grant program. I had talked to various people about getting some sort of grant to support the Classical Music Festival Series, but no-one actually told me, "here is what you do"... "the application deadline is ________".

So this page is an informal introduction to funding in New York State, focusing on money that comes from the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA). The primary distinction I would like to make is between money coming directly from NYSCA and money that comes through the Decentralization program.

This is not an official document. To get the real story, check the websites for NYSCA Grants and (in the case of Cortland and Onondaga Counties) the Onondaga County Cultural Resources Council for Decentralization Grants.

To obtain a Grant of either type, you either need to be a not-for-profit organization, or you need to apply through such an organization. If you apply through a not-for-profit, the not-for-profit is called a "conduit". There are also a very few Grants that can go to individual artists, but "artist" in this context, does not include musicians.

If you have a project that falls under one of the NYSCA categories, you can apply through a non-profit for funding. I did not find a good match, since the festivals involved students and amateurs (which I am told disqualifies a project from consideration).

The money for the Decentralization Grants actually comes from NYSCA, but is distributed to individual counties (usually). The individual counties decide on what projects to fund with this money, based on a review of applications by a local committee. The idea is that local interests can be better understood at the local level. Decentralization projects are also usually smaller in scale.

For a Decentralization Grant, there are no pre-defined categories. You write a proposal for a project and it is evaluated for its artistic merit. However, there are some restrictions on who can apply for a Decentralization Grant. For example.

  • The Non-profit (whether applying directly or as a conduit for an individual) cannot apply for a separate NYSCA Grant during the same year.
  • Membership organizations cannot apply.
  • Capital expenditures are not funded.

Cortland County is a special case. We apparently lost our ability to administer Decentralization Grants because of some (I am told) malfeasance by the old Cortland Arts Council. So Decentralization Grants now come to us though the Onondaga Cultural Resource Council.

If you are interested in applying for a Decentralization Grant, get in contact with Mark Wright at the Onondaga CRC. Also, get on the CRC website and get yourself on their mailing list. Lately, the DEC applications have been in the fall. There are information sessions that you MUST ATTEND before applying. This usually happen during late summer. Don't rely on the website posting for the dates of the sessions. This past year, the website was updated a few days after the information sessions were held.

Here are announcements for
Decentralization Grants for 2011
Decentralization Grants for 2010
Decentralization Grants for 2009
Decentralization Grants for 2007

Here is a portion of my application for the Classical Music Series (much of the formatting lost in conversion to html)