Responsive Grant - Performing Arts


The responsive grant process enables us to gain a better understanding of applicant organizations and learn about the needs of and benefits to the individuals they serve. Ultimately the process results in investments in strong performing arts organizations aligned with our stated mission and focus areas. 

In Performing Arts, we support the disciplines of music, dance, singing, and theatre, and our priority is to fund organizations that have a primary focus on community performances. 

Cullen Foundation’s responsive grant process is competitive, not all applications are funded. We screen and make declinations through the Letter of Intent (LOI). The fiscal health, sustainability, and impact of the applicant organization are important factors in our decision-making.



Cullen Foundation has the following eligibility criteria for all applicants:

  • The organization is a 501(c)(3).
  • The organization MUST submit audited or reviewed financials prepared by a CPA for its most recently completed fiscal year. This is Cullen's requirement and is not related to NYS requirements. (Click here for more information on types/levels of financial reviews - this link will take you to a brochure on the website of the American Institute of CPAs)
  • Erie County is our primary geographic service area. Performing arts organizations outside of Erie County may apply if they can demonstrate their service to Erie County residents through valid audience participation data.
  • No funding received will be used for partisan political activity.
  • No funding received will be used for expenses already incurred.
  • No funding will overlap with an existing grant from the Cullen Foundation.
  • The request fits within Cullen Foundation’s performing arts focus area; requests for the following will not be considered:
    • Arts education programs
    • Sponsorships including galas, fundraising events, conferences, and travel opportunities
    • Programs and events with a performing arts component that are hosted by organizations that are not members of the performing arts sector
    • Activities of organizations serving primarily their own membership


Types of Support

Cullen Foundation has established the following types of support for responsive grants in the performing arts focus area:

  • Program support
  • General operating support
  • Capital (building or equipment)
  • Capacity building support


Funding Range

An organization may apply for 1, 2 or 3 years of funding, ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 per year (for a $300,000 total maximum). Receiving the maximum $100,000/year request amount is rare and occurs only when the Foundation deems a unique strategic alignment between Cullen Foundation's mission and the program's outcomes. Multi-year grants are made only when the Foundation believes the multi-year nature of the request is essential to the project's success.


Key Deadlines

Cullen Foundation runs two open grant cycles each year. The winter responsive grant cycle begins in January and the summer responsive grant cycle begins in July. Scroll below to join our mailing list. This will notify you of the deadlines for upcoming grant cycles.

January 1, 2023: Letter of Intent (LOI) stage opens. LOI's are accepted on a rolling basis between January 1st and February 3rd. Once an LOI is approved, the applicant may proceed to the Full Application phase. Cullen Foundation strongly encourages early submissions so that each request may receive adequate time for review.

January 3, 2023- January 20, 2023: All applicants must schedule a phone call with Cullen staff prior to submitting an LOI. This phone call will indicate your organization's intent to apply and provide an overview of the program for which you are applying.

February 3, 2023: LOI phase closes at 5:00pm Eastern Time. Applicants will be notified within 1 week whether they advance to the Full Application phase.

March 3, 2023: Deadline for full applications at 5:00pm Eastern Time. Early submissions are strongly encouraged.

April 2023: Cullen Foundation will notify applicants of grant decisions.

June 2023: Payment will be distributed to grantees.