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.

Audience attendance counts are strongly weighted in our performing arts grant 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)
  • 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.
  • The primary mission of the organization should be directly that of performing arts.
  • 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
    • Art therapy 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

*If/when a Cullen grant funds less than the total cost of a capital item or project, Cullen’s funds will not be released until the Grantee has in-hand all funds needed to purchase the equipment or complete the capital project.

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.


July 1, 2024: Letter of Intent (LOI) stage opens. LOI's are accepted on a rolling basis between July 1st and July 26th. 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. 

July 1, 2024 - July 12, 2024: 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. 

July 26, 2024: LOI phase closes at 5:00pm Eastern Time. Applicants will be notified within 1 week whether they advance to the Full Application phase. 

August 23, 2024: Deadline for full applications at 5:00pm Eastern Time. Early submissions are strongly encouraged. 

October 2024: Cullen Foundation will notify applicants of grant decisions.

December 2024: Payment will be distributed to grantees.