PA Council on the Arts awards grant for local artists

From staff reports

The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts has awarded United Way of Clarion County a PPA grant for $140,000. In 2021, United Way of Clarion County was named the Pennsylvania Partner in the Arts for Region 13 and was recently awarded renewed funding through 2024.

Part of the funding will be used for the continuation of the Creative Entrepreneur Accelerator Program. The CEA program is designed to pair access to existing small business consulting services with financial resources up to $2,000 for creative entrepreneurs who aspire to start their own for-profit business or who operate an existing for-profit micro business in Armstrong, Butler, Clarion, Jefferson, and Indiana Counties.

United Way of Clarion County is tasked with administering the state-wide program to the five-county region.

“United Way of Clarion County works with the Small Business Development Centers, PA Wilds, and other organizations that support small businesses and assist in their creation,” explained Melissa Fulton, United Way of Clarion County’s Executive Director. “The SDBCs provide business owners and potential business owners with access to so many supports and educational opportunities. They are helping entrepreneurs create a solid foundation and setting them up for success from the very beginning. Our collaboration with them has been great so far.”

“Creative entrepreneurs are an invaluable asset to our communities. They lead innovation, deliver creative products and services, generate economic opportunity, and contribute to a unique community identity,” continued Fulton.

Additionally, this program prioritizes the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts’ overarching value of diversity, equity, and inclusion and investment in creative entrepreneurs who identify as Black, Indigenous, or persons of color (BIPOC) or those located in and whose work benefits low-income communities. A total of $50,000 has been awarded to 25 entrepreneurs in Clarion, Jefferson, and Indiana Counties. United Way of Clarion County plans to award at least 12 more $2,000 grants in the coming months.

To apply for the Creative Entrepreneur Accelerator Program Grant, individuals must be at least 18 years of age, be a current resident of Pennsylvania for at least one year, must have gross revenue less than $200,000.

Under this program’s definition, creative entrepreneurs intend to form a business or operate a for-profit micro business in Pennsylvania within one or more of the following creative industry areas:

Marketing Advertising and marketing agencies and professionals.

Architecture Architecture firms and architects.

Visual Arts and Crafts Galleries, artists, artisans and makers.

Design Product, interior, graphic, and fashion design firms and designers.

Film and Media Film, video, animation, TV and Radio businesses.

Digital Games Companies, programmers and individuals producing games.

Music and Entertainment Producers, venues, musicians and performers.

Publishing Print or electronic businesses and content creators, editors & writers.

Anyone interested in applying for this grant should reach out to United Way of Clarion County at (814) 226-8760 or through email at More information is available on United Way of Clarion County’s website at under the Region 13 Tab.

The PPA Funding also supported a new program, The Creative Sector Flex Fund. The CSFF is designed to address the changing needs of dynamic not-for-profit arts organizations with an average annual revenue between $10,000 – $200,000.

This grant program incorporates the current needs of the field by offering grantees the flexibility to use $5,000 grants in ways that ensure the most significant impact on their organizations and communities. Eligible uses of funds are flexible, including the support of applicants’ administrative, programmatic, and project-related expenses.

“We are excited to see this year’s Creative Sector Flex Fund grantees announced,” said Karl Blischke, Executive Director of the PA Council on the Arts. “Pennsylvania’s creative sector organizations and businesses play a vital role in helping communities be competitive and dynamic places where people want to live, work, and visit. Our partnership with the United Way of Clarion County-and with all of our regional partners across the state-helps ensure that Pennsylvania’s entire creative sector has access to funding support for the valuable contributions they make in their communities.”

Ten organizations have already been selected by a panel and will each receive grants for their 2024 programming. Grantees include:

– IUP Lively Arts/IUP Research Institute

– The Sawmill Center for the Arts

– Arts on the Allegheny

– Pennsylvania Rural Arts Alliance

– Butler Little Theater

– Allegheny RiverStone Center for the Arts

– The Indiana Arts Council

– Fort Armstrong Fold Festival

– The Watershed Journal Literary Group

– Armstrong Community Theater

Additionally, United Way of Clarion County received notification of another $49,500 grant awarded through the COVID-19 ARPA PA Arts and Culture Recovery Program.

As one of only 14 organizations in PA to receive a part of the $1,650,000 award, UWCC is tasked with distributing funds to local creative professionals in Armstrong, Butler, Clarion, Indiana, and Jefferson Counties. This grant hopes to ensure artists and creatives in every county in PA have access to apply for up to $3,000 in income loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic. UWCC staff will have more details on the application process for organizations in the coming weeks.

“I often get confused looks when I say I am with United Way of Clarion County and administering grants for artists and art organizations. Even some of my board members were skeptical when I wanted to pursue partnering with the PCA,” said Fulton. “Many people think United Way of Clarion County only supports programs or projects that focus on ending poverty. While that is part of what UW does, ultimately, we want a better community for everyone. Our focus is on Health, Education, and Income Stability, the building blocks for a healthy community. We know healthy communities have a vibrant art atmosphere and we are making these investments for our community’s future. It’s a win-win for everyone. We have some great things happening and so much more in the works.”

Anyone wishing to get involved with United Way of Clarion County or to learn more about the funding for artists and art organizations should contact Melissa Fulton at (814)  226-8760, via email at, or visit