Includes $10,000 awarded to Arts Services Initiative of WNY for Arts Access program
In its first 50 years, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded more than $5 billion in grants to recipients in every state and U.S. jurisdiction - the only arts funder in the nation to do so. Today, the NEA announced awards totaling more than $27.6 million in its first funding round for fiscal year 2016, including a Challenge America award of $10,000 to Arts Services Initiative of Western New York for the Arts Access program.
The Challenge America category supports projects that extend the reach of the arts to underserved populations whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics or disability. Challenge America grants are comparatively small investments that have a big impact in their communities.
NEA Chairman Jane Chu said, "The arts are part of our everyday lives - no matter who you are or where you live. They have the power to transform individuals, spark economic vibrancy in communities and transcend the boundaries across diverse sectors of society. Supporting projects like the one from Arts Services Initiative offers more opportunities to engage in the arts every day."
The Arts Access program - www.arts-access.org - features two components: The Arts Access Pass is available to anyone receiving public assistance in Erie and Niagara counties, and provides free tickets to every performance and exhibit at more than 30 cultural organizations. Passholders can also receive free transportation to and from the venues in order to better connect rural and suburban users to the area's cultural offerings, many of which are located in the City of Buffalo. The Arts Access website also contains a list of free and reduced-cost cultural opportunities available to students, veterans and the general public with no pass needed.
"The Arts Access website and pass provides every resident of our region the chance to discover new cultural opportunities at little to no cost, while gaining our arts organizations new audiences for their great work," ASI Executive Director Tod A. Kniazuk said. "ASI believes the arts are for everyone, and Arts Access is a core program of ours for just that reason. Thanks to the NEA, now even more of our residents will know about Arts Access and will get connected to arts and culture in Western New York."