Despite the havoc caused by COVID-19, the Westchester arts community has rallied in a way that continues to provide engaging cultural programs for county residents. However, in order to support these programs given the decline in ticket sales, groups have had to get creative with fundraising. This is where the Art$WChallenge matching grant program comes in.
For this year’s program, County Executive George Latimer and Chairman of the Board of Legislators Benjamin Boykin increased funding for Art$WChallenge, allowing ArtsWestchester to add 60 new arts groups to the list of eligible participants. This means that a total of more than 120 groups can participate in this year’s program.
Through December 31, new money donated to any of the eligible groups will be matched by ArtsWestchester with support from Westchester County Government. The program was initially designed as a partnership between these two entities in 2007, leveraging County funding to encourage new donations in the arts community.
Explains Susan Abbott, ArtsWestchester’s Director of Grant Programs: “The majority of the groups added in this year’s cycle are smaller, grassroots organizations that serve the community at the local level by providing community workshops, artist residencies (now virtually) and creating works of art all over the County.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, arts and culture organizations have dedicated themselves to maintaining their programs, creating online education programs and following safety protocols to make their facilities safe for in-person activities. They have done so at tremendous financial cost and demonstrated considerable ingenuity.
The arts have the power to help, heal, educate and bring communities together safely in times of difficulty. The power is in the hands of the community to support these groups with donations that will help them to sustain operations and continue serving Westchester. A list of Art$WChallenge eligible groups can be found online.
A version of this article first appeared in the November issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNewsis distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.