Since its inception in 2007, the Art$WChallenge, a nationally unique matching grant program, has raised $4.7 million in private donations for arts and culture. The annual program gives the opportunity for arts groups to raise private funds within a set period of time, and for those funds, up to a maximum amount, to be matched 1:1 by ArtsWestchester, with support from Westchester County Government. Through the Art$WChallenge, $2.4 million has been matched on top of the private funds.
This program continues each year to be a vital revenue source for participating arts groups, but was especially critical this year with arts groups struggling through the pandemic. For instance, when the arts needed help more than ever, the matching grant program broke several records. For one, 2020 had the largest amount of private funding ever raised in a single year: $757,993. This will be matched with $353,753 in County funding, totaling just over $1 million dollars in combined support for the arts and culture community.
ArtsWestchester CEO Janet Langsam says: “This unprecedented outpouring of more than 2000 individual community donors for large and small arts groups throughout the county shows the genuine affection that Westchester residents have for their art and culture quality of life.”
Langsam continues: “We are grateful to all those who came to the rescue during these troubled times, especially our County legislators who invested $250K in the Challenge program.”
This year’s program was eligible to 126 arts groups – more than any other year. Benjamin Boykin, Chairman of the Westchester County Board of Legislators, explains: “The Art$WChallenge program is a powerful example of a public/private partnership that pays dividends for the economy… This investment makes good sense when you consider that, pre-COVID, on an annual basis, arts and culture added $172.3 million in total economic activity to Westchester.”
Adds Westchester County Executive George Latimer: “Despite the havoc caused by COVID-19, the Westchester arts community has rallied in a way that continues to provide engaging virtual and in-person cultural programs for county residents.” He continues: “However, to support these programs, given the canceled events and decline in ticket sales, groups have had to get creative with fundraising. This is where the Art$WChallenge matching grant program has helped.”
A version of this article first appeared in the February issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNewsis distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.