About Cultural Investments

About Cultural Investments

Upper Manhattan is home to a remarkable concentration of arts organizations and artists representing multiple art forms, traditions, and aesthetics. This cultural community has a rich history of nurturing vital new expressions in a multitude of disciplines. UMEZ established the Cultural Investment Fund (CIF) to invest in these groups – one of the largest concentrations of culturally-specific groups in the country – as a powerful way to enhance the economic vitality of Upper Manhattan.

CIF works to foster the dynamic and diverse arts scene of Upper Manhattan through five funding categories.

Upper Manhattan nonprofit cultural organizations with budgets above $100,000 may be eligible to apply for a Capacity Grant, Infrastructure Grant, or Technical Assistance Grant; these categories are designed to build administrative capacity, support organizational development, and promote long-term sustainability.*

Catalyst Grants are available specifically to arts organizations and/or artists that come together to present a major cultural project in Upper Manhattan.

Fiscally-sponsored artist-led projects and nonprofit cultural organizations with budgets under $750,000 may be eligible to apply through the new UMEZ Arts Engagement grant category, which provides grants of up to $10,000 to support the frequency and diversity of public-engaging creative programming in Upper Manhattan. These grants will be administered through a regranting organization; more information will be available later this fall. These grants will have fewer reporting requirements than the four UMEZ grant categories above.

Since 1996, CIF has awarded over $55 million in grants to members of Upper Manhattan’s nonprofit cultural sector. These investments have strengthened Upper Manhattan’s nonprofit organizations, building their capacity to shape a vibrant cultural landscape while leading to more visitors, new jobs, and increased economic activity. A 2016 study by UMEZ and the Regional Plan Association, Leveraging the Power of Cultural Investments, illustrates the impact that UMEZ has on the emergence of Upper Manhattan as a primary cultural hub for New York City.

Verdery Roosevelt, Senior Vice President, Cultural Investments
Cheryl Anhava, Program Officer, Cultural Investments
Lindsey Crane, Program Officer, Cultural Investments
Linda Fernandez, National Urban Fellow, Special Assistant

By email: culture@umez.org
By phone: 212-410-0030

 * A Word About Sustainability:
Capacity Grants and Infrastructure Grants are designed to help an organization achieve a balanced operating platform that can be sustained after the grant concludes. These grants fund elements of an organization’s plan to stabilize or expand its operations, such as new development and marketing positions, consultants, hardware and software programs, web site upgrades, and capital improvements. Once the grant is complete, the grantee should be able to generate enough increased income from fundraising and/or program activities to maintain the new staff level (for Capacity Grants) and support its programming, without additional UMEZ support. Fundraising is often the focal point for a UMEZ grant, as long-term sustainability requires regular support from many sources, including government, individuals, foundations, and other funders.