Artists show their work at the inaugural 2023 Pittsburgh Art Book Fair at the Carnegie Museum of Art // Photo by Patrick Fisher

Creative Entrepreneur Accelerator

The Creative Entrepreneur Accelerator grant program provides creative entrepreneurs with small business consulting and up to $2,000 in critical financial resources to grow businesses and revenue.

Fifty-one percent of the funds available for distribution in this program have been reserved for Black, Indigenous, or persons of color (BIPOC), or individuals residing in communities identified by the Small Business Administration’s low-income communities map. The Arts Council administers this grant on behalf of the PA Council on the Arts for Allegheny, Beaver, Greene, and Washington counties.

Grant applications for the Creative Entrepreneur Accelerator Program are now closed and under review. Applications were open between January 1, 2024 and February 16, 2024.

Click below for a PDF of the CEA grant guidelines, or download a text-only version of the guidelines in English or a Spanish-language text-only version.

Need more info? You can also watch a recording of our CEA Info Session in English or our Info Session with Spanish translation.

Application Guidelines - EnglishReferral FormDirectrices de inscripción - español

If you have questions about the Creative Entrepreneur Accelerator grant, please email Mona Wiley, Program Specialist, or call 412-391-2060 ext. 226.

The Arts Council is administering this grant on behalf of the PCA for Allegheny, Beaver, Greene, and Washington counties.

Eligibility and Guidelines

This grant program offers $500 to $2,000 in support of creative entrepreneurs starting a business or currently operating a micro-business with gross revenue less than $200,000 in Allegheny, Beaver, Greene, and Washington counties. Eligible applicants must participate in creative fields such as marketing, architecture, visual arts, crafts, design, film and media, digital games, music, entertainment, publishing, or a similar creative field.

Creative entrepreneurs are eligible to apply for the Creative Entrepreneurs Accelerator Program once every three years. Non-profit organizations are not eligible for funds through this program.

Applicants must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older and live in Allegheny, Beaver, Greene, or Washington counties
  • Manage a business with gross revenue of less than $200,000 or intend to form or operate a business in Pennsylvania
  • Operate in one or more of the following creative industries:
    • Marketing – Advertising and marketing agencies and professionals
    • Architecture – Architecture firms and architects
    • Visual Arts & Crafts – Galleries, artists, artisans, and makers
    • Design – Product, interior, graphic, and fashion design firms and designers
    • Film & Media – Film, video, animation, television, and radio businesses
    • Digital Games – Companies, programmers, and individuals producing games
    • Music & Entertainment – Producers, venues, musicians, and performers
    • Publishing – Print or electronic businesses and content creators, editors, and writers

To read a full list of eligible and ineligible expenses for grant funds, please download the full grant guidelines. 

Meet the 25 creative businesses who were awarded a total of $50,000 in early 2023 during the most recent round of the Creative Entrepreneur Accelerator Program here: Grants Totaling $50,000 in State Funding Awarded to Local Creative Businesses

Sign up for our Grant Opportunities email list to receive updates on when the next round of funding becomes available. We also welcome you to view a recording of the Creative Entrepreneur Accelerator Information Session on our Facebook page.

Application and Referral Process

Step 1: Referral Coordinator Business Plan Consultation

Before applying, all applicants must first have a consultation and business plan review with a local small business development organization, known as a Referral Coordinator. The Referral Coordinators will help with the logistics of starting a business including the development of a business plan and growth strategies.

Referral Coordinators for the Arts Council include Chatham University and the University of Pittsburgh. Business consultation services will be provided at no cost to prospective applicants, and Referral Coordinator services are available on an ongoing basis. Please be sure to review the CEA Grant Guidelines to ensure applicant eligibility prior to reaching out to a Referral Coordinator.

We encourage applicants to connect with Referral Coordinators at least two weeks prior to each application round's closing date. This timing is to ensure the Referral Coordinator is able to effectively review your business plan and meet one-on-one with the applicant prior to the application round deadline. Also, please allow up to a week to receive a response from Referral Coordinators.

Referral Coordinator Contact Information

Chatham University: Michelle Price 
Community & Membership Engagement Coordinator 
Email: | 412-365-1384 
Center for Women's Entrepreneurship at Chatham University 
Chatham Eastside | 6585 Penn Ave | Pittsburgh, 15206 

University of Pittsburgh: Meghan Hillegas 
Management Consultant 
Email: | 412-624-0119 

Duquesne University: Allison Howard
Business Consultant
Email: | 412-396-1632

 Not sure which Referral Coordinator to reach out to?  

If you do not have a solid business plan and are looking for assistance in building a better business plan, please reach out to either Michelle Price at Chatham University or Meghan Hillegas at University of Pittsburgh.

Please note: the deadline to reach out to Referral Coordinators to ensure that they will be able to review your business plan prior to the application deadline is February 1, 2024. We cannot guarantee that any requests made to meet with the Referral Coordinators after this date will be able to occur prior to the application deadline.  

Step 2: Application

Upon receiving an approved referral form from a designated Referral Coordinator, applicants may submit application materials through the Arts Council website.

Submissions must include the creative entrepreneur’s application form, approved referral form, and business plan, including a budget outlining expected project expenses for the funding year. Upon receipt of an eligible and complete application, the Arts Council will review your application. If approved, the Arts Council will enter into a grant award agreement with the creative entrepreneur and process the grant payment.

For details on how to apply, and to access a business plan template, please download the full grant guidelines and the referral form.

Important Note: Following the mandatory consultation with an approved Referral Coordinator, they will determine if your project is appropriate to move forward with a formal application to the Creative Entrepreneur Accelerator program. Review the criteria for approval in the grant guidelines. Referral of a creative entrepreneur by a Referral Coordinator does not guarantee that a grant will be made.

Application Deadline

Applications are now closed and under review. The Arts Council accepted applications on a rolling basis, first come, first served, from Monday, January 1, 2024 until Friday, February 16, 2024.

Questions? Please email Mia Hooper, COO, or call 412-391-2060 ext. 222.