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Dayton Nonprofit Offers Artistic Opportunities & Art Grants for Students and Residents

Culture Works | Graphic from Culture Works |

Culture Works is an arts nonprofit in Dayton that offers grants, scholarships and educational opportunities. 


Bill Perry, the director of development and marketing at Culture Works, explained the purpose of the organization.

“Culture Works is a nonprofit that exists to support artists, local artists, local art organizations and cultural institutions,” Perry said.

Founded as the Dayton Performing Arts Fund in 1974, 1989 saw the organization become ArtsDayton to support more of the community. Finally, in 1993, ArtsDayton merged with the Miami Valley Arts Council to become what we know as Culture Works today.

The organization fuels economic and social activity in the region, serving over one million residents in its history and contributing millions to the local economy, according to the nonprofit’s website.

Art also has a mental impact on individual and collective communities. According to a 2022 study from the National Library of Medicine, art therapy can promote mental health through creativity and expression.

Even as a fundraising organization, Culture Works makes access to the arts easier.

A donation of $85 to Culture Works gets members the Culture Works Passport, a pass for buy-one-get-one-free tickets to over 70 performances and events, plus discounts on admission, classes and more.

Grants, scholarships and services

Since 2016, Culture Works has supported over 70 local artists through the Artistic Opportunity Grant Program that the Montgomery County Arts and Cultural District funds, according to the Culture Works 2021-2022 annual report.

The 2021-2022 grant cycle provided $40,000 for artists. The 2023-2024 grant cycle presents even more opportunity, with $60,000 to be distributed to individual artists. 

“I think that the best thing Culture Works offers is our individual artist grants. I think that represents the spirit of our organization the best,” Benjamin Baugham, community engagement coordinator for Culture Works, said.

For organizations, Culture Works administers funding through the Dayton Region Arts Renewal Grant, Community Arts Grant and the Montgomery County Special Projects Grant. 

According to Perry, one of Culture Works’ main goals is to provide unrestricted support to ten local art organizations, and this year, Culture Works provided over $260,000 to ten local organizations.

For opportunities specific to students, there is the Leonard P. Roberts Memorial scholarship, which rewards grants to ten students who demonstrate participation and patronage in the arts.

K-12 students and educators can explore Culture Works’ ArtsDEEP, an educational online portal showcasing educational opportunities.

“ArtsDEEP provides an easy way for educators and school administrators to discover programs (or ‘Explorations’) ranging from field trips to workshops to in-school performances that align with individual classroom needs and support state curriculum standards,” the ArtsDEEP page reads.

The Arcade and the future

Spring is the primary fundraising season for Culture Works—an initiative made easier by a recent move. The move to the newly renovated Dayton Arcade provided a whole new space for Culture Works, allowing for rent of the historical rotunda for organizational and private events.

The Arcade also brings affordable housing, new businesses and coworking spaces. In this space, Culture Works hopes to host a 50th anniversary New Years party to raise funds previously delayed by the pandemic.

Baugham plans to begin the Onyx program, a program to support local Black artists, soon.

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