The Pennsylvania Rural Arts Alliance (PRAA) was founded in 1989. The organization is committed to the development and promotion of the arts throughout rural areas of southwestern Pennsylvania. PRAA provides information and special assistance to this underserved constituency of existing and emerging arts organizations and individual artists. A Board of Directors consisting of arts administrators from throughout our service area guides the organization. The office is staffed by a part-time Executive Director and a part-time clerical assistant. The PRAA office is located at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art on the campus of St. Francis University in Loretto, PA.
The arts community served by PRAA consists of small, rural, underserved arts organizations in southwestern Pennsylvania including the counties of Beaver, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Centre, Clearfield, Fayette, Indiana, Lawrence, Washington and Westmoreland. Most of these arts organizations have limited (if any) paid staff and are chiefly volunteer driven and managed. The projects and programs offered by these arts organizations include a variety of concert series and performances, exhibits, festivals, summer arts programs, and other arts events. Often these events and activities are cultural experiences involving entire communities. Artists who take advantage of PRAA’s services live and work in these rural communities and benefit from the networking and exposure that PRAA can provide.
PRAA is a service-oriented organization. It is not a “presenting” organization. Over the years PRAA has presented a variety of workshops to its members on topics of relevance, such as grant seeking, basic grant writing, board development, social media, marketing, and non-profit tax issues. The board and staff have provided technical assistance to arts groups and artists when requested. Technical assistance for Project and Program Stream grant applications is provided free of charge, and there is a fee for workshops and other educational programs. Memberships are solicited annually at a cost of $25 for individuals, $50 for organizations and $100 for patrons.
Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts
In 1997 PRAA was invited to be one of the four original partners in a new initiative of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) – the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts (PPA), a regionalized re-granting of funds. As one of the original partners, PRAA worked with consultants and the PCA to design and implement the re-granting application, panel review, and management of grant funds. The PPA Program has been expanded to include 13 partner groups which serve all counties of the state.
PRAA currently administers the PPA program in Cambria, Somerset, Bedford, Blair, Indiana, Westmoreland and Armstrong Counties. Because PRAA deals mostly with small, community based organizations that often are managed solely by volunteers, there is a need for a great deal of “hands-on” assistance in dealing with grant applications. Grant applicants are able to receive one-on-one attention as they go through the grants process.