Artists, makers, designers, and craftspeople use sophisticated skills when it comes to making, but the business side of their practice often remains underdeveloped.

ACRE provides participating creatives with the foundations to become confident business owners ready to professionalize their passion. Through an application process, the Creative Business Accelerator (CBA) and local ACRE partners will select up to 10 creative entrepreneurs and guide them through a yearlong supportive program.  ACRE participants will:

  • Connect to other aspiring creative business owners in their community and build lasting relationships and the foundations for impactful collaborations
  • Gain regional visibility for their creative business and their local community through the ACRE website, marketing, and sponsored activities
  • Hear from experts on topics such as legal considerations, business finances, and successful marketing strategies
  • Access direct support from business topic experts to improve everyday operations, entrepreneurial skills, and confidence in decision making
  • Develop an actionable business plan that positions business owners to access investment, hire employees, activate space, or achieve other entrepreneurial goals



ACRE is growing again soon!

Applications for future ACRE communities and creatives will open in 2024.

The Program

Eligibility and Priorities


  • Identifies as an artist, maker, designer, craftsperson, and/or small-batch manufacturer *
  • Has operated a creative business for a minimum of one year and has sold products or services
  • Has access to a computer and the internet to join virtual meetings and complete homework
  • Identifies Greensburg, New Kensington, or Johnstown as a natural hub for their creative community*
  • Aspires to become a full-time creative business owner
  • Able to attend in-person meetings and workshops
  • Agrees to complete pre- and post-program surveys

* Please visit the PA Council on the Arts for samples of creative business types that would likely realize the most success in an ACRE cohort.

* Rural businesses may be in proximity to a city but are not required to operate in one to participate in ACRE. Rural businesses are encouraged to apply.


  • BIPOC, women, and/or veteran entrepreneurs
  • Entrepreneurs living and/or operating a business in low to moderate-income areas
  • Entrepreneurs seeking a loan from Bridgeway Capital
  • Entrepreneurs with evidence of and/or aspirations for social impact including
    — Creating quality jobs
    — Revitalizing Main Street corridors
    — Elevating underserved populations

“ACRE absolutely changed my life as an independent artist. I was connected with so many fantastic artists in the cohort, who I’ve made lasting connections with. The business coaching provided by ACRE also helped me to organize and professionalize my business, leading me toward my ultimate goal: a financially independent jewelry artist.”

Erika Broas | Founder of Erika Blair Jewelry | ACRE Johnstown 2022 Cohort

Benefits and Goals


  • Learn from advanced creative business owners who provide tested insights, along with content experts on a variety of topics such as legal considerations, financial management, and marketing strategies
  • Benefit from one-on-one mentoring from business advisors with expertise in leadership, production, markets, strategy, and more
  • Develop an actionable business plan to access capital, build teams, and make the leap into a commercial, production, and/or a retail space.
  • Strengthen connections and networks, including developing valuable relationships with peer entrepreneurs, support resources, small business mentors, supply chain partners, etc.


  • Increase the visibility of a specific region, city, and/or town’s creative economy via ACRE’s regional branding activities and local community engagements
  • Support entrepreneurial peer networks through intentional cohorts of creative businesses that learn, grow, and connect over the course of a year (and beyond)
  • Deliver targeted, resonant, and high-touch business education programs for creative entrepreneurs aiming to achieve measurable and lasting progress

The Creative Business Accelerator

The Creative Business Accelerator (CBA) helps creative businesses grow their businesses in ways that support equitable economic development. Questions? Contact us to start a conversation.