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Grants to Fund Your Performing Arts Project

Thu, May 31, 2018 @ 12:05 PM / by Lauren Albright

Fund your performing arts project with grants.Grants for performing arts projects help enrich communities in myriad ways. The performing arts foster creative expression. They help us educate ourselves about our world. Performing arts events can attract tourism and boost the local economy (Study International, 2016). Yet funding for the performing arts is notoriously limited.

If your organization seeks grants to support a performing arts event or project, the following opportunities may be right for you.

Performance Art Focused on Diversity, Cultural Heritage, and Underserved Populations: The National Endowment for the Arts

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) offers several performing arts grant opportunities. NEA grants are open to non-profit U.S. organizations, units of state or local government, and federally recognized tribal communities and tribes. Eligible applicants include arts organizations, arts service organizations, and local education agencies, including school districts. Two NEA grants to check out are:

  • Art Works Grants: For projects that celebrate diversity and cultural heritage, Art Works Grants offer matching grants of $10,000-$100,000. Eligible disciplines for a project include dance, musical theater, opera, and theater; visual arts disciplines are also eligible. Applications for Art Works Grants are accepted twice each year in February and July, with the next deadline on July 12, 2018.
  • Challenge America Grants: For projects that enrich underserved populations, Challenge America Grants offer matching grants of $10,000. These grants aim to extend the reach of arts to populations whose access is limited due to geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability. Proposed projects must either engage a guest artist, develop cultural tourism, or support a public art project. The deadline for Challenge America Grants just passed in April 2018, but it’s never too early to start planning for the next application cycle.

Applicants may apply for only one of the above grants per year. However, it is possible to apply for other NEA funding opportunities for different projects or different phases of the same project.

Performance Art Focused on New Work and Diversity: The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Performing arts is one of several program areas for which the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation offers grants. Grant amounts vary widely—since 2015, the Mellon Foundation has awarded grants for the performing arts ranging from $10,000 to $30 million to organizations including local theater groups and nationally-recognized art galleries. Some averages to consider:

  • For all grants since 2015, the average grant amount is about $606,000.
  • For grants under $1 million since 2015, the average grant amount is about $337,000.

The Foundation states it primarily awards performing arts grants in the areas of dance, music, theater, and multidisciplinary forms. Their priorities within these areas are artists and new work, adaptive organizational practices, the public value of the arts, and diversity and inclusion. To begin the application process, prospective grantees must submit an inquiry regarding their proposed grant through the Foundation’s online portal. If the proposed grant fits the Foundation’s grantmaking priorities, staff will invite the grantee to submit a proposal. Grantees should expect their proposal to go through several rounds of revision with Foundation staff. Once finalized, staff will determine whether to recommend the grant to the Foundation’s Board of Trustees at one of their quarterly meetings. There are no deadlines or eligibility requirements mentioned, so this grant opportunity could be a good fit for a wide diversity of organizations on flexible timelines.

Innovative Theater: National Theatre Company Grants

The American Theatre Wing offers National Theatre Company Grants to innovative theater companies that help shape their local communities through the performing arts. Eligible organizations should:

Strong applicants will exhibit how they develop new work, foster education and community engagement, and/or revitalize regional theater. The grants offer $10,000 to support general operations, including building infrastructure, enhancing resources, and creating new initiatives. Grant recipients are allowed to reapply for additional support after at least three years. The 2018 application will be posted online in mid-June.


More grant opportunities for the arts can be found on our blog under the topic “Arts Grants.” Need help finding more opportunities or preparing your application for a performing arts grant? Contact our grant experts today.

Photo Credit: Sergei Gavrilov

Topics: grants for the arts, grants for culture, performing arts

Lauren Albright

Written by Lauren Albright

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