BMI Foundation: Grants for College Performing Arts

OVERVIEW: BMI Foundations support individuals and non-profit music organizations across the United States in everything from classical music groups to "musical theatre programs for inner-city youngsters, to programs designed to preserve and continue such indigenous American music as jazz and blues."

IP TAKE: Most of BMI's awards are relatively modest, but for a budding student musician looking for financial support to realize a project, BMI can be an important resource.

PROFILE: The BMI Foundation was established in 1985 by executives of Broadcast Music Incorporated. Almost all of the foundation's funding comes from "BMI affiliated songwriters, composers and publishers, BMI employees, and members of the public with a special interest in music." They say that many of their donors give to the Foundation "in the spirit of giving back to the field of music, which they feel has been generous to them." The BMI Foundation works to encourage the "creation, performance and study of music" through various awards, scholarships, internships, grants, and commissions. The foundation runs a wide range of award programs, which are either open applications or by invitation only. BMI also offers scholarships and an opportunity for commissions.

The open-application awards consist of the following:

The BMI Future Jazz Master Scholarship is a $5,000 scholarship awarded annually to a rising jazz star pursuing an advanced academic degree in one of several possible jazz-focused studies.

BMI Student Composer Awards range from $500 to $5,000 for classical music composers age 28 or younger, to help aid in their ongoing musical education. Students can be studying either “in an educational institution or privately.”

The John Lennon Scholarships, totaling $20,000, are awarded for “the best original songs submitted” by 17-24-year-old U.S. college students and/or alumni.

The Nashville Songwriting Scholarship is a $5,000 award “open to student songwriters of country music and related genres.” The award is given to the writer of the best song submitted.

The peermusic Latin Scholarship is a $5,000 scholarships “for the best original song or instrumental composition in any Latin genre” by a songwriter or composer between 17 and 24 currently enrolled “at colleges and universities located in the United States or Puerto Rico.”

The Pete Carpenter Fellowship “for aspiring film, television, and video game composers” provides a $2,000 stipend for a four- to five-week intensive mentorship in Los Angeles.

Finally, the Woody Guthrie Fellowship Program awards up to $5,000 to support scholarly work on a "research topic or theme directly related to Guthrie’s life, work, or contribution to American music and world culture,” leading to “an original scholarly publication or product.”

The following awards and scholarships do not accept applications, but are invitation-only: the Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize, the Ellen Schwartz Award for literary merit in lyric writing, the Jean Banks Award for musical theater writing, the Jeffrey Cotton Award for presenting organizations, the Jerry Bock Musical Theater Award, the Jerry Harrington Musical Theater Awards, the Curtis Mayfield Scholarship for graduating seniors at the Chicago High School for the Arts, David N. Baker Jazz Composition Scholarship for students at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, the Evelyn Buckstein Scholarship for students at City College of New York, the Lionel Newman Conducting Scholarship, and the Theodora Zavin Scholarship for graduating seniors at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in New York City.

Grants, prizes, and scholarships typically range from $2,000 to $10,000. Many recent winners are publicized on the foundation’s News page.

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