Time Warner Foundation: Grants for College Performing Arts

OVERVIEW: The Time Warner Foundation is the philanthropic arm of entertainment giant Time Warner and is funded entirely by Time Warner and its subsidiaries. Separate from the community investments wing of the corporation itself, Time Warner Foundation’s performing arts grants focus on developing up-and-coming “storytellers” and increasing the diversity of voices represented in the industry. Performing arts education institutes, workshops, and fellowships make up a portion of this giving

IP TAKE: Time Warner Foundation’s performing arts education giving has mainly supported performing-arts-focused institutes or fellowship or workshop programs within performing arts companies, but it is unclear how to apply for funding.

PROFILE: The Time Warner Foundation (previously called the AOL Time Warner Foundation) is the main higher ed performing arts philanthropic vehicle for the entertainment company Time Warner and its subsidiaries (such as HBO, Turner Broadcasting, and Warner Bros.), which together provide the entirety of the foundation’s operating budget.

The foundation’s mission is “to seek innovative and powerful ways to discover, nurture and celebrate the next generation of storytellers” and ultimately foster “an artistic community that is rich, vibrant and relevant to audiences of today and tomorrow.”

A major vehicle for achieving that diversity of voices is the foundation’s New Works/New Voices initiatives, which seeks to “build impactful partnerships with best-in-class nonprofit organizations that push the boundaries of artist development and support underrepresented storytellers.”

New Works/New Voices is not exclusively focused on supporting education projects, but it does count a number of them among its recent grantees. Note that recent grant recipients have generally not been programs or departments within colleges or universities, but rather performing-arts-focused institutes or fellowship / workshop programs within performing arts companies.

Some prominent examples of Time Warner’s current and past performance art education giving include:

  • A six-year, $525,000 contribution to the “Time Warner Foundation Fellowships, a full-tuition award to the American Film Institute (AFI) Conservatory for students of exceptional promise from statistically underrepresented communities”;
  • A $150,000, two-year award to the Women’s Project Theater’s “WP Lab for Playwrights, Directors and Producers, a two-year residency program for women theater artists”;
  • $200,000 to support expanding the Ghetto Film School's MasterClass, an online course that “connects professional film developers with young storytellers in an interactive forum, with the goal of improving their skills” and culminates with each participant making “a two-minute independent film, using their newly learned techniques”;
  • A three-year grant to the Sundance Institute’s “Sundance Diversity Initiative, as well as the Time Warner Fellowship Program which provides select women and diverse artists with financial support before, during and after the Institute's five labs [in] Narrative Film, Doc Film, Theater, Native Film and Composers”; and
  • Support for the Emerging Writers group at The Public Theater, which “works closely with a diverse group of aspiring playwrights in the early stages of their career, providing them with key support and necessary resources,” including a two-year fellowship.

    In the past, the Time Warner Foundation has also given to general education outfits like a scholarship at the Point Foundation (established to provide scholarships for members of the LGBTQ community) and the United Negro College Fund.

    While the Time Warner Foundation’s commitment to performance arts education and promoting diversity are clear, the means of earning support for your specific project are less so - the foundation does not provide information on its grantmaking policy or how to apply.


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