When a nonprofit dance organizations secures a handful of grants, we here at IP tend to pay attention. So when Dance St. Louis announced it received grants totaling $285,000 from eight different funders for its upcoming season we figured that the organization must be doing something pretty special.
Dance St. Louis is widely recognized as one of the leading dance presenters in St. Louis, the Midwest, and by the professional dance community. They're also very aggressive — and by all accounts, successful — in their attempts to secure funding. The eight funders in this case include Ameren, Emerson, the Monsanto Fund, Whitaker Foundation, Novus International, Inc., the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Gannett Foundation. Taken as a whole, the funding will be used for operational expenses and programming. But a closer look underscores three truly unique offerings that caught the attention of funders.
Unique, locally-flavored, original work — Dance St. Louis' PNC Arts Alive presents original commissioned work where choreographers collaborate with four local professional companies to create four world premieres. The $25,000 grant from Novus International, Inc. helps support this program's upcoming season.
A three-day dance festival featuring nationally-renowned companies — Dance St. Louis puts on a nationally-recognized festival entitled "Emerson Spring to Dance Festival," held in tandem with its sponsor Emerson, which contributed a $70,000 grant to the effort. The festival was also supported by a separate $40,000 grant from the Whitaker Foundation. This combined funding enables Dance St. Louis to present 30 different dance companies from across the U.S. during three days of performances over Memorial Day Weekend.
Educational residencies — Dance St. Louis supplements these performances with its ambitious Monsanto Dance Education Residency Program supported by — you guessed it — Monsanto, which gave a $40,000 grant, and the Gannett Foundation which chipped in $5,000. The program consists of two intensive, three-week dance education programs, including a cross-curricular study guide that's offered each school year in six urban middle and high schools in the St. Louis area.
All of which brings us back to our initial question: how was Dance St. Louis able to secure funding from eight unique groups? Taken as a whole, these three programming elements have a philosophical core that speaks to audience relevance and an eye towards reaching new, changing, and at-risk demographics — things which excite all types of different funders. They also suggest an impressive organizational model built on multiple revenue streams (and of, course, some very effective and talented grant writers).
For more information on how these trends and funding factors are affecting dance organizations across the US, check out our Grant Finder on this topic here.