It's not exactly breaking news that the world of funding for dance is relatively small and that getting grants for dance organizations or programs can be tough. Still, this task is much easier if you know where to look and stay on point with your letters of inquiry and grant applications. A number of major foundations fund dance at significant levels, and new funders are coming on the scene as very wealthy fans of dance turn to philanthropy. Also, a number of local foundations in top cities give generously to dance.
We're keeping up with what dance funders are doing in the field, and everything we're learning is contained in this guide, which is updated and expanded regularly.
The 3M Foundation invests in a variety of local dance companies.
Its giving focuses on opportunities to support and improve U.S. communities. Performing arts, including dance, are supported because of their importance in cultural enrichment.
This foundation has funded dance companies from underrepresented populations, and supports dance education and advocacy.
Grants primarily go to presenting organizations in the Midwest that bring in touring dancers. But the touring artists and groups can come from anywhere in the world.
Support for dance falls under the Ayrshire Foundation’s Community Culture giving, which the foundation prioritizes with a mission of "supporting local arts and historical institutions to enhance the vibrancy of our communities.”
Capezio backs groups that increase awareness and appreciation for dance in all its forms, and that encourage emerging talents.
Dizzy Feet funds dance education, primarily for students from low-income families.
The foundation was created upon the death of famed music publisher Max Dreyfus, who worked with American greats like George Gershwin and Cole Porter, providing smaller grants that can make a big difference.
One of the better-known dance grantmakers, Doris Duke gives grants that range in size from $20,000 to $2 million. It typically funds nonprofit organizations, but also has an initiative to grant funds to individual contemporary dancers.
The Fidelity Foundation has made arts and culture, including dance, a primary focus of its philanthropy. It takes a rigorous business-model approach to the projects it funds. Doesn't offer general operating support.
Focuses on arts and culture, civic projects, and education through its support of community-driven programs, and often gives small grants to dance organizations.
Makes substantial investments in arts and culture throughout the U.S. Though not a stated restriction, its recent grants have primarily focused on San Francisco. Does not accept unsolicited requests.
Fordney supports children and young adults who wish to dance competitively. It also offers grants to nonprofits that discover and train dancers.
FCA funds diverse dance artists and productions, and is not afraid of controversial or risky projects.
Grants from the Hearst Foundations are for organizations with operating budgets of at least $1 million, and come through their culture funding priority, which includes a substantial commitment to dance.
Jubilation supports grantmaking dedicated to young people's expression of joy through music and dance.
Highly focused on ensuring arts become a key part of disenfranchised communities, and especially support efforts that increase opportunities and access to low-income folks during revitalization.
Macy’s makes substantial and widespread contributions in the area of arts and culture; dance (particularly ballet) is a substantial part of this giving. Some of this happens through the foundation for national dance programming, but much more of it occurs locally through the corporation.
MAP Fund offers grants to diverse artists who challenge social and cultural norms.
Makes grants in five program areas, one of which is "arts and cultural heritage." It funds efforts in performance, art history, and conservation. It also supports increased public access to the arts, research, and collaborative efforts.
This funder is primarily focused on bringing artistic expression into its region, but it wants that artistic work to come from all around the world. Dance performance and community engagement are a primary focus of the foundation's giving through its support of presenting organizations.
Young Arts focuses on dancers in the 15 to 18 age range in the areas of ballet, jazz, modern, tap, world dance, and choreography. The NYAF’s goal is to cultivate and develop the next generation of artists with mentorship, scholarships, and other opportunities.
New England Foundation for the Arts actively and generously gives to artists and arts organizations throughout the United States (and sometimes internationally, too). Dance is at the forefront of this giving.
Awards scholarships and fellowships to individual dancers and choreographers. Nominations must be made by a nonprofit school or dance company.
The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation funds small- and mid-sized visual arts groups and projects.
The Jerome Robbins Foundation was established to support dance, theater and associated arts. It awards about $2 million in grants annually to support outstanding artistic achievement and new works.
Shubert awards grants in only two performing arts fields — theater and dance. Although the foundation tends to favor ballet dance companies, it does support a number of dance disciplines.
The Kevin Spacey Foundation awards grants to emerging artists with unique projects.
The Spring Foundation invests in smaller and local music organizations. The foundation occasionally supports larger musical institutions.
Through its Thriving Cultures Program, Surdna awards grants to organizations that "support efforts to encourage teens to explore the arts, involve artists in community development projects and foster the growth and success of local artists as economic engines and agents for social change."
Union Pacific Foundation places a consistent emphasis on the arts through its directive to “improve and enrich the general quality of life in the community.” Dance makes up the foundation's smallest sliver of arts support, but it's still there.
United States Artists provides highly competitive unrestricted $50,000 fellowships to accomplished and innovative artists across several creative disciplines, including dance and choreography.
Makes travel grants to enable U.S.-based music, dance and theater artists to perform at theater festivals and performing arts markets anywhere in the world.
The U.S Bancorp Foundation is a vibrant grantor to dance organizations within its focus on arts and culture—particularly performance groups. It views this support as part of a larger context of community development and uplift.
The foundation funds arts and culture in the 44 states in which it operates, and dance has a real presence within this realm.
Grants primarily go to presenting organizations, and those must be out west. But artists can come from anywhere in the country—and dance is a headliner.
This isn't a sizeable grantmaking operation, and most grantseekers won't find much promise here. But Daniel Ziff is a billionaire and his wife Leslie has a strong interest in dance. The foundation has made some some significant dance grants that hint at bigger things to come.
Other Regional and Local Funders
The following is a quick list of foundations and endowments that award dance grants in their local and regional areas only.
James Irvine Foundation: The foundation is one of the largest funders of the arts in California. However, since changing its arts grantmaking strategy, funding for dance got a bit tighter. That doesn't mean non-existent. If you live in the Golden State, you definitely need to check out Irvine.
San Francisco Foundation: The Foundation's Arts and Culture Program focuses on small and mid-sized organizations with annual operating budgets of between $100,000 and $2 million located in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco or San Mateo Counties. Grants for dance generally range from $5,000 to $20,000.
The New York Community Trust: Granting over $15 million annually, the New York Community trust awards arts grants across all disciplines to mid-sized organizations with annual operating budgets of between $250,000 and $2 million. The trust accepts grant applications on an ongoing basis, but only reviews them five times per year.
William Penn Foundation: The foundation awards over $30 million in arts and culture grants to Philadelphia-based organizations yearly, with recent dance grants going mostly to Dance/USA. Penn is one of the top 10 foundations for arts and culture grants in the United States, so it's worth taking a look at its Creative Community Program and the new grant guidelines.
Pew Center for Arts and Heritage: Dance Advance: Focusing on the five-county metro Philly region, Dance Advance grants range from $75,000. Explore Dance Advance's grant guidelines to see if your organization qualifies.
Amon G. Carter Foundation: The Amon G. Carter Foundation awards grants to ballet organizations located in Texas. That's not to say that ballet is the Carter Foundation's only dance focus, so it certainly wouldn't hurt to check out its grants policies.