Arts Midwest: Grants for Dance

OVERVIEW: Arts Midwest is a regional arts organization tasked with creating and promoting arts opportunities in the Midwest. Its grants support organizations that have theater, music, dance, and other performing arts groups coming in from all over the world. 

IP TAKE: While the performers and groups can come from anywhere in the world, Arts Midwest only supports arts and culture opportunities in the Midwest. Dance is a big part of its grantmaking; however, grant seekers should remember that the organization does not support performers or artists directly and applications must come from the presenting organizations. Unlike other funders, Arts Midwest seems to encourage eclectic dance style rather than traditional ballet.

PROFILE: Created in 1984, Arts Midwest is the result of a merger between two other organizations that were established by the National Endowment for the Arts in the 1970s in order to strengthen and cultivate arts on a regional level. The organization promotes “creativity, nurtures cultural leadership, and engages people in meaningful arts experiences, bringing vitality to Midwest communities and enriching people’s lives.” Arts Midwest funds “performing, visual, and literary arts and leadership development initiatives” to support arts and culture in the American Midwest, ie. Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. The organization’ conducts its dance grantmaking primarily through Arts Midwest Touring Fund and Arts Midwest World Fest .

Arts Midwest Touring Fund supports “engagements” that “feature a public performance and community activity, and reach an underserved audience with the goal of fostering exchange between professional touring artists and Midwest communities.” Dancers can be Midwest-based so long as they are not local to the presenting venue. The grant generally covers up to 20 percent of the performers’ contract fees, with a standard maximum amount set at $4,000.

To qualify for the grant, grant seekers must make sure the project and its dancers display “excellence and merit.” Arts Midwest does not define what it means by this, but the program’s Spotlight page and past funded events Search Engine will give a sense of what that means in practice. Additionally, the performing group and the presenting venue must partner to create a community engagement activity and reach an underserved audience. Examples of community engagement activities include post-show talkbacks, community workshops, meet-and-greet receptions, and behind-the-scenes tours. Performances that target K-12 students or seniors also qualify as a community engagement activity. Applications, which are made by the presenting organization/venue, are due in the spring.

The Arts Midwest World Fest presents international dance ensembles in intensive week-long residencies in smaller Midwest communities. The program seeks to “foster an understanding of and appreciation for global uniqueness and differences.” This program funds dancers directly. However, performers must be a global dance ensemble.


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