OVERVIEW: New England Foundation for the Arts operates with the mission “to build connections among artists, arts organizations, and funders, powering the arts to energize communities in New England, the nation, and the world.” It supports artists, presenting organizations, and communities engaging in theater, dance, music and the visual arts.
IP TAKE: Don’t let this foundation’s name fool you; 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.
PROFILE: New England Foundation for the Arts was established in 1976 as one of six regional arts organizations receiving initial funding from the National Endowment for the Arts in order to strengthen and cultivate arts on a regional level. Today, New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) still does operate regional grants and programs, but also supports dance artists creating, developing, and showcasing their projects anywhere in the country.
NEFA achieves this through a variety of specific grant programs. Some are specific to dance, while others share coffers with theater and music programs as well. All of the foundation’s grant programs “aim to provide access to high quality arts experiences for the underserved, including projects that feature artistic expressions from diverse cultures and geographies.”
Specifically for dance creators, NEFA’s coveted National Dance Project Production Grant is first among several equals. Approximately 20 choreographers/dance companies receive this grant each year, with amounts typically in the $30,350 - $45,000 range. This money pays for the creation and development process of a dance piece that will then tour nationally. A portion of this grant is also earmarked for the artists to allocate funds to presenting organizations, who use those funds to pay the artists their appearance fees—so it goes right back into the creators’ pockets while relieving presenting organizations of some of their expenses. (This is formally called the NEFA’s National Dance Project Presentation Grant.)
Another key grant opportunity for choreographers and dance companies as they develop their new work are NEFA’s National Dance Project Production Residencies for Dance Grants. These grants support end-stage of development where dancers, “in collaboration with residency partners, can access technical facilities and staff and gain significant artistic, directorial, and/or dramaturgical input to produce works that are more fully realized and ready to tour.” These grants are meant to be implemented either just before or just after a dance piece’s premiere (but prior to the work’s tour). These grants are only open to choreographers and companies who have previously received a National Dance Production Grant; it’s seen as the next phase of the work’s development.
Whether or not a choreographer or dance company has received a development grant from NEFA, once a new dance piece is ready to tour it is eligible for NEFA’s National Dance Project Touring Award. This grant goes to the choreographer or dance company, but it is directly linked to the National Dance Project Presentation Grants that go to exhibiting venues. The foundation gives out up to 10 of these Touring Awards annually, with a standard amount of $35,000. The dance companies use them to distribute cash to potential presenting organizations; the organizations then give the cash back to the dancers/choreographer/company as their artist fees.
Another grant to consider is the New England Dance Fund which gives between $500 and $1,000 to choreographers who "identify and articulate a critical opportunity that will significantly advance their career in dance."
If you live in the Boston area, you can check the Creative City Grant which offers grants for a variety of artistic disciplines.
NEFA also provides additional dance support through grant programs that dance “shares” with theater and music. They are all presenter-focused, and built to encourage New England-based presenting organizations (based in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont) the opportunity to successfully plan, execute, support, and showcase the work of dance, theater, and music artists from around the world. These presenting groups must have 501(c)(3) status, or be a school or government entity, but need not “formally” be a theater or arts organization.
These funding opportunities include:
- Expeditions Touring Grants, which provide up to 50 percent of artist fees (maximum $10,000 per partner to cover the cost for multiple performances, residencies, and other contextual outreach activities, travel, accommodations, and per diem.
- Expeditions Tour Planning Grants, which provide up to $5,000 for the planning of a tour, such as meetings between potential partners, artist showcases for presenters, workshops to build community interest, and artists' travel to visit presenters' communities.
- New England States Touring Grants, which provide up to 50 percent of the artists' fees (typically ranging from $400 to $4,000) for a New England presenting organization to showcase the work of a performance art group that resides in another New England state.
- New England Presenter Travel Funds, which provide 50 percent of total expenses (generally ranging from $500 to $700) for presenting organizations to scout festivals, showcases, conferences, or other cultural events where they can see New England-generated artistic work that they may present in their own community.
To see a full list of past grantees, click here to access the grants database. NEFA not only supplies a very detailed search engine sharing all of its previous grantees in all sectors; it also provides very detailed eligibility and deadline information for each grant opportunity. In the world of dance granting, and arts in general, NEFA is as thorough and transparent as they come.