Doris Duke Foundation: Grants for College Performing Arts

OVERVIEW: Colleges and universities consistently receive a share of arts grants from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF). The foundation's performing arts strategy has four specific subprograms that support performance, organizational transformation, national sector building, and building demand for the arts. Overall, the focus is on dance, jazz, and theater. The foundation also underwrites a number of regranting programs designed to support performing and visual arts programs at colleges and through arts groups.

IP TAKE: True, the Duke Foundation's support for college arts programs is somewhat limited, but this small number of grants represents big money for the select awardees. Even though unsolicited proposals are not accepted, the foundation does sometimes have open competitive grants, and invites LOI's.

PROFILE: The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation works “to improve the quality of people's lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke's properties.”

Within that context, the Performing Arts program is dedicated  “to support[ing] artists with the creation and public performance of their work.” The program divides support between both individual artists and organizations, with their own set of goals and requirements. The $50 million program is designed to serve as a catalyst for projects that build interest in the arts with diverse audiences. Launched in 2012, the initiative is a 10-year program, so artists at colleges and universities still have time to get to know this critical funding source. Organizational support tends to center on audience engagement, leadership grants, and support for “national arts organizations and projects that are critical to the health of the dance, jazz, presenting and/or theater fields, in an effort to strengthen the sector and the variety of services available to artists.”

Grants range in the thousands to tends of thousands for organizations; low thousands for individuals. The foundation prioritizes colleges and universities through its organizational grants for the performing arts. While DDCF does not have a grantmaking program strictly dedicated to college performing arts, its overall focus in the area is more limited than other foundations whose performing arts giving is more directly tied to higher education. DDCF also hosts a grants database of past awards. Duke also features a Grantee Spotlight blog that can give further insight into its priorities, as well as an Open Competitions & Funding Opportunities page that may be worth the occasional review.

DDCF does consider “unsolicited proposals […] at this time.” There is always the possibility for future funding, and the foundation welcomes letters of inquiry. Before sending that LOI, however, be sure to review the very specific list of performing arts projects the foundation does not fund to make sure your initiative is eligible.


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