USArtists International: Grants for Dance

OVERVIEW: USArtists International provides grants to U.S.-based music, dance, and theater artists to perform at well-regarded festivals and performing arts markets anywhere and everywhere else in the world.

IP TAKE: USArtists International provides for a unique travel grant, defraying the costs of performing artists who showcase their acts abroad. Solo and ensemble dance performances are the topline beneficiaries of these grants, but be sure you're a non-profit entity (or fiscally sponsored by a reputable one).

PROFILE: USArtists International (USAI) is a joint program of Mid Atlantic Arts Alliance, the National Endowment of the Arts, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that focuses on showcasing the range of American performing arts talent to the rest of the world.

USAI does this by defraying costs, which can be significant even for solo dance performances, let alone troupes. The program recognizes the scope of these expenses, and the grants will cover travel, housing, per diem, shipping, visa fees, and agents’ fees—up to $15,000 worth, though typically dispensed in the $1,000 - $10,000 range.

There are, of course, stipulations as to what types of international performances qualify. USAI covers festival and performing arts markets, both of which need to be curated—meaning you are selected to perform your dance piece; it’s not open-entry. The festival or market also needs to be international in scope, a bill that either singularly touts American performing artists or represents performing artists from at least two countries beyond the host nation. The festival or performing arts market also has to program a “consistently high level of activity,” including performances, lectures, and workshops.

And of course, you have to be a very good dance act yourself in order to garner a USAI grant. USAI is looking for “artistic excellence,” which it doesn’t define but will judge for itself when it reviews your work samples and takes a look at your performing resume.

USAI is also looking for your potential performance on the international scene to demonstrate “artistic merit”: What does this performance mean for your professional development? What are the “significance” and the “quality” of the festival or performing arts market themselves? 

Lastly, USAI seeks diversity within all these forms of excellence, stating: “Priority consideration is given to those application that are exemplary in meeting the review criteria and foster the program’s goals of broad domestic and international geographic representation as well as diverse aesthetic expression.”

For more insight into how USAI defines some of these more subjective assessments, here’s a look at some of the recent dance artists the program has recently supported, and where they performed:

  • Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company (based in NJ) performed at the Sarajevo Winter Festival, Bosnia and Herzegovina;
  • Doug Varone and Dancers (based in NY) performed at the Lima International New Dance Festival, Peru;
  • Lisa Fay and Jeff Glassman (based in IL) performed at the Daehangno Small Theatre Festival, South Korea;
  • Margaret Jenkins Dance Company (based in CA) performed at the Israel Festival, Israel;

    One other note of selction logistics: dancers/ensembles must have 501(c)(3) status, or else be fiscally sponsored by a reputable non-profit agency.

    Applications are online, and are administered by the Mid Atlantic Arts Alliance. There are three deadlines each year: in April, September, and December. Choose the deadline that links up with the dates you intend to perform internationally; each deadline is synced with performances set to happen about three months later, and you’ll hear if you’ve received the grant about 10 weeks after each application deadline.


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