Adolf Busch Award: Grants for Music

OVERVIEW: The Adolph Busch Award was established in 2016 to highlight and reward individual musicians and music organizations that use music for social good.

IP TAKE: As of this posting, this is a brand new award, and its inaugural winner will not be announced until 2017. But the organization makes it clear that “social good” is the purpose—and that music is simply the conduit of that purpose. Use this as your guide for the application.

PROFILE: The Adolf Busch Award was officially announced in early 2016 "with one sole purpose: to recognize and reward individuals and organizations that use music for social good." In that vein, the award will distribute one annual prize of $10,000.

Officially, the mission of the organization is to “recognize and support individuals who use music to promote a more civil and just society.” The award is named for the famous musician, a German born but eventual Swiss citizen who vocally opposed Hitler and the Nazi regime. In the shadow of that namesake, the Adolf Busch Award is “given in recognition of those who have demonstrated compassion and creativity in enhancing socioeconomic opportunity, supporting education and mentorship, and addressing bias and oppression in its many forms.”

That’s an empowering and broad umbrella for how a musician or music organization can spark change, but since it’s built on a legacy of profound historical events, it’s likely that awardees will also be working on very visible, cultural playing fields. In fact, the organization references El Sistema, Polyphony Foundation, and the International Music Sessions as its models of inspiration—all three of which are notably committed to cultural and cross-cultural awareness, tolerance and exchange. 

Music may be the platform, but “social good” is the purpose. A few more keywords to clue you into the award's interests can be found in the description of its Board of Advisors, who, while active in music both professionally and personally, more importantly “believe that music can be an effective tool for addressing cultural bias, lack of opportunity, educational disadvantages, and other issues that are the result of economic or cultural challenges in our society.”

As of this writing, the organization has yet to issue its first award (scheduled for early 2017), but its initial stage application is open to any individual or organization in either the U.S. or abroad that uses music as its “primary vehicle” to advance the Busch award's mission. 

The organization also makes a point of stating that its $10,000 prize comes with no performance obligations—another reinforcement that while only musicians can apply, the point isn’t the music per se. In fact, the brief initial application doesn’t ask anything directly about your music-making at all.

This brief initial application is due at the end of June. From there the Award will choose 10 finalists for another (presumably more rigorous) round of applications.

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