Arts Midwest: Grants for Music

OVERVIEW: Arts Midwest’s grants fund collaborations between Midwestern communities and performing, visual, and literary arts 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. Music is a big part of its grantmaking; however, grantseekers should remember that the organization does not support performers or artists directly and applications must come from the presenting organizations.

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’s music grantmaking primarily occurs through two funding programs: 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.” Musicians 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 musical artists’ contract fees, with a standard maximum amount set at $4,000.

To qualify for the grant, grantseekers must make sure the music project and its musicians 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 music 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 musical 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 musicians directly. However, performers must be a global music ensemble.


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