Chamber Music America: Grants for Music

OVERVIEW: Chamber Music America serves ensemble music professionals, including a grants program that supports composition and incentivizes new connections between musicians and presenters. 

IP TAKE: If you’re a jazz or contemporary classical chamber music composer, ensemble, or presenting organization, Chamber Music America’s grants are up your alley. But keep in mind this framework: Almost all its grants are awarded to presenting organizations. So if you’re a composer or an ensemble member, the key is to collaborate with presenters. 

PROFILE:  The aim of Chamber Music America is to “facilitate the creation, performance and enjoyment of chamber music throughout North America.” One avenue of facilitation is the organization’s grant program, which focuses on composition and presentation of jazz, classical chamber music, and new world chamber music—ultimately with the aim to disseminate the art and traditions of these forms to as wide an audience as possible. 

Chamber Music America puts its grants in the hands of the largest entity involved in any given enterprise. For example, composition grants (New Jazz Works and the Classical Commissioning Program) go to the ensemble (in the case of jazz) and/or a presenting organization (in the case of classical) that will debut the performance of the work applied for in the grant--not to the composer him/herself. Chamber Music America understands the life cycle of new music creation, as reflected in the structure of its grant awards. Specific monies are earmarked to the composer for the work’s creation, to the ensemble’s musicians for rehearsals and performances, and even to cover administrative costs, including such mundane but necessary elements as photocopying. Add it all up, and the Classical Commissioning Program will award up to $22,000 for a new work; the New Jazz Works program tops at $34,000.

Chamber Music America doubles down on jazz by providing additional support to presenting organizations (regardless of whether they’re debuting a new work) through its Presenter Consortium for Jazz. The key word here is “consortium.” Chamber Music America awards these grants to U.S. presenters (who must be 501(c)(3) organizations) to team up in threes and “collectively engage” U.S. jazz ensembles to perform at each presenter’s venue. There are extra incentives in place for three-team consortiums that commit to presenting the new compositions that Chamber Music America supports through its New Jazz Works program. All in, these grants can amount to $13,000 per presenting partner.

Chamber Music America’s third grant throughline is its Residency Partnership Program, available to both jazz and contemporary classical ensembles. The emphasis here is new audience development. The organization doesn’t want to fund interactions between ensembles and already-indoctrinated music students; rather, it seeks to encourage “building audiences” for these music forms through activities “that take place in community settings and that are not part of a regular concert series.” Chamber Music America suggests looking at this through the lens of interactive or audience engagement programs in classrooms (preschool through high school), libraries, hospitals, senior centers, and other community centers, for starters. Either the music ensemble or the presenting venue can apply for these grants. If it’s a presenting venue spearheading the application, that venue must be a 501(c)(3). Grants in this category top out at $6,000 for short-term residencies (up to three days) and $12,000 for long-term residencies (between one month and one year).

There are many more details regarding eligibility and execution for each of these grant programs, all well-articulated on Chamber Music America’s website. Applications are also online, with deadlines varying throughout the year.

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