Chamber Music America: Grants for Music

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

IP TAKE: For grantseekers who are a jazz or contemporary classical chamber music composer, ensemble, or presenting organization, Chamber Music America’s grants are worth looking into. However, it is important to keep in mind that almost all its grants are awarded to presenting organizations. So for composers or ensemble members, the key is to collaborate with presenters. 

PROFILE:  Created in 1977 by musicians, Chamber Music America seeks to “facilitate the creation, performance and enjoyment of chamber music throughout North America.” One avenue of facilitation is the organization’s grant programs, which focus 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 awards its grants to 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 amounts 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 are 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, which emphasizes new audience development and is available to both jazz and contemporary classical ensembles. The organization does not want to fund interactions between ensembles and already-reached 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 a presenting venue is 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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