New England Foundation for the Arts: Grants for Music

OVERVIEW: New England Foundation for the Arts supports artists, presenting organizations, and communities engaging in theater, dance, music and the visual arts in New England and beyond.

IP TAKE: New England Foundation for the Arts supports organizations throughout the region that showcase musicians based throughout the U.S. and abroad. It also encourages these organizations to seek new and interesting musicians to bring into their communities.

PROFILE: New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) was established in 1976 as one of six regional arts organizations that received initial funding from the National Endowment for the Arts in order to strengthen and cultivate arts on a regional level. The foundation “invests in artists and communities and fosters equitable access to the arts, enriching the cultural landscape in New England and the nation.” Most of its music funding derives from the Music grantmaking program.  Other performance arts (theater and dance) have specific grants of their own, including those that directly support artistic creation.

These grants are all designed to provide New England-based presenting organizations (based in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont) the opportunity to successfully plan, execute, support, and showcase the work of theater, dance, and music artists from around the world. These presenting groups must have 501(c)(3) status, or be a school or government entity, but need not “formally” be a music or arts organization. 

The largest of these funding opportunities is the Expeditions Touring Grants program, which provides up to 50 percent of artist fees (maximum $10,000 per partner) to cover the cost of multiple performances, residencies, and other contextual outreach activities, travel, accommodations, and per diem. Grantees are expected to collaborate with other potential presenting organizations to maximize a musician’s touring schedule. New grantseekers can peruse the search engine to see current and previous years’ recipients.

NEFA also oversees the Expeditions Tour Planning Grants program, which covers up to $5,000 toward the planning of a tour, such as meetings between potential partners, artist showcases for presenters, workshops to build community interest, and artists' travel to visit presenters' communities. New grantseekers can see previous grant recipients via the search engine.

Its New England States Touring Grants provide up to 50 percent of the artists' fees (typically ranging from $400 to $4,000) for a New England presenting organization to showcase the work of a performance art group that resides in another New England state. Here again, NEFA’s search engine of previous grantees allows new grantees to explore this rich list of performers, organizations, and ideas for opportunity. 

The foundation supports New England-based musicians’ current work, while also encouraging new organization’s to book them in the future. Its New England Presenter Travel Funds provide 50 percent of total expenses (generally ranging from $500 to $700) for presenting organizations to scout festivals, showcases, conferences, or other cultural events where they can see New England-generated artistic work that they may present in their own community. A list of previous grant recipients can be found here.

Even though these four categories have funds supporting potential presenting organizations, the foundation still has qualifications for the artistic output they showcase. NEFA pre-selects New England-based performing arts groups (called NEST artists, and new groups can always apply) for its New England-specific grants. For its Expeditions grants, NEFA requires that performing arts organizations seeking to present display a “high level of artistic quality, exploration, and creativity.”

NEFA not only supplies a very detailed search engine sharing all of its previous grantees in all sectors; it also provides very detailed eligibility and deadline information for each grant opportunity. In the world of music performance granting, NEFA is as thorough and transparent as they come.


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