Andrew W. Mellon Foundation: Grants for Theater

OVERVIEW:  The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's Performing Arts program awards multi-year grants to leading classical music, dance, and theater organizations that "contribute to the development and preservation of their art form, provide creative leadership in solving problems or addressing issues unique to the field, and which present the highest level of institutional performance." These grants support institutions at some of the very highest levels of performance.

IP TAKE:  Mellon makes grants ranging from several thousand dollars to several million, and supports organizations of all sizes (but not individuals). The thing to know is it doesn't accept unsolicited proposals, so if you are interested, you have to submit an inquiry email.

PROFILE: Founded in 1969, The Mellon Foundation was created by the children of Andrew W. Mellon to honor their father, the banker, industrialist, politician, and philanthropist. The foundation seeks to “strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies” and supports “exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work.” Most of Mellon’s theater grantmaking happens through its Arts and Cultural Heritage funding program.

The foundation does not award grants to individuals and the great majority of grants are awarded by invitation only. What this means is that if Mellon does not invite an organization to apply, either on its own or through a submitted inquiry, it will not receive funding. Some of the Foundation's regranting programs through partnership organizations, however, can provide perhaps more accessible opportunities for smaller organizations.

Mellon's overall preference regarding the type and size of grantmaking is varied. In the past, it has given grants to theater companies and theater programs at large universities such as the Penumbra Theater Company which received $575,000 and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign which received $1,000,000 for its Arts program. Grants have also been made to smaller theater companies as well. To see the full grants database, click here.

It should also be noted that none of the Mellon’s grants support individual artists, conservatories, schools of the arts, K-12 arts education programs, capital campaigns, or for the expansion or renovation of buildings and facilities.

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