Doris Duke Charitable Foundation: Grants for Theater

OVERVIEW: The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) is one of the largest grantmakers in performing arts philanthropy. It prioritizes funding for larger institutions in the creation and public performance of their work, although it does support individual artists through grants administered by intermediaries. It is known for its support of dance, but it also gives considerable support to various theater companies.

IP TAKE: Doris Duke prioritizes support for dance performance and jazz, but it also funds plenty of theater presenters. Grant seekers whose project or organization combines theater with either jazz or dance will have a better chance of attracting Duke's attention.

PROFILE: The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) seeks to “improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties.” The Foundation prioritizes larger theater organizations over smaller ones, though this is not always the case as the occasional smaller program has received funding in the past. It does its theater grantmaking through its Performing Arts funding area.

DDCF primarily supports two types of major organizations: established theater institutions and organizations that make grants and provide support to individuals and smaller theater companies. The foundation has four major grantmaking strategies:

Artistic Creation and Touring - This competitive initiative supports the commissioning, production, and presentation of new works. DDCF does not currently offer grants directly through this initiative; rather they are offered through intermediaries, the Creative Capital Foundation, the National Performance Network, and the New England Foundation for the Arts.

Support for Organizations - Grants awarded under this initiative support innovative approaches to addressing current concerns in the performing arts, such as audience engagement and retention. Currently DDCF offers grants through the National Subsidy Programs and Theatre Communications Group’s Audience R(E)volution.

Unrestricted Support for Artists. This grant seeks to strengthen a fair and sustainable system of unrestricted support to individual artists across the country. Currently DDCF only supports artists through fellowship programs at United States Artists.

Some past awards by Doris Duke for Theater include $155,000 to Epic Theater, $225,000 to Latino Theater Company, and $40,000 to Cornerstone Theater Company. Note that the foundation does not take unsolicited proposals, but it does accept letters of inquiry.

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