Doris Duke Charitable Foundation: Grants for Theater

OVERVIEW: The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) is one of the top funders of theater and dance in the country. They regularly make the top 10 list of performing arts funders, but competition can be stiff, as they fund some of the highest profile performance organizations in the U.S. They're known more for their support of dance, but they also give considerable support to various theater companies.

IP TAKE: Doris Duke throws the bulk of their support behind dance performance and jazz, but they also support plenty of theater presenters. If your project or organization combines theater with either jazz or dance, you might have a good chance of gaining their attention.

PROFILE: The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is very much dance oriented; however, there is still plenty of room on their grant roster for non-dance theater productions. The foundation funds the arts to the tune of around $10 million a year. This is in addition to the foundation's other interests in the environment, medical research, and child abuse prevention. Keep in mind that DDCF does not have a grantmaking program exclusively dedicated to theater, though it does have a smaller, theater initiative. Grantseekers should be prepared to compete with all the other performing artists seeking the foundation's help.

DDCFs multi-year grants can range anywhere from $100,000 up to $1 million, though the foundation has awarded more than $1 million to some of the larger organizations in the past, such as Theatre Communications Group. DDCF doesn't award multi-year grants exclusively. Recent grant time frames have ranged from nine months to over six years.

When applying for a theater grant from Doris Duke, keep in mind that the foundation's primary loves are jazz and dance. They have four strategies and you must fulfill at least one of them to qualify for a theater grant.

Artistic Creation and Distribution. This competitive initiative supports the commissioning, production and presentation of new theater works, so if your company is doing something that's old hat, you will likely not qualify. This strategy also offers the ancillary benefits of professional development and the opportunity to participate in theater and arts related conferences. Application for these grants is by invitation only.

Support for Organizations. These grants help performing arts organizations institutionalize exploration, experimentation and/or innovation in addressing future challenges. Grants for theater are available through DDCF's re-granting partner, Theatre Communications Group, through their Audience (R)Evolution program.

National Sector Building. These grants support the rebuilding and strengthening of national performing arts fields. This program only supports national organizations. Grants of $60,000 to $200,000 are available through the Fund for National Projects; however, these grants can cover only up to fifty percent of total project costs. The first step is to submit a letter of inquiry.

Unrestricted Support for Artists. The goal of these grants is 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. Letters of Inquiry are accepted on a rolling basis and there are no set deadlines for submissions.

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