Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation: Grants for Theater

OVERVIEW: Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation supports artistic work created by, presented to, and engaged with its geographic region.

IP TAKE: Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation seeks to bring artistic expression to its region. However, that artistic work can come from all around the world. This foundation supports the performing arts through its funding of presenting organizations. It supports theater, though less than dance and music.

PROFILE: Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, or MAAF, is a vigorous funder of the arts and supporter of creators who live and work all over the United States and abroad. The foundation seeks to develop “partnerships and programs that reinforce artists’ capacity to create and present work and advance access to and participation in the arts.” MAAF provides grants to a wide range of artists and organizations.

For the foundation’s purposes, the Mid-Atlantic region consists of Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. However, it also supports the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The biggest of MAAF’s funding programs is ArtsCONNECT, a program that prioritizes teamwork: It supports projects in which at least three Mid Atlantic performing arts presenters from two different states work collaboratively to present a touring solo performer or organization. 

The consortium’s plan must include public performances as well as community outreach engagements; ideally, both of these elements should reach underserved communities. Grant seekers should read the guidelines carefully, especially the details regarding which presenting organizations can band together to submit an application

MAAF grants each presenting organization between $1,000 to $10,000 to bring the theater group to its stage and its community. (This can go up to $15,000 if new, commissioned work is being presented.) This dollar range reflects MAAF’s commitment to covering 50 percent of each presenting organization’s costs—including actors' appearance fees, travel, lodging, and performance operating expenses.

Applications that make the cut are presenting companies who demonstrate “artistic excellence,” which MAAF measures in part by awards, honors, previous grants, and performance history. The theater artist or ensemble being presented must also have a proven history of “experience in touring.” 

Past theater groups who have recently been presented and supported by ArtsCONNECT funds include The Actors Gang (based in Culver City, CA), Aquila Theater Co-mpany (based in New York, NY), chelfitsch Theater Company (based in Tokyo, Japan),and Kashu-juku Noh Theater (based in Shiga-ken, Japan). MAAF provides a list of its current tours.

In a similar vein, MAAF also operates a Special Presenter Initiatives program. It is a microcosm of ArtsCONNECT, specifically geared towards bringing performance to Delaware, West Virginia, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands (the smallest populations in the Mid Atlantic region) with grants ranging from $500 to $5,000. For this program, the performance groups must be from the Mid Atlantic or reside outside of the U.S.

MAAF also operates a program specific to South American performing arts. Southern Exposure is a grant program that "brings exemplary contemporary and traditional performing arts from Latin America to audiences in the United States." This program operates as a hybrid, partly like ArtsCONNECT in that it funds presenting organizations to bring in performance groups, and partly as a curator, since it selects a roster of groups the presenting organizations can bring in. Theater ensembles on the roster include Imaginarios from Venezuela and Christiane Jatahy from Brazil.

Lastly, theater companies whose home base is either in the Mid Atlantic region or outside of the U.S. may want to seek out the opportunity to join MAAF’s Mid Atlantic Tours roster, which puts grant seekers on a touring bill traveling throughout the region with the foundation’s oversight.

To access the database of past grantees, click here, and grant seekers can sign up for the newsletter here.

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