The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music: Grants for Theater

OVERVIEW: The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music supports performance, scholarly output and professional development related to the work and lives of Kurt Weill, Lotte Lenya and Marc Blitzstein.

IP TAKE: This is a niche theater funder, limited to the performance and analysis of the work of three artists. But for grant seekers’ whose take on Weill, Lenya or Blitzstein engages new audiences or contextualizes their work in new or diverse ways, there is an opportunity here for valuable support.

PROFILE: Founded in 1962, The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music is named for the famous composer of operas, musical theater, classical music, and film scores. The foundation seeks to administer, promote, and perpetuate the legacies of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya (Weill’s wife and a celebrated actress and singer) and “encourages broad dissemination and appreciation of Weill’s music through support of performances, productions, recordings, and scholarship, and it fosters understanding of Weill's and Lenya's lives and work within diverse cultural contexts.” Though not formally written into the foundation’s mission, the foundation now also supports the legacy of Marc Blitzstein, a successful composer also known for his English translations/adaptations of Weill’s works.

The Kurt Weill Foundation Grant Program is solely focused on these three artists, funding performances of and scholarly research/educational initiatives pertaining to their works. These grants are disseminated around the world, and fall into eight funding categories. The performance-related categories are Professional Performance, College/University Performance, and Media. The professional development categories are Research and Travel, Publication Assistance, Scholarly Symposia/Conferences, Educational Outreach, Community Engagement (all one category), and a Kurt Weill Dissertation Fellowship.

The Professional and College/University Performance categories are the most widely distributed, with multiple grantees each year. This is reinforced through the foundation’s focus on “building upon the legacies” of these artists by nurturing talent—“particularly in the creation, performance, and study of musical theater in its various manifestations.” However, grant seekers should keep in mind that the foundation seeks to support work that “fosters understanding” of these artists’ work and their lives “within diverse cultural contexts.”

Applications for these grants are rigorously assessed. In addition to foundation staff, an independent review panel also contributes (often requesting additional support materials or information from potential grantees). Applications are reviewed not only for the potential quality of the project, the evidence of the grantee’s previous achievements, and the capacity to see the project to fruition, but are also evaluated for the project’s potential reach and impact. “Reach” refers to the size of an audience, quality of the engagement, and potential mutual introduction—new audience and performers being introduced to these artists’ works (particularly their “lesser-known” ones). “Impact” refers to advancing “the understanding and appreciation” of the artists' oeuvres, be it through performance or scholarship—including approaching the work or topic in a way “not previously explored.”

Professional theater nonprofits receiving performance grants from The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music typically range $8,000 - $30,000. Past theater grantees include Lyric Stage (Irving, TX) for its production of Weill's Lady in the Dark, The John F. Kennedy Center/Washington National Opera (Washington, DC) production of Weill's Lost in the Stars, and the Bronx Opera Company (Bronx, NY) for its production of Blitzstein's Regina.

College/university performance grants typically range $4,000 - $12,000. grantees include the Illinois State University (Normal, IL) production of Weill's Street Scene, The New School (New York, NY) production of Weill's Happy End, and University of Maryland's (College Park, MD) production of Blitzstein's Regina.

Additional performance grantees, as well as those for professional development (with grant amounts typically ranging $1,000 - $3,000), can be found here.

The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music has an open application with a November deadline for all projects and performances taking place the following calendar year. (There is an additional June deadline for colleges/universities seeking a performance grant for the following fall semester).

It is also worth noting that “major” professional productions, festivals or exhibitions, or a long-term, large scale educational projects need not adhere to the November deadline at all. The foundation considers this potential level of performance scope (and funding) to be sponsorship rather than grant making. These applications may be submitted at any time—though they request grant seekers reach out to them “well in advance of the event.”

The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music also has a series of performance and scholarship prizes and fellowships, though these place more emphasis on the music side of the equation than its theater aspects.

PEOPLE:

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