USArtists International: Grants for Theater

OVERVIEW: USArtists International provides grants to U.S.-based music, dance, and theater performers at well-regarded festivals and performing arts markets anywhere in the world.

IP TAKE: USArtists International provides for a unique travel grant, defraying the costs of performing artists who showcase their acts abroad. Solo and ensemble theater performers are significant beneficiaries of these grants, but grant seekers must be a non-profit entity (or fiscally sponsored by a reputable one).

PROFILE: USArtists International (USAI) is a program of the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation in partnership with the National Endowment of the Arts, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Howard Gilman Foundation, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. It “supports performances by U.S. artists at important cultural festivals and arts marketplaces around the globe.”

USAI supports performers by defraying costs, which can be significant even for solo theater performances, let alone groups. The program recognizes the scope of these expenses, and the grants will cover travel, housing, per diem, shipping, visa fees, and agents’ fees—up to $15,000 worth, though typically dispensed in the $1,000 - $10,000 range.

There are, of course, stipulations as to what types of international performances qualify. USAI covers festival and performing arts markets, both of which need to be curated—meaning performers must be selected to perform; it is not open-entry. The festival or market also needs to be international in scope, a bill that either singularly touts American performing artists or represents performing artists from at least two countries beyond the host nation. The festival or performing arts market also has to program a “consistently high level of activity,” including performances, lectures, and workshops.

Additionally, performers must be talented to garner a USAI grant. USAI states that it seeks “artistic excellence,” which it does not define. It will judge for itself when it reviews work samples and looks over a grant seeker’s performing resume. USAI also requires grant seekers’ potential performance on the international scene to demonstrate “artistic merit”: What does this performance mean for professional development? What are the “significance” and the “quality” of the festival or performing arts market themselves?  Lastly, USAI seeks diversity within all these forms of excellence.

Past grantees include The Actors’ Gang, the Double Edge Theatre , and the Elevator Repair Service among many others.

Theatrical performers/programs must have 501(c)(3) status, or else be fiscally sponsored by a reputable non-profit agency. Applications are online, and are administered by the Mid Atlantic Arts Alliance. There are three deadlines each year: in April, September, and December. Each deadline is synced with performances set to happen about three months later, and grant seekers will hear if they have received the grant about 10 weeks after each application deadline.


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