New England States Touring (NEST) funds performances, readings, and screenings of work by regional, national, and international artists presented by New England-based nonprofit organizations.

The NEST program continues to shift each deadline to best respond to the current state of arts presenting. Potential applicants should review guidelines and eligibility carefully prior to applying. Applicants are also highly encouraged to contact NEFA staff to confirm that their project fits the program.

About the New England States Touring Grant Program

There are three distinct grant opportunities for New England nonprofit organizations: NEST 1, NEST 2, and NEST 3. Proposed performance(s) and engagement activities may begin three months after the deadline. Organizations serving rural communities and/or deeply engaging Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities are encouraged to apply.

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, there are several changes to NEST for NEFA’s FY22 grantmaking:

  • NEST 1 will only have deadlines in August 2021 and March 2022. The March 2022 deadline has been extended to March 8.
  • There will not be a NEST 2 deadline in August or December 2021.
  • NEST grants may support online performances and community engagement activities.


Funds the public presentation and engagement of a New England artist presented by a New England nonprofit organization.

  • The nonprofit organization must be located in a different New England state from the performing artist’s home state.
  • Typically, there are three application deadlines each year. They are the first business days of August, December, and March. Please note the changes above for FY22.
  • Grants provide up to 60% of the artist fee and range from $500 to a maximum of $5,000. Applications with artist fees under $2,000 may request the full artist fee. 
  • The artist must be listed as NEST-Eligible on the CreativeGround directory.


Funds tours of New England-based artists where one presenting organization is based inside of the artist’s home state and one other organization is applying from outside of the artist’s home state.

  • Both presenting organizations must submit their own application and both applications must be submitted at the same deadline.
  • Typically, there are three application deadlines each year. They are the first business days of August, December, and March. Please note the changes above for FY22.
  • Grants provide up to 60% of the artist fee and range from $500 to a maximum of $5,000. Applications with artist fees under $2,000 may request the full artist fee. 
  • The artist must be listed as NEST-Eligible on the CreativeGround directory.


In NEFA’s FY22, funds tours of presentations by New England nonprofit organizations of regional, national, or international artists that include a minimum of two (formerly three) presenting organizations in different communities. The organizations applying must be from at least two different New England states.

  • Organizations may submit up to three applications; a lead partner is no longer required, as it was in the Expeditions grant.
  • The single annual deadline is in March.
  • Grants provide up to 60% of the artist fee to a maximum of $10,000.
  • New England artists must be listed as NEST-Eligible on CreativeGround.
  • For non-New England artists, an artist work sample must be submitted by one of the touring partners.
  • Grant period: Touring projects must occur between June 1, 2022 and December 31, 2023.

NEST grants are awarded through a competitive selection process, and the amount of funding awarded is based on the extent to which the project meets the funding criteria.

Visit the New England States Touring Program page to learn more about program goals, advisors, NEFA's annual Idea Swap, and more.



To be eligible for NEST funding, applicants must:

  • Be a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, school, federally recognized Indian tribal government, or unit of state or local government. (Nonprofit organizations do not have to be arts organizations. Organizations that do not have a federal tax identification number may apply if part of an official government agency).
  • Be based in New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont).
  • The federal government now requires that all NEFA organizational grant recipients supported by federal funds register for DUNS numbers. If you are unsure if the applicant has a DUNS number or to sign up to receive a DUNS number, go to:
  • Applicants must be able to provide documentation of their compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Please visit our Arts & Accessibility page for details.
  • Maintain an updated profile in the CreativeGround directory for their cultural nonprofit. (For assistance, see the CreativeGround profile tips page, and aim for a profile score of 16.) If the applicant nonprofit is not a cultural or arts-based organization, please contact Falyn Rose Elhard (they/them/theirs) to confirm your organization's qualification for a CreativeGround profile.
  • A public presentation for literary projects must include a public reading by the NEST-eligible artist.
  • A public presentation for film projects must include a public film screening with the NEST-eligible artist/filmmaker.

NEST will not fund:

  • Activities and programs which take place exclusively in schools during class time.
  • Events that are not open to the public and advertised accordingly.
  • Fundraisers.
  • Events outside of the six New England states.
  • Performances in which the performers are primarily students.
  • Self-produced presentations by artists/ensembles.
  • Producing organizations inviting a guest artist (such as a conductor or soloist) to perform as part of a performance by the producing organization.
  • Presentations of artistic work with funding available through the National Dance Project or National Theater Project.

Find NEST Artists or Become a NEST Artist on CreativeGround

CreativeGround houses the directory of all New England artists (NEST artists) who may be chosen by NEST applicants for funding. Learn more about NEST artists on the NEST program page.

To find NEST-eligible artists:

  1. Go to and click ‘Search’ at the top of the page.  
  2. Select ‘Special Designations’ and then select ‘NEST-Eligible Artist’ along with any other search criteria that you need, such as state or discipline.

If a presenter is interested in applying for an artist who is not currently NEST-eligible then the artist(s) should follow the instructions under the NEST Artist Requirements. All artists who wish to qualify for NEST funding must maintain an artist profile on CreativeGround.

How to create your NEST-eligible CreativeGround profile

All artists who wish to qualify for NEST funding must maintain an artist profile on CreativeGround. Follow these instructions.

Funding Criteria & Priorities

NEST grants are awarded through a competitive selection process. Grants are available in amounts of up to 60% of the artists' fees and range from $500 to $10,000. Requests below $500 will not be accepted. In the March 2022 grant cycle, applications with artist fees under $2,000 may request the full artist fee.  Artists’ fees may include costs for creation of new work, travel, and per diem.

Funding Criteria

The amount of funding awarded is based on the extent to which the project meets the criteria. NEST 3 projects will be assessed on the individual strength of each partner’s application and the collective strength of the tour. The funding criteria are:

  • Clear rationale for how the project aligns with the organization’s arts programming goals and its significance for the community.
  • Collaborative planning among tour partners and artists. The featured artist(s) should be included in project planning. (Applicable for NEST 2 & 3 only).
  • Additional activities beyond the performance, which provide opportunities for the artist(s) in this engagement to meaningfully connect with various sectors of the community. Cross-sector exchanges (connecting arts and non-arts organizations) and collaboration are strongly encouraged.
  • Expands access to the arts for all New England communities, including rural and/or Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. NEFA acknowledges structural inequities that have excluded individuals and communities from opportunity based on race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, class, age, language, culture, and geography, and strives to counter those inequities in our work. Please see NEFA’s values statement regarding Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility.


  • A budget that reflects revenue from a variety of sources, including admissions, sponsorships, private foundations, individuals, and/or government agencies.

NEFA strongly encourages charging admission to performances and events for the following reasons:

  • Admissions are a vital source of income to help pay artist fees and other event expenses.
  • Admissions remind audiences that the work of artists has distinct value and that the professionals involved must make a living from their endeavors in order to continue.
  • Admissions purchased through advance ticket sales help ensure attendance.
  • Admissions purchases provide patron information that can aid in marketing, fundraising, and audience development.

Process & Deadlines


Online applications must be submitted before midnight on the deadline date. Applications must be submitted a minimum of three months in advance of the proposed project. Applicants will be notified by early to mid-May.

Online reports must be submitted within 40 days from the end of the artist engagement to receive reimbursement. Full instructions are in the Requirements & Reports for Grant Recipients section, found below.

NEFA staff is available for assistance Monday-Friday, 9:00 AM-5:00 PM ET.


Please see “About the New England States Touring Grant Program” above for up-to-date deadlines for NEFA’s FY22 grantmaking.

NEST 1 & 2 grant deadlines typically occur three times a year, or every four months, as follows:

  • First business day of August, for projects beginning on or after November 1.
  • First business day of December, for projects beginning on or after March 1.
  • First business day of March, for projects beginning on or after June 1.

The annual NEST 3 grant deadline will be the first business day of March.   

Reductions in Artist Fees

NEST grant amounts are determined based on the proposed artistic fee; therefore, reductions in artist fees may result in the reduction or cancellation of your grant. Grant recipients must notify NEFA of any changes in fees paid to the artist(s) or project plans as soon as possible, preferably in advance of the event. NEFA does not guarantee funding if the project differs substantially from the original application. Requests for changes will be considered on a case-by-case basis, and may change the amount of the grant award.

Requirements & Reports for Grant Recipients

Grant payments will be made upon receipt of the following which must be submitted within 40 days after the funded event:

  1. A completed online Grantee Report for each grant. Click "Return to your grant request" below to log-in to your portal account to find and submit your online report(s). If you need technical assistance, please email Falyn Rose Elhard (they/them/theirs).
     RETURN TO YOUR GRANT application
  2. A copy of the signed contract or letter of agreement (with printed name and title) between your organization and the artist(s) presented. 
  3. Copies of letters of appreciation sent to your federal and/or state legislators. This is to inform them about the purpose of this award and the impact it will have on your organization’s activities and service to the community. 
  4. Copies of program and publicity materials showing acknowledgement of NEFA’s funding. See NEFA logo and crediting information for details.

Failure to provide this material within 40 days of the event may result in cancellation of the grant and all pending NEFA grants. If the performance date is changed or cancelled, or if you anticipate a delay in submission of materials, please contact Falyn Rose Elhard. 

Matching Grant to Present Indigenous Performing Artists

Western Arts Alliance (WAA) launched the Advancing Indigenous Performance (AIP) Touring Fund, a grant opportunity for presenters of Native performing artists.

The AIP Touring Fund provides matching fee support to presenting organizations, which engage eligible performing artists through the touring programs of the six Regional Arts Organizations. Arts organizations outside of New England should contact their RAO about the matching support. Arts organizations in New England receiving funding through NEFA’s New England States Touring (NEST) for a project featuring Indigenous artists can receive an additional dollar-for-dollar match – up to 50% of the artist fee – from the AIP Touring Fund.

Learn more