New England States Touring (NEST) funds the presentation of regional, national, and international artists presented by New England-based nonprofit organizations.

About the New England States Touring Grant Program

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts on the arts sector, there are significant changes to the NEST grant guidelines for the March 2021 deadline.  

Organizations may apply to present artists residing in any location (local, regional, national, and international) for performances and community engagement activities that are virtual or in-person.

  • Organizations may submit up to three NEST applications; the total amount requested across all three applications may not exceed $15,000.
  • Organizations with budgets above $500,000 may request up to 75% of the artist fee.
  • Organizations with budgets below $500,000 may request up to 100% of the artist fee.
  • Presenting partners are not required for any application, although partnership and collaboration are encouraged.

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 criteria. Funded organizations will receive a minimum of 50% of their grant request.

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. See NEST Presenter Profile Recommendations for instructions. If the applicant nonprofit is not a cultural or arts-based organization, please contact Falyn Elhard (they/them/theirs) to confirm your organization's qualification for a CreativeGround profile.

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.
  • 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 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 ‘Enhanced Options’ and then select ‘Profile is NEST eligible’ 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. 

  1. Follow these step by step instructions, or
  2. watch this video tutorial:

Funding Criteria

NEST grants are awarded through a competitive selection process. For March 2021 only, grants are available in amounts of up to 75% - 100% of the artists' fees and range from $400 to $15,000. Requests below $400 will not be accepted. Artists’ fees may include costs for creation of new work, online engagement, travel, and per diem.

Funding Criteria

The amount of funding awarded is based on the extent to which the project meets the criteria. The funding criteria are:

  • Clear rationale for how the project aligns with the organization’s arts programming goals and its significance for the community.
  • 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. 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.

In addition to the funding criteria, priority will be given to:

  • Projects which include partnerships with other New England presenting organizations whether through collaborative booking or co-presenting activities.
  • Organizations that have historically had less access to financial resources, especially those in rural communities and/or deeply engaging Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities.
  • Organizations that have not already received NEST funding in FY21 (June 1, 2020 – May 31, 2021)

Process & Deadlines


Online applications must be submitted before midnight on the deadline date. Applicants will be notified in mid to late May 2021.

Online grantee reports must be submitted no more than 40 days after the artist engagement to receive reimbursement. Full instructions are in the Requirements & Reports for Grant Recipients section.

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


Due to NEFA’s response to the sector during the COVID-19 crisis and ongoing changes to the arts sector, the NEST deadlines for 2021 are March 15 and August 2. Program guidelines may shift for the August deadline. More information will be available in early summer.

Typically, NEST 1 & 2 grant deadlines 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 in 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 Adrienne Petrillo

Matching Grant to Present Indigenous Performing Artists

Funding is available for presenters of Indigenous performing artists through the Advancing Indigenous Performance (AIP) Touring Fund grant opportunity. The AIP Touring Fund is a program of the Western Arts Alliance (WAA) in partnership with NEFA.

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 (RAO/s). 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) program 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. The availability of matching funds for projects occurring in June 2021 – August 2022 is contingent upon renewed funding for this program.

Learn more


Watch the webinar, above, or read the webinar transcript.