About the National Theater Pilot

The National Theater Pilot explores creating a system of support for professional artist-led collaborative theater. Modeled after NEFA’s National Dance Project, and with leadership funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the pilot is selecting two rounds of six projects each to test assumptions about supporting ensemble theater development and touring in the U.S.  Click here for more detail on the background.

The goal of the pilot is to encourage artists and their collaborators to create high-quality works of contemporary theater and provide for extended life of these works through touring to multi-disciplinary presenters, producing theaters, and other venues.

The National Theater Pilot:

  • Supports the creation and development of original, high-quality, devised, collaborative, and/or ensemble theater works with intention to tour.
  • Brings visibility to touring this type of contemporary theater work and the elements required for successful touring.
  • Creates a national network of presenters, producing theaters, and ensemble theaters with venues that will increase the potential for touring.
  • Establishes a strong core of advisors who are seeing, talking about, and referring others to theater works of interest.
  • Collects data and narrative information to inform future grantmaking.

The Pilot Advisors will select six theater projects in each of two pilot years. Participation in the pilot will include support for the development and touring of the work over an 18-36 month period. Award size will depend upon the needs of each project and will range from $80,000-$130,000, including support for development, evaluation, and touring.  


National Theater Pilot will consider projects submitted by U.S.-based nonprofit organizations as well as individual artists who have identified collaborators. 

  • Applicant organizations must have nonprofit status. Organizations without nonprofit status and individual artists may also apply but must provide a nonprofit organizational partner to serve as fiscal agent.
  • The project must be a devised, collaborative, and/or ensemble theater work with intention to tour.
  • All projects must have at least one committed, U.S.-based organizational partner who will participate in the development of the work.
    • In addition, identification of at least one interested U.S.-based touring partner is strongly recommended