Background

In 2009, supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (AWMF), NEFA conducted a study which identified unrealized potential for theater projects that expand the boundaries of theater in the U.S. Multi-disciplinary presenters, theaters, and audiences nationwide demonstrated an appetite for artist-led, ensemble, and devised theater work.

Beginning in 2010, with support from AWMF, NEFA’s 2-year National Theater Pilot tested questions and assumptions about theater development and touring in the U.S. toward the shaping of a fully-realized program of grants and services. Through the Pilot, NEFA and a core group of Advisors identified 12 projects (six selected in each of two years) to help evaluate the National Dance Project model as one means of realizing that potential.

Central goals for the Pilot were to support developing productions to tour and to support presenters, ensembles, and producing theaters to take the work to different regions and audiences. Further research and evaluation of the Pilot at various stages assessed how to best support this developing field.

In 2012, again with the support of AWMF, NEFA launched the National Theater Project to build on the knowledge gained through the Pilot phase and provide a critical means of support of artist-led, ensemble, and devised theater work.

Program Goals

Modeled on NEFA’s National Dance Project, NTP not only provides funding but also animates an informed, interactive network of producing theaters, presenters, and ensembles that promote the funded projects and the development of the field as a whole. Projects are supported through Creation & Touring Grants, which fund creation and preparation for touring of devised projects and Presentation Grants, which are awarded to presenters by the artist and support up to 50% of the artistic fee for NTP projects.

NTP supports work that reflects the evolving environment for theater, including but not limited to projects that:

  • Support the creation/development and U.S.* touring of new artist-led devised, ensemble theater works that demonstrate excellence in the artists’ practice. NTP uses the following definitions in consideration of grant applications:
    • Ensemble: A group of two or more people committed to working together over time to develop a distinct practice and body of work.
    • Devised: A process of co-creation and joint discovery that prioritizes generative artists, which may include but does not prioritize playwrights, is iterative, and results in original work.
  • Support work that contributes to the cultural and aesthetic diversities of today’s theater. NEFA values an equitable, diverse, and inclusive world, which we interpret as all people having fair access to the tools and resources they need to realize creative and community endeavors. We acknowledge structural inequities that have excluded individuals and communities from opportunity based on race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, class, age, language, culture, nation of origin, and geography, and strive to counter those inequities in our work.
  • Reflect meaningful partnerships with presenters, producers, and other organizations that are involved in the development, promotion, and/or touring of the new work.
  • Offer the potential to deepen engagement because of the work’s relevance, originality, and/or timeliness.
  • Produce a viable plan for touring the supported work in multiple communities in the U.S. and its territories*.

*NEFA defines U.S. as all 50 of the United States, as well as Puerto Rico, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.

Advisors

The National Theater Project advisors provide critical guidance to applicants in proposal preparation and tour development. They also guide project selection and serve as consultants and ambassadors for the program. Advisors represent presenters, producing theaters, festivals, and theater artists. Selection of advisors takes into account geography, gender, areas of expertise, cultural and racial equity, and includes new and established leaders in the field. Learn more about how to become a program advisor.

A woman with long dark hair and a black shirt with red flowers

Pia Agrawal

She/Her/Hers
Curator of Performing Arts
The Momentary
Location: lands of the Osage, Caddo, and Quapaw peoples (Bentonville, AR)
A woman with long hair wearing a bold floral print dress using a cane. She is holding a microphone and sports green Chuck Tayolors.

Claudia Alick

She/Her, They/Them
Artistic Producer
Calling Up Justice
USA
Jarvis is a bald, black man with a moustache. He wears a black hoodie under a jean jacket.

Jarvis Antonio Green

He/Him/His
Founder & Producing Artistic Director
JAG Productions
Location: land of the Abenaki Peoples (White River Junction, VT)
Micah is a black woman with shoulder length braids. She wears a maroon cardigan, indoors.

Micah Ariel James

She/Her/Hers
Associate Director of Education and Community Engagement
Hancher Auditorium at the University of Iowa
Location: the University of Iowa inhabits the land of 16 tribal groups. Link in bio. (Iowa City, IA)
a man with short hair and a short beard stands in frond of a blue-gray background.

Jonathan McCrory

He/Him/His, Spirit She
Artistic Director
National Black Theatre
Location: lands of the Lenape people (Harlem, NY)
A man with short dark hair wearing a blue shirt with white polka dots

Edgar Miramontes

He/Him/His
Deputy Executive Director & Curator
REDCAT (Roy and Enda Disney/CalArts Theater)
Location: land of Chumash, Tongva and Kizh (Los Angeles, CA)
A woman in a black turtleneck, her left hand is leaning on her right cheek.

Linda Parris-Bailey

She/Her/Hers
President and CEO
Parris-Bailey Arts, Inc.
Emeritus Executive/Artistic Director
the Carpetbag Theatre
Knoxville, TN
Head shot of a woman with long dark hair and freckles looks at the camera.

Ronee Penoi

She/Her/Hers
Associate Producer
Octopus Theatricals
Washington DC is located on the traditional lands of the Piscataway, Nacotchtank, Anacostan, and Pamunkey peoples. The District exists along the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers that have served for generations as a point of trade between many tribal nations.
Steve sits in an empty audience.

Steven Raider-Ginsburg

He/Him/His
Director
Autorino Center for the Arts and Humanities, University of Saint Joseph
Location: Mohegan, Pequot, Schaghticoke, Golden Hill Paugussett, Nipmuc, Lenape, Quinnipiac, And the unrecognized Algonquin peoples (West Hartford, CT)
Amrita is an Indian woman with long dark hair. Outside, she wears a black shirt under a bright red button down.

Amrita Ramanan

She/Her/Hers
Senior Cultural Strategist and Dramaturg
Play On Shakespeare
Location: land of the Takelma, Shasta, and Confederated Tribes of Siletz (Ashland, OR)
DeLanna has long brown hair with highlights. She smiles in a green cardigan over a gray t-shirt.

DeLanna Studi

She/Her/Hers
Artistic Director, Native Voices
Autry (NVA)
Location: land of the Gabrielino Tongva People (Los Angeles, CA) and Cherokee Nation, OK: When we were forcibly removed, the removal displaced many people including the Osage, Kickapoo, Caddo, Quapaw.
A woman in a green top and bead necklace smiling

Leslie Tamaribuchi

She/Her/Hers
Cultural Organizer, Strategist
Location: lands of the Chumash and Gabrielino-Tongva peoples (Los Angeles, CA)
Funders

The National Theater Project is made possible with lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and additional support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Doris Duke logo