On October 1, 2019, NEFA announced a series of changes to the Expeditions and New England States Touring (NEST) programs, merging the two under the NEST moniker and sunsetting the Expeditions program. Updated grant criteria will be in place for the March 2020 deadline. 

Program Goals

  • Give the communities of New England direct access to the artistic excellence and diversity available in this region.
  • Provide New England artists with the opportunity to build audiences through touring to a variety of communities, thereby increasing demand for their work.
  • Encourage thorough planning of projects that provide meaningful interaction between New England artists and communities.
  • Remove barriers to participation due to race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, class, age, and geography.

NEST Artists

NEST artists are performing artists from New England who meet the NEST artist requirements. They represent a wide range of disciplines, including dance, folk art, interdisciplinary work, media, music, musical theater, opera, poetry, and storytelling. NEST artists must be available for public performances and must maintain a permanent residence in New England.

CreativeGround houses the directory of all artists who may be chosen by NEST applicants for funding.

Visit the NEST grant page for information about finding NEST artists or becoming a NEST artist.


The New England state arts agencies serve as the review panel for all NEST applications. Applicants are highly encouraged to contact their state arts agency when applying.

Idea Swap Event 

The Idea Swap is an annual event for New England-based nonprofit cultural organizations and touring artists to network and share touring project ideas, including those that may qualify for funding from NEFA’s grant programs. Each year NEFA’s Idea Swap attracts over 150 participants. The Idea Swap stimulates opportunities for collaboration and partnerships in arts touring and presenting while raising awareness and support for arts projects and activities available to New England communities.

The Idea Swap begins with informal networking, followed by five-minute presentations of projects available for New England-wide touring, a networking lunch, and facilitated small groups to discuss project ideas.

The 18th annual Idea Swap was October 30, 2019, in Worcester, MA.

Learn more

Past attendees have stated: 

The Idea Swap was my favorite conference I've attended in a long time. From the one-day format and low registration fee, to the efficient and useful schedule, and the clearly labor-intensive data collection and sharing out process, all ran smoothly and it was of tremendous assistance to me from both a "what is the field up to" view and a more concrete booking perspective.

Eva Rosenberg, Harvard Ed Portal (Allston, MA)

The Idea Swap is a wonderful aid in opening conversation about performing arts and allows this community to connect, meet new individuals and organizations, and further impact collaboration.

Namulen Bayarsaihan, Real Art Ways (Hartford, CT)

Idea Swap is a connective event that invites artists, presenters, and programmers to get a true sense of what is happening in the NE performing arts world. It's a moment to put your finger on the pulse of the performing arts pipeline!

-Andrea Blesso Albuquerque, Director of Dance, Boston Center for the Arts (Boston, MA)

I find Idea Swap to be very effective in that in a concise day, you can meet folks, see others in the field to catch up, and learn about a wide array of projects. Though not all projects work for my organization, I think it's important to hear them all as it allows me to have a better understanding of what's going on in our region.

Lori Jones, Quick Center for the Arts (Fairfield, CT)



The New England States Touring program is made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts Regional Touring Program and the six New England state arts agencies.

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