The National Theater Project (NTP) was created to support the development and touring of devised, ensemble theater and artists. In this environment, where so many artists are having performances cancelled or postponed, where the collaborative process may be hindered by physical distancing, NTP is looking past the pandemic toward a future where artists are still supported to create the amazing and impactful work that sustains them and so many others. This year, NTP will be awarding ten Creation and Touring grants (an increase over last year’s eight grants), and while we do not know what the future holds for making work and touring, NTP remains committed to supporting those efforts.  

To do this, NTP relies heavily on its 12 advisors who make grant recommendations during the preliminary and final stages of the process. Advisors are drawn from leaders in the theater field – artists, presenters, service organizations, and thinkers. Selection of NTP advisors considers many factors, including geography, gender, sexual orientation, and cultural and racial equity, and includes new and established leaders in the field. And, it requires a willingness to do much more than reading applications. During the final application process, advisors work directly with the NTP Creation and Touring finalists as they prepare their final applications, reviewing language, budgets, and work samples, in order that each applicant submits the best application possible. 

In addition to application review, during the year, advisors also serve as programmatic and policy advisors, and as ambassadors for the program. Their input is invaluable and has led to innovations, such as the NTP regional convening and the Artist Development grant.

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, and geography, language, country of origin, and strive to counter those inequities in our work. We ask that our advisors adhere to and consider this value whether reviewing applications, advising artists during the application process, or meeting with artists at cohort meetings.  

An important equity consideration is always, who is usually at the table when these types of decisions are made? This is especially important because advisors are asked to serve staggered three-year terms. For NTP, this means that every year, we both lose advisors and have an opportunity to look at the advisor “ensemble” and invite new advisors with this value in mind. No one year can adequately represent the entirety of the diversity of this country, but over time we strive to bring as many voices into the room as possible.  

This year’s 12 advisors hail from seven U.S. states, and the District of Columbia. They are presenters, curators, artists, former grantees, and thought partners. They come from major universities, small colleges, large and small presenting organizations, producing organizations, and service organizations. They belong to different communities – racial, ability, gender, geographic, etc. What they all have in common is experience in the theater field, a love of theater, and a commitment to making NTP the best it can be. 

Because the NTP advisors are a core part of the NTP model, we like to take every opportunity to acknowledge them for their hard work. It is with immense gratitude for their service that we say goodbye this year to Byron Au Yong, Alison Carey, Keryl McCord, and Jacob Yarrow. Thank you for your exceptional and tenacious work that allows NTP to support some truly amazing artists. Returning are Claudia Alick, Candace Feldman, Brooke Horejsi, Todd London, Jonathan McCrory, Ronee Penoi, Steven Raider-Ginsburg, and Leslie Tamaribuchi. NTP is thrilled to welcome four new advisors: Pia AgrawalMicah Ariel James, Edgar Miramontes, and Linda Parris-Bailey. We are so excited to work with these amazing individuals! Thank you in advance for all that you do for NTP and the field! You can find more information about the NTP advisors on the program page.

And we do mean work! The application review is an in-depth process that requires reading and commenting on applications; a commitment to funding diverse artists from all parts of the country; and very hard conversations. Those conversations include discussions about the applicant pool; theater and its many intersecting forms; equity; aesthetics; and resources. It is a conversation that requires maintaining a generous and open heart and a mindful ruthlessness to move from such a large applicant pool to a significantly smaller finalist and then grantee pool. Advisors will be reviewing 90 applications this year, with a goal of selecting 24 finalists. Under normal circumstances, this is a difficult task. In times like this, where COVID-19 is so severely affecting our community, supporting artists is critical and a service that NTP, and its advisors, is committed to doing in the most humane and equitable manner we can provide.  

If you are interested in being considered as a potential NTP advisor, please fill out NEFA’s initial interest survey. While completion of the survey is no guarantee that anyone will become an advisor, we need you to let us know of your interest.

A large group of people pose indoors.
National Theater Project staff, advisors, and grantees at the cohort meeting in December 2019.
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