NEFA Launches "New England Now" Dance Lab

Regional Dance Development Initiative builds on 15 years of practice across the nation

Scapegoat Garden/Debora Goffe; image by Jim Coleman

Ann has long auburn hair. She's a white lady and she wears thick framed eyeglasses. She has gold earrings that dangle and a teal poncho.
Communications Director & Co-Accessibility Coordinator

(Boston, MA) The New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) announces the launch of New England Now, a multi-year Regional Development Initiative (RDDI) to strengthen and elevate visibility for New England dance makers.

A program of NEFA’s National Dance Project, this seventh iteration of RDDI focuses on the alignment of New England resources, relationships, and opportunities in support of New England dance makers. New England Now is a direct outcome of the 2017 gatherings held at Jacob’s Pillow with the New England dance community in response to the findings from NEFA’s 2016 National Dance Project evaluation, “Moving Dance Forward” — which identified that New England dance artists have only received 2.9% of NDP’s core artist grants, with only the South (1.4%) and Mid America (1.2%) receiving less support. The New England Choreographers’ Convening and New England Dance Cultural Organizers Convening, hosted by Jacob’s Pillow with support from the Barr Foundation, The Boston Foundation and NEFA, engaged over 65 participants to consider the conditions necessary for a robust ecology for dance artists in New England. 

“New England has long been home to influential dance presenters and educational institutions who attract audiences and practitioners alike. As we closely examine the evolution of our programming in response to the needs of our community, we recognize the onset of a renaissance of dance makers in our region contributing to the vitality of our communities and we are ready to use our wealth of knowledge and experience to do our part to strengthen the capacity of the dance community that surrounds us,” noted Indira Goodwine, NEFA’s program director, dance.

The core element of the initiative is an intense dance lab in the summer of 2020; regional dance makers interested in participating will be able to apply in December 2019. In advance of that deadline, NEFA is hosting four informational sessions and professional development workshops; attendance is encouraged but not required in order to apply for the lab.

The information sessions are:

  • Saturday, September 21, 2019: Co-hosted by Wesleyan Center for the Arts and the Wesleyan Dance Department, Middletown, CT. Register by September 16, 2019.
  • Sunday, October 13, 2019: Co-hosted by The Dance Complex and New Movement Collaborative, Cambridge, MA. Registration open soon.
  • November 2019: More information is forthcoming about pre-lab experiences in Vermont and Maine. 

The application for the dance lab will be available in December, 2019.

RDDI Structure

This spring, NEFA engaged independent national arts strategist Jennifer Calienes to survey regional dance makers and organizers and develop a structure specific to our region’s needs. The RDDI’s core activity is an intensive and participatory “dance lab” designed to help a regional cohort of dance artists articulate their practice and strengthen partnerships between artists and dance cultural organizers. The RDDI New England Now Lab will have three connected tracks. The professional development track will bring 12 New England dance makers together to work with faculty and mentors July 26–August 1, 2020, at the Bates Dance Festival. This will be followed by a weekend designed for Lab participants and leaders to explore and amplify the value of dance practitioners’ work and skill sets to other sectors. The Lab concludes with a weekend “presenter” exchange, a three-day intensive track for curators, presenters, and producers designed to prepare up to 25 cultural organizers for a full exchange with the artists through showings, meetings, and opportunities for deeper dialogue.  New England Now is made possible with funding support from the Boston Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Aliad Fund at the Boston Foundation. 

For over 15 years, the program has worked to leverage and expand on existing regional resources, foster vital networks of artists and presenters, and to provide professional growth opportunities for regional artists. RDDI is designed and produced in partnership with local funders, organizing partners, and Regional Dance Advocates to meet the unique needs and concerns of the dance community being served. Learn more about New England Now at

About NEFA

The New England Foundation for the Arts invests in artists and communities and fosters equitable access to the arts, enriching the cultural landscape in New England and the nation.  NEFA accomplishes this by granting funds to artists and cultural organizations; connecting them to each other and their audiences; and analyzing their economic contributions. NEFA serves as a regional partner for the National Endowment for the Arts, New England’s state arts agencies, and private foundations. Learn more at

Contact: Ann Wicks 617-951-0010 x534