NEFA's National Dance Project Announces 20 Awards

Over $42.5 million invested since 1996 to bring new dance works to communities across America

Will Rawls; photo by Will Rawls

(BOSTON, MA) The New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) has awarded $2,030,000 through the National Dance Project (NDP) to support the creation of 20 new dance works that will be shared across the United States. In addition, NDP has awarded $180,000 in Finalist Award grants.

Since 1996, the National Dance Project has been one of the country’s major sources of funding and field building for dance, supporting both the creation and touring of new works. A panel of national dance artists, presenters, and arts administrators selected these projects out of 168 competitive applications. The choreographers and companies from around the country include 20 U.S. artists, 13 of whom are first-time production grant recipients. Each project will receive $45,000 for the creation of the new work, as well as $10,000 in unrestricted general operating support. In addition, each grantee will now receive $11,500 to support Production Residencies for Dance (PRD) and Community Engagement (CEF) work. In years past, funding for PRD and CEF have been separate awards requiring an additional application process and were not available to all grantees. NEFA recognized the inequities within this process, as well as the value of these funds to all grantee projects and, moving forward, will include this type of support as part of the overall NDP Production Grant package. A total of $700,000 is allocated to support U.S. organizations to present these works. 

“We are excited that each NDP grantee will now receive support for a production residency experience and to deepen their community engagement practice(s). Since PRD and CEF were first implemented in 2010 and 2017 respectively, the landscape for how dance artists and companies create work and choose to engage with communities has evolved,” said Indira Goodwine, NEFA’s program director for dance. “Collaborations with other artistic disciplines, scholars, cultural workers, and community activists continue to increase and enhance the overall artistic vision. Thus, it was important for us to make this shift and provide increased agency for all our grantees as they develop their projects and foster genuine partnerships with presenters to share their work.”

“The performing arts are facing an unprecedented set of challenges during COVID-19, and still artists are bringing imagination and commitment to shifting narratives and designing new possibilities. NEFA is committed to supporting the dance field in equitable and responsive ways, and we are grateful to the partnership we have with our funders, who joined us in embracing flexibility and in providing ever-more meaningful support to grantees and applicants,” said NEFA executive director Cathy Edwards.

NDP has invested more than $42.5 million in funding to artists and organizations to strengthen partnerships and bring dance into communities across the U.S. To date, NDP has supported the creation of over 472  new choreographic works that have toured to all 50 states and Washington, DC, reaching over 3.3 million audience members.

“This round of National Dance Project awards is a beacon of hope and vote of confidence in artists at a time when both are in short supply,” said Maurine Knighton, program director for the arts at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. “As we face unprecedented uncertainty across the performing arts, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is pleased to help ensure dancemakers have resources available to continue their vital work.”

“The Mellon Foundation has supported NDP nearly as long as our esteemed colleagues at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.  For more than two decades NDP has played an essential role in helping to amplify the national visibility of a broadly diverse group of talented dance artists,” said Susan Feder, program officer for Arts and Culture at The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. “The dedication and flexibility of the NEFA staff and panelists under challenging circumstances were most appreciated, and we look forward to a time when we are able to gather together again to see these exceptional artists in live performance.”

NEFA's National Dance Project is generously supported with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with funding for special initiatives from the Barr Foundation, the Boston Foundation, and the Aliad Fund at the Boston Foundation.

2020 NDP Production Grant Recipients:

Project descriptions, images, and more will be included on each grantee’s listing in the NEFA grantee directory in October. For questions, contact program staff at

In addition, NDP increased support for its 18 finalists from $1,000 to $10,000 in direct response to the impacts of COVID-19, economic inequality, and structural racism on artists. This one-time amplified support will aid in further development of their NDP proposed projects and sustainability needs at this time. “We are proud of all that these artists and companies represent,” said Indira Goodwine, NEFA’s program director for dance. “We believe their stories and creative ingenuity will continue to have a deep impact in the field of dance."

2020 NDP Finalist Awardees

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


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