New Report Highlights Impact and Evolution of NEFA’s National Theater Project

High-impact program centers artists in holistic and equitable approach to field development
Cover of the National Theater Project evaluation. On a dark background, four puppeteers work two life size human figured puppets. The NEFA logo is on the bottom. with
Read National Theater Project Evaluation Report

(Boston, MA) The New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) today released a comprehensive evaluation of the National Theater Project (NTP).

NTP functions as a full system of support for devised theater, which in addition to funding, animates an informed, interactive network of producing theaters, presenters, and ensembles. Since the first round of NTP grants in 2010, NEFA has infused over $11 million into the field through the program. To date, 96 new theater works have been supported through Creation and Touring grants; touring of those works has reached 43 different states across the U.S. NTP projects have toured in-person and virtually to large and small arts presenters, military bases, universities, regional theaters, and festivals. 

“This thorough evaluation includes recommendations that will enable NEFA to deepen the support of NTP grantees and the development of the field,” said Quita Sullivan, NTP program director. “The report demonstrates how the NTP model of artists, presenters, and advisors creates an ecosystem of continual growth and impact. I am grateful for the artists, presenters, and advisors who took time to participate in this evaluation."  

NEFA commissioned McNeil Creative Enterprises to complete the National Theater Project Evaluation. The evaluation team delved into the program data and activities and surveyed artists, presenters, advisors, and staff to:

  • Understand what has worked well and the potential areas for improvement.
  • Identify and track the most applicable NTP performance measures.
  • Illustrate how NEFA can sustain its equity, diversity, intersectionality, and accessibility (EDIA) commitment and priorities.

NEFA’s National Theater Project is made possible with lead funding from the Mellon Foundation and additional support from the Doris Duke Foundation. Both funders recently renewed their commitment to NTP; the Mellon Foundation awarded $4,412,000 and the Doris Duke Foundation has awarded $1,725,000, each over a three-year period. “In this critical moment where artists are providing us with narratives to help us deeply understand and contend with the social conditions and social imaginations of our current times, it is reassuring to know that NEFA will be in a good position to further the work of the National Theater Project for the next few years,” said NEFA executive director Harold Steward.

This evaluation examines the impact the program has had on the field and explores how it can continue to evolve to deepen support, including:

  • How NEFA’s equity, diversity, intersectionality, and accessibility (EDIA) values drive the program design, from the program structure to advisor recruiting, and creating responsive grant criteria.
  • How diversifying and strengthening the field is reflected in the grantees and project tours.
  • How NTP gatherings, including regional convenings across the country to learn about the needs in the field and annual cohort meetings to fully support projects, remain an essential piece of program design.
  • How the program design strengthens connections among artists, advisors, and presenters, supporting the field at large.

Read the NTP Evaluation

The next preliminary deadline for the NTP Creation and Touring grant is September 27, 2023.

About The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities. Since 1969, the Foundation has been guided by its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential to human understanding. The Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be found there. Through our grants, we seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive. Learn more at

About the Doris Duke Foundation

The Doris Duke Foundation (DDF) supports the well-being of people and the planet for a more creative, equitable and sustainable future. The foundation operates five national programs - in the performing arts, the environment, medical research, child and family well-being, and mutual understanding between communities - as well as Duke Farms and Shangri La, two centers that serve the public directly. DDF focuses its support to the performing arts on contemporary dance, jazz and theater artists, and the organizations that nurture, present and produce them. Visit to learn more.

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 | 617-423-1390

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