Watch the New England States Touring (NEST) Grant Webinar

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Program Coordinator, New England Presenting & Touring

This webinar is for folx interested in applying for the New England States Touring (NEST) Grant. For more information about the grant opportunity (including eligibility, funding criteria, and more) visit the grant page. Apply by 11:59 PM ET, March 15, 2021.

Read the Transcript

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the New England Presenting and Touring webinar. We're happy to have you with us this morning. This is Adrienne Petrillo. I'm the senior program director for New England Presenting and Touring at NEFA. And we're going to get started with a few introductions from our staff. You will note that we are currently off camera. You are welcome to be on or off camera.

And we do ask that everyone stays muted throughout. If you have questions as we go through this presentation, you are welcome to type them into the chat and we will address questions at the end of this presentation. So, I just introduced myself. Again, Adrienne Petrillo. My pronouns are she/her, and I am the senior program director at NEFA and I am joined today by my colleagues. First, Falyn, do you want to introduce yourself?

Hello, everyone. Apologies in advance if when I am unmuted you hear my cat in the background. He's quite vocal. My name is Falyn Rose Elhard. I use they/them pronouns, and I am the program associate for New England Presenting and Touring at NEFA.

Thank you. And you see a picture of Daniela Jacobson, who unfortunately, is not with us today, but is an important member of our team. But we are joined by Jane Preston.

Good morning. Yes, I am trying to fill in a bit for Daniela this morning. I'm Jane Preston. I use she/her pronouns, and I am the deputy director for programs at NEFA. Thank you. So before we get started, I just want to say that here at NEFA, we believe that one of the roles of the arts is to make the invisible, visible. We also believe that it is not the responsibility of those who have been made invisible to remind us that they are still here. Therefore, as a committed ally, NEFA wishes to acknowledge the ground on which we are virtually meeting is the traditional lands of the Massachusett, Wampanoag, and Nipmuc people, and we honor their ancestors past, present and future, and recognize their continued existence and contributions to our society. So with that, we will move into our presentation.

We can go to the agenda. We will as I said, have time at the end of this session for some questions, and we are also recording this webinar, which will be available on the website in just a few days. It will be available with captions, which may make it a little more accessible for some folks. So our agenda for today is to review the New England States Touring or NEST grant program. We also have updated NEST guidelines for this upcoming March 15th deadline. So we will talk about those. And we will also talk about the CreativeGround profile requirements for both artists and for presenters. So with that, I will turn it over to Jane to give a short overview of the New England States Touring program.

Thanks, Adrienne. As Adrienne said, today we're talking about the New England States Touring or NEST, March 2021 deadline for presentations Summer 2021 through Summer of 2022. NEST Next is NEFA's oldest program, and it's really at the core of support for New England organizations that connect artists with communities in our region. The spring round of NEST each year funds presentation of regional, national, and international artists presented by New England based nonprofit organizations. This year in response to COVID-19 and the huge impact and challenges for the Arts sector, we've made some significant changes to the NEST grant guidelines for the March 2021 deadline. Organizations may apply to present artists residing in any location, local, regional, national, and international, or performances and community engagement activities that are virtual or in person. You move to the next slide.

The overall goals of NEST have not changed. They are to expand direct access to high quality artists and aesthetic diversity for all New England communities by artists from New England, the nation, and across the globe. To stimulate opportunities for collaboration and partnerships among New England cultural organizations and between artists and organizations, and to encourage projects that provide meaningful interaction between artists and communities, extending beyond the stage. And this year, we know that we have to be extending beyond the stage. So with that, I'll turn it back to Adrienne.

Thanks, Jane. So now we're going to talk a little more specifically about how to apply it to the program. So as we said, NEST provides grants to organizations to present artists across New England, and for this deadline, that means either virtually or in person. The organization presenting the artist is the applicant, and the grant is made to the organization in support of the fee that is being paid to the artist.

So the applicant organization must be a nonprofit 501c3, or a school, federally recognized tribal government, or other government entity. The organization must be based in New England. There are six New England states. Hopefully everyone knows what they are, but let us know if you don't. And the organization must present at least one public performance by the artist they are engaging. And by public performance, we mean something that is open to the public and advertised accordingly. So anyone can attend. Go to the next slide.

So some changes to the NEST program for March 2021. So organizations with budgets above $500,000 may request up to 75% of the artist fee, and organizations with budgets below $500,000 may request up to 100% of the artist fee. And to be clear, the artist fee may include fees paid to the artist as well as any travel, accommodations, meals, if it's something that's in person. Art centers that are embedded within a larger institution like a college or University can reach out to NEFA to talk about where they fall on the budget threshold.

We will not use the total University budget as the benchmark, but we do want to make sure the Art Center is represented appropriately. So if you are embedded within a larger institution, feel free to contact us so we can talk more about your specific situation. Organizations can submit up to three NEST applications for this deadline, and that total amount requested across all three may not exceed $15,000. So that means an organization could submit one application requesting $15,000. It could be three applications at $5,000 apiece, or any variation in between. But it's important to know that it is a maximum of three applications and a total of $15,000.

Presenting partners are also not required for any application to this round of NEST, although we are still encouraging partnership and collaboration. That's important to note and we'll talk a little bit more about that when we get to the funding criteria and priorities. The NEST grants are still awarded through a competitive selection process, and we expect that there will be significant demand for this deadline. The amount of funding is based on the extent to which the project meets the funding criteria, which we will talk about in just a moment. And funded organizations again can request 75% to 100% of the artist fee. However, we are not guaranteeing you will receive that full request, but if funded, you will receive at least 50% of your grant request. Those are the details of applying. We have just a few more, if you want to go to the next slide.

And then just to clarify roles in terms of the application process. All applicants do need to negotiate the terms of their engagement with the artist. The application must be submitted before midnight on the deadline date, and it is an online application process. And again you can submit up to 11:59. However, NEFA staff will only be available until 5:00 PM. So I highly recommend that you try to submit within business hours so that we're available to help you if you run into any technical problems. Applicants are also responsible for submitting an artist's work sample for artists that are not based in New England, and we'll talk a little bit more about the work sample and the differences between what's needed for New England based and non New England artists. And with that, I will turn it over to Falyn to talk about the funding criteria.

Hello, all. The funding criteria. We are looking for clear rationale for how the project aligns with the organization's arts programming goals and its significance for the community that the arts organization is embedded within. We're also looking for additional activities beyond the performance which provide opportunities for the artists or ensemble in this engagement to meaningfully connect with various sectors of the community. Cross-sector exchanges which connect arts and non arts organizations and collaboration are strongly encouraged, and we are looking for projects that expand access to the arts for all New England communities. NEFA acknowledges structural inequities that have excluded individuals and communities from opportunity based on race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, class, age, language, culture, and geography, and we strive to counter these inequities in our work.

So the applications which will be given priority for funding are those which feature projects that include partnerships with other New England presenting organizations, whether that partnership is through collaborative booking or through co-presenting activities. And this applies whether the engagement is in person or virtual. We will also be prioritizing organizations that have historically had less access to financial resources, especially those in rural communities and/or those that are deeply engaging black, indigenous, and people of color and those communities. We will also be prioritizing organizations that have not already received NEFA funding in our 2021 fiscal year, which spans June 1st, 2020 to May 31st, 2021.

On to what NEST cannot be used to fund. So we cannot fund activities and programs which take place exclusively in schools during class time. We cannot fund events that are not open to the public and advertise accordingly. And for projects that have multiple engagement aspects to them, there may be non-public performances that are part of some of the activities being offered, but a non-public performance cannot be the only activity that is offered. We cannot fund fundraisers. We cannot fund events outside of the six New England states.

Of course, in a post COVID world, this does not apply to artists from outside of New England who are being presented via virtual engagements. But if the engagement is to be physical, then just as the presenter must be located within one of the six New England states, they need to bring the artist or ensemble to their community for that physical engagement. We can also not fund performances in which the performers are primarily students. We cannot find self produced presentations by artists and ensembles. And we cannot fund presentations of artistic work that have funding available through the National Dance Project or National Theater Project. So if funding is available through NDP or NTP, then the funding from those programs has to be utilized.

So we have this resource called CreativeGround, which is our online directory of New England cultural organizations and artists. I'm sure you are all very familiar with this. Some things that artists can use CreativeGround for is to promote their work and activities to presenters, and presenters can use CreativeGround to locate artists of all disciplines from throughout New England. This includes performing artists, teaching artists, and artists available for national funding.

I'd also like to note that for New England based artists, they must have a profile on CreativeGround that is eligible for receiving NEST funding. However, you can apply for a New England based artist whose profile, if not currently approved for NEST eligibility, but they must take the steps to make it NEST eligible for funding by the time the engagement occurs. So we strongly encourage that they already have that done before you apply, but it's not a barrier if it's not done at the exact time of when the application is submitted. Through CreativeGround, presenters can also find collaborators for program development, block blocking, cross promotion, and other projects.

Presenting organizations are also required to have a CreativeGround profile, which must be updated according to the NEST presenter profile recommendations. You can find these recommendations on the NEST grant page of our website under the eligibility drop down menu items. The link to an organization's CreativeGround profile must also be included in their application, just as they must include a link to the CreativeGround profile of a New England based artist for which they are applying for grant funding.

Thank you, Falyn. So with that, that is the very brief overview of the NEST program and the changes for the March deadline. We know it's always important to recognize and thank our funders, so we do want to acknowledge the National Endowment for the Arts and the six New England state arts agencies who are partners in the program. And we thank you for joining us for this presentation and we will move into some questions. I know there's already been a few that have been put into the chat, and you are welcome to add more and we'll do our best to answer your questions.

So it looks like there was a question about does open to the public mean free to the public. And as Jane addressed briefly in the chat, we actually encourage charging admission. Open to the public means anyone can attend. It does not have to be free. We recommend charging admission because it can help with revenue. It helps artists get paid. It shows the value of the arts. We recognize things are a little different right now, so admission is maybe not as straightforward as it normally is. But you certainly are not penalized in any way if you do charge admission, and if that's something you can do, we encourage you to consider it.

Maybe we could clarify why this particular round of NEST has national and international artists as well as local artists. So maybe we should clarify the usual three layers of NEST versus this sort of all in one.

Sure. So for those of you that have been familiar with the NEST programs, we have had three versions of NEST previously what we call, very creatively, NEST one, two, and three. NEST one and two exclusively funded New England based artists and NEST three provided support for artists based outside of New England. So with this deadline, as we recognize things are very much in flux right now, we sort of combined everything into one, and for this March deadline, we are accepting applications from artists who are based anywhere in the world. We will have another NEST deadline in August, and I expect that guidelines will change once again for that deadline as we continue to try to respond to where the arts field is at in the moment.

So, question. What do you mean not funding self produced presentations by artists? Isn't this for artists?

Sure. So this program is to support organizations who are bringing in and presenting and paying the artists, so we don't fund self produced. If an artist is putting on the show, we don't fund that because we are trying to support a model where organizations actually bring in and compensate artists for their work. And the organization presenting the artist is then responsible for setting up the venue, dealing with the tech, doing the marketing, getting the audience, and that is the job of the organization who is serving as the presenter. And the artist's job is to present their art, and the organization should compensate the artist for that.

I'm sorry, were you finished, Adrienne?

Yes, please go ahead.

Question around criteria for work samples for artists based outside New England.

Sure. There will be work samples required for non New England artists. Falyn, do you want to talk a little bit more about how that will work?

Yes. My apologies, my internet is being very slow in loading right now. So the criteria for work samples will be further explained in the grant application portal, but basically we are asking for no more than five minutes total of work being shown, and we ask that the video not be a promotional video or a trailer but a clip that really gives a consistent look at the artist's work. Especially in the virtual post COVID world, it could be a clip from a performance that has been recorded or it could be a clip from a rehearsal. Just something to give the panelists an idea of what the work that the artists do will look like. You can submit up to three clips, but these clips again cannot total more than five minutes in length. And it can be either an audio or video clip, depending on the medium that the artist works within.

Thank you, Falyn. And just to reiterate again, those are the requirements for an artist who is not based in New England. If it is a New England based artist, they will need to have a CreativeGround profile as Falyn reviewed earlier in the presentation.

Right, and I will just add a further note that across NEFA programs, we are understanding that work samples are challenging right now, and so the panelists will be given guidance to understand the circumstances under which the work samples are being produced this year.

There is a question around-- we are a fiscally sponsored organization in New York. Are we qualified to apply?

Sure. Unfortunately, you are not. This program can only support organizations based in New England. And currently because of the federal funding that goes into this program, we likely cannot support fiscally sponsored projects. The organization applying must meet our eligibility requirements, which are that you must be a 501cS or government or tribal entity or a school. But we're happy to talk with folks on a case by case basis to learn a little bit more about your specific situation.

There's a question that actually follows on a bit to the work sample question, which is can you talk more about the work sample requirement only being for non New England artists? Are we expecting that CreativeGround profiles will point to work samples for New England artists? If so, would that mean the best avenue for showcasing the work of New England artists is to encourage them to create and/or update their CreativeGround profile?

Yes, so that is correct. As we just said, the CreativeGround profile will be the work sample for New England artists, which is typically the way it works with NEST applications. And that is a resource only available to New England artists. And I always recommend the artists update their profile regularly and certainly if they know that there's an organization applying to NEST. It is in their best interest to have an updated profile, including video or audio samples as well.

I just wanted to briefly elaborate on that. I apologize if what I said when going over the CreativeGround slides were confusing. What Adrienne said is completely correct. We do strongly encourage artists to update their profiles for presenters that are applying. However, there have been times where-- we're living in difficult times right now, and people have been worried that they won't be able to submit their applications on time because the profile will not be updated by 11:59 PM on the date on which the applications are due.

And so we don't want that to be a barrier because there is still a time period in which we receive the applications and process them to be ready to be sent out to the people reviewing them. So if it would be a barrier to application that the profile is not completely updated for a New England based artist, then you can still submit. But yes, it's really best that it is updated as soon as possible so that when all of the materials do go to the panel reviewers, then the profile fully reflects their work and has every criteria that we are asking for on which we are evaluating these grants.

Thank you.

There's a question around whether we can at this point provide guidance on when the next deadlines for NEST might be for folks who are trying to calculate when the best time to apply is, and I guess you should also reiterate that this is a slightly different than usual NEST deadline.

Right. There are a lot of changes to the NEST guidelines for this March round. We will have another deadline at the beginning of August that will be for projects that start after November 1st, 2021. I cannot make any guarantees in this moment because again we're trying to respond to an evolving situation, but if you are looking to apply for an artist who is not based in New England, I would highly recommend applying at the March deadline. I don't know that that option will be available for August.

And then a question also about applying to-- I think I'm interpreting this question correctly, and if not, please enter more into the chat. But in terms of the availability of other funds and I believe this is about the availability of National Theater Project or National Dance Project funds, that if those funds are available, we encourage you to work with the artists and to get support from those programs.

Yes. That National Dance Project and National Theater Project, which are two other programs that have a set of projects that they've already committed touring support for, if you are interested in bringing any of those projects to your community, you need to follow that process and take advantage of either of those programs. And we can certainly put you in touch with the correct staff or talk to you a little bit more about those programs and how to take advantage of those if that's something that's relevant to you.

I think we've addressed all the questions that are currently in the chat. We can give a bit of time if there are more.

And I will just reiterate the slide that you're seeing has contact info for myself and for Falyn, and you are welcome to call and email us at any point with questions. We're happy to talk with folks throughout the application process and answer any questions you may have. So please don't hesitate to get in touch if you do have any questions that come up for you throughout.

If there are no more questions it looks like we have addressed everything. It looks like there's one more question. When does the money need to be spent by? That's a great question. For the March deadline, we are supporting projects that take place between June 1st of this year through August 31, 2022. So your project must take place in that time frame and the funds must be spent by then.

And a slight bit of clarification, it looks like on the NDP. Yes, as you're working with an artist, artists do allocate the NDP and NTP touring funds. So if you're working with an artist who has NDP or NTP touring funds available, please talk to the artist about allocating some of those funds to your presentation.

Great. And again, all of this information is available on our website. We do recommend that you spend some time looking closely at the language on there. There is a lot of detail about the eligibility, the application process, the funding criteria, and the priorities that, again, are specific to this round. And so it's a good idea to look through all of that and then if you still have questions, please feel free to reach out to all of us. So I think that's it on the questions. Thank you all so much for joining us. We really appreciate it. And we hope to hear from you soon and I hope you all have a great day. Thank you.

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