Performing Arts

Support for Organizations


To help performing arts organizations institutionalize exploration, experimentation and/or innovation in addressing future challenges.


The Arts Program supports organizational transformation projects through DDCF-funded initiatives administered by intermediary organizations.

Organizational transformation initiatives offer grants to support planning, technical assistance and implementation for bold, innovative approaches to addressing challenges facing the performing arts: the impact of technology, the loss of audiences and/or changes in leadership.

Details about grant opportunities available through DDCF-funded initiatives can be found on the pages linked below:

To receive funding, individual arts organizations and artists must apply to the intermediary organizations that administer DDCF-funded initiatives. The foundation does not make grants directly to producing or presenting organizations or to individual artists under this component of the Arts Program's strategy.

The Arts Program also supports organizations directly through the Building Demand for the Arts grants program, which funds close partnerships of organizations and artists working together to develop new audiences for jazz, theater and/or contemporary dance. For more information, please click here.

Background & Rationale

Performing artists typically need strong organizations to help fulfill their visions: choreographers need strong dance companies, actors need strong theaters, and jazz, dance and theater artists need strong presenting organizations to present their work and help them reach audiences. To complement its support for artistic creation and distribution, the Arts Program works to build strong organizations to serve performing artists.

As the Arts Program learned in its 2006-07 national conversations in dance, jazz, presenting and theater, performing arts organizations today are increasingly fragile. The impact of rapidly changing technology, demographic shifts and an impending generational transfer of leadership make the future of arts organizations uncertain. Organizations are witnessing the aggregate erosion of audiences, negative trends in funding, and new patterns of consumer behavior, all of which are undermining the financial health of many organizations.

Forward-thinking arts leaders recognize that business-as-usual will no longer be enough to assure organizational health and success in the marketplace. Organizational innovation is an increasingly needed response to the challenges posed by the external environment, yet the challenges of day-to-day survival and limited resources often impede innovative thinking at organizations.

While the for-profit world has research and development funds to proactively pursue new ideas and experimentation, nonprofits rarely have the resources needed to engage in activities leading to such organizational transformation. The capacity of nonprofit arts organizations not just to conceive, but to research, gestate and implement innovative approaches to their work – in programming, technology, audience engagement, community partnerships or organizational restructuring – requires technical assistance and seed grants to test and implement potential innovations.

Projects supported under this component of the Arts Program's strategy ideally will have the potential to strengthen individual organizations and prove instructive for the national performing arts field.