January 16, 2020

Sixty orchestras will present live music, instrumental music instruction for young students, commissions, festivals, and engagement programs to their communities with support from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in its first round of major grant funding in the 2020 fiscal year. Direct grants from the NEA are a crucial form of support for many community-based arts organizations, enabling grantees to leverage additional financial support from state, local, and private sources, far surpassing the 1:1 nonfederal fund-matching requirement.

For fiscal year 2020, the Arts Endowment encouraged Art Works applications for artistically excellent projects that honor the Women’s Suffrage Centennial, celebrating women’s voting rights in the United States. The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra received support for a performance and community engagement project titled “The Birthplace of Equality: A Communitywide Music Celebration of Susan B. Anthony and the 19th Amendment.” Forty-five Art Works Part 1 orchestral grants total $1,320,000, and numerous additional grants have been awarded for related projects that support music education, festivals and concert series, and programs celebrating Beethoven’s 250th birthday.

The NEA also awarded $150,000 in FY20 Challenge America support, which will allow fifteen orchestras to extend the reach of their orchestral music, educational programming, and community engagement activities to youth and adults whose access to the arts are otherwise limited due to geography, economics, or disability. Among this year’s orchestral recipients are projects that highlight the contributions of African-American women in classical music, concerts featuring the music traditions of Central and South America, and sensory-friendly concerts.

The League of American Orchestras has compiled the project descriptions for grants to orchestras and grants related to the orchestra field. If your orchestral grant is missing from our list, please let us know at advocacy@americanorchestras.org. Complete lists of grant amounts and project descriptions for awards in all disciplines may be found on the NEA web site.

Upcoming NEA grant deadlines
The NEA has set the deadlines for FY21 Grants for Arts Projects, the Endowment’s major support category for organizations for projects anticipated to take place beginning in 2021. Grant applications previously submitted to the Art Works category will now be submitted to the Grants for Arts Projects category.

  • Grants for Arts Projects, Part 1: February 13, 2020
  • Grants for Arts Projects, Part 2: July 9, 2020
  • Challenge America Fast-Track: April 9, 2020

The NEA has released guidelines and application materials in the Apply for a Grant section of its website. The League offers guidance specific to orchestras on our Tips for your application page and the NEA has posted complete guidelines online.

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