Small and Minority-Led Dance Companies Get Access to New Funds

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Small and Minority-Led Dance Companies Get Access to New Funds



Dance/NYC seeks to prop up vulnerable outer-borough and ethnic dance companies with budgets under $1 million

small dance company
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Dancers at Piel Canela, a non-profit organization that offers classes and performances, and works to maintain traditions of Latino culture.


Dance/NYC is launching a $500,000 fund to make operating grants to the most fragile companies. The money comes from a grant by the Ford Foundation.

With the Dance Advancement Fund, Dance/NYC, a service organization, will make roughly 25 grants to dance makers with annual operating budgets between $25,000 and $1 million. The grants will last for two years starting in October and will be anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 annually, based on each organization's budget size.

"Through its strategic support of small dance makers, the Dance Advancement Fund will advance artistic development and delivery and contribute to the field's overall diversity, sustainability, resilience and health," said Lane Harwell, executive director of Dance/NYC.

The fund was created in response to a research report released by Dance/NYC in October, which looked at 172 troupes over a six-year period. The study found that dance groups with budgets up to $1 million make up 84% of the total in New York, but have access to only 10% of total revenue.

Furthermore, over the six-year period, revenue decreased for this segment as a whole. The smallest dance groups—those with budgets of less than $100,000—were particularly hard-hit, losing 32% in total funding, 38% in foundation support and 42% from their board members. At the same time, larger organizations enjoyed a 103% increase in revenue from their trustees. And Manhattan-based groups, 67% of the population studied, attracted 92% of total revenue.

At the end of the month, Dance/NYC will issue a request for proposals for the fund. Applications from dance troupes headquartered outside Manhattan and led by minorities will get priority.

"The survey findings point to entrenched patterns of exclusion of African, Latino, Asian, Arab and Native American populations by dance organizations," Harwell said. "The (dance) workforce is out of step with the racial and ethnic makeup of the city's population."


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