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APAP announces ArtsForward, more than $2M in grants, and reopening resources.

The Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) is pleased to announce that it received $3 million from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for APAP ArtsForward, a new program to support the performing arts field’s safe, vibrant, and equitable reopening and recovery. The program will focus primarily on providing grants to APAP presenter members and their artist/ensemble partners as venues reopen, tours resume, and audiences reconnect. It will also offer services and resources to the field-at-large around reopening, booking, and touring through the pandemic.

ArtsForward will distribute more than $2 million in early 2022 through grants of up to $50,000 to APAP member presenting organizations, working in partnership with an artist or ensemble, for engagements that may take place virtually, in-person, or through a hybrid approach. Priority will be placed on funding small and mid-sized presenting organizations with operating budgets of less than $5M. Applications will be co-submitted by presenters and artists, and at least half of each grant will directly support artists/ensembles over the course of their engagement. Grantees will receive technical assistance and participate in gatherings with fellow grantees throughout the grant period.

In addition to direct grants, APAP ArtsForward will provide a range of services to support the performing arts field’s transition toward reopening its venues safely. This will include professional development webinars, conference sessions, and the development of national tools such as real-time vaccination policy and safety protocol data from presenting organizations; resource documents addressing COVID-19 issues for staff, artists, and patrons; and reports on the state of reopening and touring that track presenter, agent, and artist booking/rescheduling activity.

ArtsForward was inspired by the intensive exchanges that emerged during the pandemic among professional peers and working groups in the performing arts field, including dialogues led by APAP in sessions at its annual convening APAP|NYC and practices promoted by APAP’s Building Ethical and Equitable Partnership Working Group. The program aims to build and reinforce a sustainable arts ecosystem with business practices that respect artists, support presenters, and underscore the interdependence and safety of all those involved in performance engagements. Building on APAP’s long history of regranting initiatives, ArtsForward’s design and activities are informed by a team of multidisciplinary and culturally diverse advisors and peers, including artists, agents, presenters, and administrators.

“We are grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for its partnership in delivering timely and essential support to our members and artists,” said Lisa Richards Toney, President and CEO of APAP. “APAP views this program as a critical first step in a long process to restart the performing arts, while fueling a more collaborative, more equitable, and less transactional approach to our presenter-artist relationships.”

“We are committed to building momentum around collaborations and practices that help our field resume programming and adopt protocols that support the safety of artists, staff and patrons,” said Krista Bradley, Director of Programs and Resources of APAP, who will oversee the program. “At this unique moment, when our field is grappling with how and when to reopen, APAP looks forward to supporting artists, agents and managers, and presenters and to sharing information and emerging practices for the field.”

Funding guidelines for the APAP ArtsForward grants program will be announced in early October. Interested applicants will submit a short form in late fall 2021. Select applicants will then be invited to submit additional information by early 2022. Beginning in February 2022, APAP will grant up to 50 awards of up to $50,000 to support engagements throughout the remainder of 2022.
Caption: Audience at Cimafunk Showcase at APAP|NYC 2020 by Adam Kissick/APAP
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