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Winter 2020

Offering project-specific funding to individuals and organizations.



Our approach to Project Grants is driven by two core convictions. First, we believe the best way to serve new music is to ask practitioners what they need rather than tell them what they should want. Secondly, the process for requesting financial support should be simple and help artists connect with audiences, not just funders.

Applicants are asked to present their projects using the same language and media they would use to build public interest in their work. Our goal is to make grantmaking less about grant writing, and focus instead on how artists naturally talk about their work.

Through our Project Grants, awardees gain more than a grant award; they gain access to New Music USA’s platform and broader network. By promoting awarded projects through social media, email, and our deep connections within the field, we work tirelessly to build a community around the work we support.

New Music USA is committed to inclusivity and equitable treatment in all our activity and across our nation’s diverse population. We welcome the unique contributions that artists bring in terms of their education, opinions, culture, ethnicity, race, sex, gender identity and expression, nation of origin, age, languages spoken, veteran’s status, color, disability, sexual orientation, and religious beliefs.


In response to the high quality of many applications to our Project Grants funding and the feedback many of you have given us about the extreme competitiveness of the program, we have made some modifications to the guidelines and procedures. We have introduced these changes so that we can enable a broader range of people from across the whole new music community to benefit from our support. These are as follows:

  • We are no longer able to support retroactive projects. Any projects submitted to the January deadline must take place from June 1, 2020 onwards.
  • Project organizers are only eligible to submit one project per deadline. Appearing as a collaborator on multiple projects is allowed.
  • As of this round of funding, we will be rotating our roster of grantees so that more people have the chance to receive our support. This means that those receiving grants in the Winter 2020 round will not be able to apply again until Winter 2022.
  • Please note that in 2021 we will also explore the possibility of running more than one Project Grants deadline per year. We will share news about this on our website and in our newsletter in the second half of 2020.


Project Grants are made possible by the generous funders who donated to our endowment and by the funders who generously donate to our Project Grants annually. Some of these funders had specific requests regarding the kinds of projects we could support. We are providing the facts and figures below so that all applicants have a better insight into these restrictions, which influence the number of projects we select from each category and of the overall pool. Please note that projects may be funded across a range of categories listed below to create a single award.

  • Award rates are generally between 7% and 10% of the overall applicant pool.
  • Roughly 75% of our funding is restricted in some capacity.
    • $125,000 is restricted for commissioning or the creation of new work
    • $131,000 is restricted for funds related to live music for dance (creation, performance, choreographer, and dancer fees)
  • Regional restrictions are as follows:
    • 49% ($245,000) is available without geographical restriction
    • 35% is restricted to New York City based artists/organizations
    • 11% is restricted to New York State based artists/organizations
    • 2% is restricted to New Jersey based artists/organizations
    • 2% is restricted to California Bay Area based artists/organizations
    • 1% is restricted to Pennsylvania based artists/organizations


Awards can range between $250 and $15,000.

Given our continued desire to impact the greatest possible breadth of artists and informed by valuable feedback we’ve received from the field, we will continue to prioritize smaller grants whilst supporting a small number of larger projects. We are also committed to supporting the widest range of creative work in all areas of the nation within the limits and restrictions on our funding, as outlined above.

Keep in mind that both full and partial awards will be made and we will work hard to provide grants that are meaningful to your efforts. To that end we will not award an amount less than 40% of your request.

The average award ranges between $4,500 and $5,000:

  • Roughly 40% to 45% of awards given are from $3,000 and below
  • Roughly 45% to 50% of awards are from $3,001 to $8,000
  • Roughly 5% to 15% of awards are from $8,001 to $15,000


The deadline for submission will be 5 pm Eastern Time on Thursday, January 30, 2020. The online system will open in early December 2019.  Decision notifications will be sent via email before July 1. Please make sure you have whitelisted info@newmusicusa.org to ensure you receive an email notification.


  • We are open to a wide range of new music projects. A “project” to us means any activity that involves new music getting out into the world through a live performance or recording.
  • Projects must take place anytime between June 1, 2020 and May 31, 2022.
  • Requests may come from individuals, groups, or organizations.
  • Project organizers will only be eligible to submit one project per deadline. Appearing as a collaborator on multiple projects is allowed.

We’re especially interested in having our funds go towards paying artists directly for their work, whether that’s creating, engaging, performing, or something else. We place special emphasis (as outlined above) on funds towards:

  • The creation of new musical work
  • New live music for dance
  • Recording costs
  • Residency and community outreach activities

Please note that eligible projects will include specified living composers and recent music as well as clear project dates and projected outcomes.


There are activities that we are unable to support. In particular:

  • Projects in which work is not in some way delivered or disseminated publicly through performance, recording, etc.
  • Expenses that are not connected specifically to a project, including general administrative expenses
  • Expenses related to purchasing equipment, instruments, computers or software
  • Competitions or contests
  • Tuition expenses
  • Professional development
  • Benefits or fundraisers
  • Funds for artists and organizations based outside of the USA
  • Projects starting before June 2020


Projects are first screened by our staff for eligibility and completeness, e.g. sufficient information, media samples that work, etc. (please see below).  Projects are then evaluated through a peer review process involving approximately 30 to 50 independent panelists per cycle.


  • Projects with weak, and/or incomplete project narratives will not move forward to panel. Your project description should be clear as to what the project entails, who’s involved, and how it addresses the review criteria. Please be as specific and authentic as you can. If the scope or purpose of your project is unclear from the project description, it will not move forward to the panel.
  • Projects must include music by specified living composers. Projects that involve long-deceased composers or music written decades in the past will be removed from panel consideration.
  • Please also ensure that the budget and request is clear, the work sample links work, and that the project encompasses supportable activity as outlined above.


All panelists from around the country will use the following three criteria when reviewing projects:

  • Artistry – as demonstrated by examples of past and/or present work
    • A few things our panelists are asked to consider:
      • Does the work make you want to keep listening? Is it compelling?
      • Does it embody a distinctive voice?
      • Is the work of a high quality?
  • Impact – as defined by positive effect of the project on communities and participating artists
    • A few things our panelists are asked to consider:
      • Is the project a particularly meaningful opportunity (for the composer, community, organizer, etc.)?
      • How does this project build on new relationships or strengthen existing ones with collaborators, audiences, performers, etc.?
      • What’s the reach and how many people will engage with this project?
  • Capacity – as defined by the ability to execute the project  as proposed
    • A few things our panelists are asked to consider:
      • Can they do it?
      • Is the request appropriate?
      • Are all parties confirmed?

The review process has three stages, which use all of the criteria outlined above. These stages are:

  • Pre-screen – projects are screened for eligibility, completeness, and competitiveness by New Music USA staff
  • Stage 1 panel review- Panelists review and score the overall project with an emphasis on the artistry criteria
    • 20 to 25% move forward to Stage 2.
  • Stage 2 panel review
    • Panelists review the project considering each of the three criteria; artistry, impact and capacity.
    • The panelists’ overall scores are then used to create a ranked list that we use to determine awards also taking into account our restricted funded areas as outlined above.

Your project is matched with a panelist who has the relevant expertise. You can read over the panelist criteria for project grants here.


To apply for a project grant you will complete our online application process, including project details, media, and biographies. This information will remain hidden to the public through the course of the review and decision process. If your project is awarded, we will publish your project among our other funded projects, and you’ll be able to post updates as your project unfolds.

Your project page breaks down in three sections:

STEP 1: PUBLIC INFORMATION (Review Criteria: Impact)

Here is where you will provide your project title, some general ways of categorizing your project, a project narrative that uses the same approachable language that you would use to build public interest in your project, the date(s) of your project’s performance or recording, and a header image. You will be asked to tag the people and organizations you’re working with as collaborators, who will then be asked to confirm their role in the project via email – this important step takes the place of a “letter of commitment.”

What you will need:

  • A project title
  • A header image (your image must be smaller than 3MB. Ideal dimensions are at least 706x397px; a 16:9 aspect ratio)
  • The date(s) of your project’s performance or recording
  • A subtitle for the project
  • A project narrative (500 word limit; 300 words minimum recommended)
  • You will also be asked to tag your project among a few categories:
    • Creation of new work
    • Dance (works that include dance elements and choreographers)
    • Jazz
    • Theater (includes opera or other dramatic/staged work)
    • Interdisciplinary
    • Electronics
    • Recording
    • Large ensemble
    • Small ensemble
    • Other (please specify)
  • Collaborators
    • Please include additional artists or organizations that you are working with.
    • Your collaborators will receive an email asking them to confirm their participation; they do not need to confirm by the deadline, but should do so quickly as their confirmation is important to the review process.

Your narrative should address the Impact criteria as listed above. Things to think about (as applicable):

  • Why is this project important to you, your work, and/or your collaborators?
  • Why are you working with these collaborators?
  • How will this project impact you, your creative practice?
  • How will this project impact the community involved?
  • What’s the reach and how many people will engage with this project?

Be sure to check out our published project pages as they may help you prepare for this section in particular.

STEP 2: MEDIA (Review Criteria: Artistry)

Your project page needs to contain two to three work samples that reflect the best work of the artists involved (audio, video, or score samples). These are included on your project page as Vimeo, YouTube, or SoundCloud links, or are uploaded directly as MP3s or PDFs. Your media samples will be public if awarded. We understand that artists can’t always share everything, which is why you can choose to have them remain private.  Your project media is one of the most important parts of your project – your media represents the artistic merit of your work and your collaborators. We urge you to think carefully and choose media of the highest artistic quality.

Here are a few thoughts to consider as you choose your work samples.

  • Will the panel be able to determine the artistic success of the project through these work samples?
  • Since the panelists’ review time per project is relatively short (between 10 and 15 minutes), please direct them to the areas you want them to listen to first by providing cue or starting points for their listening.
  • Use the work sample description area as a way to further clarify why you chose these samples for the project and how they best represent you and the project.

STEP 3: PRIVATE INFORMATION (Review Criteria: Capacity)

Regardless of whether you are awarded, some information will always remain private. This section is where you will provide a breakdown of your project expenses, your grant request, and any tentative income or plans that you’d like to share only with our staff and panelists. You can request amounts ranging from $250 to $15,000. If your request is $1,500 or above, you will be asked to provide a budget as outlined in the form.

The private information provided will be used to evaluate the capacity of your project. Here are a few thoughts to consider regarding budget and the private information section.

  • Please use the private narrative section to cover items that you do not want to be public; this could include other sources of income, venues or partners that have not been able to confirm at this date, clarifying points on your budget, highlighting the aspects of your project which are most in need of funding should we only be able to award a portion of the amount you request, etc.
  • Only use this section for sensitive material you do not want to be public.
  • Make sure the budget items are clear and conform to eligible expenses for the program.


Please save your work at each stage of the process. As you save your project you can preview it at any time by clicking on the “Preview” button.

Once you are satisfied with your project you will need to click the blue “Submit Project” button TWICE.  The first “Submit Project” button will be found on the upper right at every step.  Clicking through will lead you to the second “Submit Project” button. Be sure to click the second “Submit Project” button to successfully submit your application.

After you click submit you will receive a notification that the project has been submitted, both onscreen and via email. If you do not receive this notification, please email us at info@newmusicusa.org. Please be aware that as the deadline approaches more users will be submitting projects, which may slow down the process. We encourage you to submit your project well in advance of the deadline.

Our project form supports current versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, and Internet Explorer 11. Enabling javascript is required to use the site. Also please disable pop-up blockers.

Deadline: Thursday, January 30, 2020, at 5 PM Eastern Time