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Venturous Capital Grant

Grants to USA Nonprofit Theaters for Production
Costs Associated with New, Experimental Plays

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Tides Foundation - Venturous Theater Fund (VTF)

Deadline Date:



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Grants ranging from $5,000 to $30,000 to USA small-to-medium-sized nonprofit theaters to support specific, extraordinary production expenses for ambitious new plays that would otherwise make them unlikely to be produced. Examples of specific costs that a theater might otherwise be unable to incur include:

- Large cast size - support for additional performers
- Unusual technical requirements
- Additional production elements
- Musicians/dancers (but see note below in Additional Eligibility about the kinds of productions supported)
- Puppets, video, etc.

Funding is intended to support ambitious and challenging theater work that embraces experimentation and risk. The “Venturous Capital” grant program aims to give theaters the ability to say “yes” instead of “no” to worthy but challenging projects, especially ambitious new plays with large casts.

These grants are intended for theater companies to produce text-based, author-driven new plays. Special consideration will be given to plays that are challenging in form, controversial in subject matter, ambitious in scope, and/or experimental in concept—in short, plays that are venturous.

Support is limited to new plays, though not necessarily to world premieres. The Fund welcomes the opportunity to support second/third productions and other stagings of new plays with the playwright’s involvement, in which case the Fund may ask that the theater provide a statement from the playwright.

Examples of supported costs from successful past applications:
- AEA compensation and fringe for additional performers in large-cast productions
- Out-of-town expenses for artists in unusual circumstances
- Musicians and choreographers for plays that involve music, dance, movement, etc. as an integral narrative element, but that are not musicals
- Additional rehearsal time due to unique production requirements
- Costs involved in mounting multiple productions of individual authors’ works (plays staged in rep, commitment to produce 3-5 plays, etc.)
- Interactive technology for audience members’ use during performances.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 181524

Estimated Size of Grant:

Grants will range from $5,000 to $30,000. Note: Grants of $25,000 and above are awarded only in extraordinary circumstances.

Term of Contract:

Productions will take place in 2018 and Spring 2019.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Support is intended for small to medium-sized theaters (generally speaking, TCG budget groups 1, 2, 3, and smaller group 4). Theaters must be nonprofit 501 (c) 3 organizations, or sponsored organizations. The play must be produced in the United States by an eligible theater company.

Additional Guidelines and Funding Restrictions:

The Fund does not provide funding for enhanced production values. The expenses the Fund supports must be integral, not supplemental, to the project. VTF does not fund period costumes, individual scenic elements, or standard projection equipment rental/purchase. VTF does not fund non-production costs such as marketing/PR, outreach, education, etc.

These grants are intended for theater companies to support new play production. VTF does not offer funding for commissions or developmental processes.

VTF funds text-based, author-driven new plays. The Fund does not fund musicals or plays for children.

The playwright must receive reasonable compensation (royalty, fee, etc.) for the production. This is exclusive of any applicable commission fee.

Funds must be used for full productions on an AEA contract that are open to the general public for a substantial run (no workshops).

Because this grant is intended in part to fund projects that employ artists, the Fund will not consider projects that are produced on any of the AEA showcase codes or with uncompensated performers.

Examples of specific expenses that are not funded:

- Normal director/designer/actor salaries and other regular production costs
- Playwright royalty/compensation/travel and other standard author expenses
- Period costumes
- Individual scenic elements
- Standard projection equipment rental/purchase
- Lobby display/decoration
- Non-production costs such as marketing/PR, outreach, education, etc.

Support is limited to scripted, writer-driven new-play productions. Funding will not be given for the following:

- Musicals
- Plays for children/young audiences
- Solo performance pieces
- Plays authored by companies or collectives
- New plays that have already been widely produced, or that have received major productions in New York City
- Commissions
- Developmental processes such as readings, workshops, etc.
- Non-AEA performer salaries.

Pre-Application Information:

Step 1 - Letters of Inquiry:

Application is by invitation only. However, the Foundation welcomes theaters to submit unsolicited Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) that describe the proposed project and the specific expenses a grant would cover.

The LOI is in two parts: a cover sheet and a one-page narrative. Download the LOI Cover Sheet from the Supporting Documents below.

Deadlines for LOIs:

LOIs are accepted twice a year, in June/July and December. Upcoming deadlines:

- December 1, 2017 (for productions in 2018 and Spring 2019)
- June 1, 2018*
- December 1, 2018*

*Exact deadline date TBD. The deadline will be no earlier than the date specified above.

The Fund can only accept LOIs for productions that begin rehearsal at least 2 1/2 months after the LOI deadline date.

You may submit more than one LOI per round, but the Fund will not consider more than two LOIs per theater in each calendar year.

The Fund will acknowledge receipt of all LOIs. If you do not hear from the Fund, please contact them promptly to make sure your LOI has arrived.

A committee of VTF staff and trustees reviews the LOIs in each cycle. They select approximately 8 to 12 LOIs to move on to the next stage by inviting theaters to apply for funding.

Step 2 - Applications:

After reviewing the LOIs, the Fund will invite selected companies to submit a full application, including a playscript and a budget enumerating the specific costs which the proposed grant will cover. The Fund does not accept unsolicited applications.

Final funding decisions will be made within 2-2.5 months of the LOI deadline date.

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Please send your LOI cover sheet and narrative via email to

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming