The success of many on-stage events and performances is directly related to the effectiveness of the theater’s equipment. From audio, visual and lighting components to rigging, curtains and acoustics, there are many types of equipment to integrate into your space. Thankfully, there are ways to secure funding to put toward these purchases.
From grants for theater educators to grants for theater equipment, a number of local, regional, national and international organizations provide annual theater grants to qualified event spaces. Let’s take a look at a few examples of these theater grants and discuss a few tips for increasing your chances of successfully writing a theater equipment grant.
18 Grants for Theater Equipment
There are plenty of theater grants available, but knowing how to comb through these many listings to find funding your event space would qualify for can be tough. We’ve identified unique grants for theater equipment that cater to all types of event spaces around the country:
1. Heinz Endowments
The iconic ketchup company averages just under $70 million in grantmaking each year. Although the majority of their grants are directed towards organizations in the Pittsburgh and greater Southwestern Pennsylvania area, they also accept grant applications from organizations from the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. One of their strategic causes is creativity, which includes a Small Arts Initiative, Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh and Transformative Arts Process. A community space seeking grants for theater equipment may qualify within these grant areas.
If you’re in Pennsylvania, consider applying for a Heinz Endowments grant for theater equipment.
2. Salesforce Foundation
The Salesforce Foundation seeks potential grant partners that are located within regions housing major Salesforce hubs. Applicants must show sustainable financials and should also utilize employee volunteering or pro bono support in their operations. Many of the projects the Salesforce Foundation funds are local theaters.
All organizations applying for these grants must be a 501(c)(3). Note that the Salesforce Foundation accepts grant proposals by invitation only, but organizations can also receive other support from Salesforce through their Power of Us program. Eligible assistance seekers can learn more about Salesforce Foundation grants and the Power of Us assistance program online.
3. Houston Endowment
The Houston Endowment grants award $70 million in funding each year. This private foundation aims to enrich the greater Houston area to benefit residents. One of their focus categories that Houston-area theaters may qualify for is Strong Civic Assets. This includes a vision to strengthen and sustain the arts ecosystem and create equitable arts engagement — specifically in aiding residents in overcoming barriers that prevent them from meaningfully engaging in local arts and cultural activities.
Eligible grant seekers in the Houston area can learn more about Houston Endowment theater grants on the institution’s website.
4. Union Pacific Foundation
The Union Pacific Foundation prioritizes the direct funding of services that build the capacity of organizations committed to their communities. Of the five categories this vision encompasses, Community Spaces includes funding for theater productions and grants for theater equipment. Applicants must support the local community in a variety of ways, including creating or enhancing arts and culture spaces for broad audiences such as theaters, museums, concert halls or other event spaces. Grant seekers must be 501(c)(3) organizations within communities served by Union Pacific.
Eligible grant seekers should investigate Union Pacific Foundation grants further and consider applying.
5. Alliance of Residential Theatres
The Alliance of Resident Theatres, or A.R.T./New York, is an organization that helps hundreds of New York theaters manage their spaces successfully. Their assistance includes connecting the New York City nonprofit theater community with a variety of grant programs such as their own NYSCA-A.R.T./New York Creative Opportunity Fund, the Creative Space Grant and The Dime Community Bank Fund for NYC Theatres. A.R.T./New York members also have access to microgrants to fund professional services related to production costs, such as improving the accessibility of the production.
Grant seekers in New York can learn more about the grant programs A.R.T./New York funds and supports on the organization’s website.
6. Wallace Foundation
Based in New York, the Wallace Foundation is a national organization that seeks to improve the vitality of the arts for everyone, specifically disadvantaged children. Their performing arts grants are directed to the support of the performing arts via research, education and audience outreach. Although most of their grants are provided through invitation only, the Wallace Foundation does accept inquiries from external grant seekers across the country. Overall, these grants are exceptionally competitive and are generally gifted to organizations spearheading innovative concepts that can be shared.
Learn more about grants for theater educators from the Wallace Foundation to see if this may be a funding avenue you should pursue.
7. Mid-America Arts Alliance
The Mid-America Arts Alliance is a nonprofit organization based in Missouri representing Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas and Arkansas. They aim to strengthen and support communities through the region by funding artists and arts organizations. They offer two grant programs, one of which is the Artistic Innovations program. This grant underwrites expenses directly related to the art-making process such as theater lighting grants, grants for theater educators and funding for theater productions. These grants are awarded annually to applicants who commit to matching the grant one-to-one.
Eligible grant applicants can learn more about the Mid-America Arts Alliance grants on the organization’s website.
8. Andrew Lloyd Webber Initiative
The Andrew Lloyd Webber Initiative supports theater education for under-resourced schools and underserved youth across the country. They also seek to nurture the next generation of the theatrical community. This initiative consists of three categories, one of which is Classroom Resources. Grant awards can be directed to the improvement or development of public school performance arts spaces, which might include audio, video and lighting equipment.
Applicants seeking theater lighting grants or other grants for theater equipment can learn more online to determine if this grant may be a good fit.
9. National Endowment for the Arts
The National Endowment for the Arts awards multiple grants each year that support the arts community. One of their grant categories is Grants for Arts Projects. This category includes projects which celebrate culture and creativity. Applicants must have a specific project in mind when applying, and they are permitted to utilize grant money for technological aspects related to the project, such as hardware or software used for audio, visual or lighting components.
Eligible applicants seeking to apply for grants for theater equipment should consider applying for the National Endowment for the Arts’ Grants for Arts Projects.
10. The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation
The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation is a large private foundation that is exclusively focused on Washington, D.C. They seek to improve the quality of life for residents throughout this area through grants impacting six unique categories. One of these categories is Arts and Humanities, and award amounts in this category are in the tens of thousands of dollars. The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation aims to help nonprofit organizations focusing on arts and culture for locals.
Eligible Washington, D.C. area applicants who would like to learn more about The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Arts and Humanities Grant can find helpful information on the foundation’s website.
11. The Fleishhacker Foundation
The Fleishhacker Foundation is a family foundation serving the San Francisco Bay Area. One of the two categories in which this foundation makes grants is Arts and Culture. They provide two types of Arts and Culture grants: Small Arts Grants and Special Arts Grants which support small-to-mid and large-sized organizations. Funding from either of these grants is allowed to be used for facility enhancements such as new installations or upgrades of technology and equipment.
If you’re an eligible organization within the Bay Area, consider learning more about grants for theater equipment from The Fleishhacker Foundation and sending in a proposal.
12. The Joyce Foundation
The Joyce Foundation provides a number of diverse grants to areas including Cleveland, Indianapolis, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Milwaukee and Detroit. Their Culture grants are specifically limited to supporting the arts organizations within Chicago’s city limits. These grants aim to improve the arts centers and organizations serving people of color. The Arts Access and Participation element of their Culture grant seeks to expand underserved community access to high-quality performing arts. Grant recipients must ultimately use the funds in a way that reduces costs of community art access.
Eligible organizations within Chicago can find more information about these theater grants from The Joyce Foundation and consider applying.
13. Educational Theatre Foundation
The Educational Theatre Foundation primarily provides aid to middle and high school theater groups around the country. Most of their awards are either directed toward grants for theater educators or grants for troupes and individuals within the troupe. However, they also provide one-time-only grants for school theater programs and are currently awarding Thespian Relief Grants to schools that were financially impacted by COVID-19 due to the cancellation of their productions. Either of these two grants may be used for financing theater equipment if deemed applicable.
If you are seeking grants available for high school theater programs, take some time to learn more about the Educational Theatre Foundation online.
14. The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee
The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee uses grantmaking to enhance the quality of life of those living in the center of the state. Each year, they award millions of dollars in grant funding to hundreds of local nonprofit organizations. These organizations typically address the unmet needs of the community and provide long-term solutions for everyone’s benefit. The arts are one of the many areas the foundation prioritizes.
Eligible nonprofit organizations operating in Middle Tennessee can find more information about The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee’s award online. You may want to apply for theater lighting grants or funding for theater productions from the foundation.
15. ETC Equipment Grants
ETC is a leader in events lighting technology that provides two types of grant funding: grants for theater equipment and cash grants for community betterment. Organizations applying must use their awards for the performing arts or performing arts education and welfare, among other focus areas. Applicants are permitted to apply for both grants for theater equipment and for community benefit cash grants. All applicants must be registered 501(c)(3) organizations in the United States or a fully accredited public or private school within the United States.
Eligible organizations and schools should learn more about ETC Equipment Grants and consider submitting a proposal.
16. Fidelity Foundation
The Fidelity Foundation, established by Fidelity Investments, grants millions of dollars to nonprofit organizations throughout the United States and Canada. The types of projects applicable to the Fidelity Foundation awards include capital investments such as renovations, planning initiatives like hiring project consultants, and technology projects. Organizations applying for grants in the arts and culture category must be 501(c)(3) organizations, manage operating budgets exceeding $1 million, propose funding for a project exceeding $100,000 and be located within one of Fidelity Foundation’s twelve metropolitan areas.
Eligible applicants are those within the following cities:
- Albuquerque, New Mexico
- Salt Lake City, Utah
- Boston, Massachusetts
- Dallas and Ft. Worth, Texas
- Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina
- Covington, Kentucky
- Denver, Colorado
- Jacksonville, Florida
- Toronto, Canada
- Merrimack, New Hampshire
- Jersey City, New Jersey
- Smithfield, Rhode Island
- Cincinnati, Ohio
Interested applicants can find more information about Fidelity Foundation grants on the foundation’s website.
17. Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council
The Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council is one of nearly a dozen Regional Arts Councils serving the state. They specifically focus on 11 counties:
Of their eight unique grant categories, they have four that specifically provide funding for theater productions and grants for theater equipment: Small Town/Rural Areas, Opportunity Grants, Presenter/Production Assistance and General Operating Support. Some grants require a grant-match commitment.
Eligible organizations within these counties can learn more about Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council grants on their website.
18. Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the country’s largest supporter of arts and humanities. Each year, they grant millions of dollars to communities around the nation in four focused areas, including arts and culture. This foundation works with organizations and schools to create, sustain and grow vibrant art communities. They do not fund grants for theater equipment but do provide funding for theater productions.
Eligible applicants seeking more information about Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grants should look over their grantmaking policies and guidelines.
Applying for Theater Grants
The 18 programs above are just a few of the many resources available that are providing funding for theater productions and grants for theater equipment. With so many options for theater grants, one issue most schools and organizations run into is how to find, apply for and receive awards that they’re qualified to receive. Make sure you work through the following steps:
1. Know Which Grants Apply to You
Before you apply for grants, it’s important to know what sorts of awards would apply to you. For example, you may be looking for grants for theater educators or grants for high school theater programs.
You must also be able to identify which type of entity your school or organization is classified as before you pursue any type of formal funding, be it governmental or private. For example, nonprofit companies, tax-exempt companies, 501(c) and 501(c)(3) organizations are often incorrectly used interchangeably. Each of these entities is recognized by the IRS as unique titles. Because of this, many public and private foundations providing grants specifically state which entities are eligible to receive funding.
2. Draft a Proposal
Next, you should detail a rough proposal for the project you require grant money to complete. Keep in mind that many foundations will have specific proposal requirements for their applications, so you may need to create multiple versions of this document. Essentially, you want to first define the needs and scope of your project, providing as much information as you can regarding costs, why the equipment or construction is necessary, why your organization is without the funding and your desired outcome for the project.
3. Search for Theater Grants
After you’ve defined your needs and are ready to share them with a grantmaking organization, you can determine how you’ll search for theater grants. There are plenty of resources to utilize, but the key to success in your search is knowing how to utilize these resources appropriately. Searching on the internet will yield a massive number of results that may be difficult to sort through.
Which grants should you pursue and which should you pass on? You should first inquire about any grants available through your local government or foundations for your specific organization type. Then, seek out opportunities for grants from state or regional entities before searching for national foundations. It may be wise to pursue organizations that attempt to award the most applicants as possible so you may increase your opportunities for funding.
4. Organize Your Efforts
One of the best ways to help manage your search is to organize your progress on a spreadsheet. Create columns that most grants will generally include such as their name, their award amounts, their deadlines and the status on your application. This enables you to keep track of which grants you qualify for and becomes a handy reference guide to update and use in subsequent years. Make sure you add specific information to each column or row, such as links to your application status.
5. Look for Assistance With Grant Writing
When writing a theater equipment grant, don’t be afraid to ask for support from others, especially if it’s your first time in the grantmaking process. There are many resources available online that provide examples of writing a theater equipment grant. You may also consider asking for assistance from other organizations or professionals who may have successfully lobbied for a grant in the past. You’ll likely only have one chance per year to impress a foundation, which is why you should accept as much assistance as you can get.
6. Explore Other Funding Options
It’s also wise to remember that theater grants are not the only ways you can finance your projects. There are many other organizations that give donations to establishments or that will help you raise funds to achieve your goals. Since many grantmaking foundations require award recipients to commit to matching the grant’s amount, you’ll likely need to have other creative ways of raising these funds on standby.
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We create a custom solution with your input every step of the way to ensure the final product looks and performs exactly how you envisioned it. Whether you’re choosing to use your current grants for theater equipment or would like a quote to use when writing a theater equipment grant, contact us today to learn more about all the AVL, rigging and acoustics solutions Illuminated Integration can deliver.