Engaging Dance Audiences

With support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF), Dance/USA launched Engaging Dance Audiences (EDA), a program that enables Dance/USA and its members to explore and research methods of engaging audiences for dance, learn from peers, and share the learning nationally. 

Dance/USA is pleased to announce that funding was renewed for Round Four of EDA, for a grant period from summer 2017 to summer 2018. Guidelines are available here.  

Suzanne Callahan of Callahan Consulting for the Arts manages EDA.    

Prior Rounds

During its three prior rounds, EDA consisted of two components to advance the field’s effectiveness in audience engagement: support for projects and operating costs and creation of a learning community. As EDA has evolved, the focus of its project support has changed and ancillary services were added to assist organizations in implementing projects. Grants are now available to a wider range of organizations.

Round One, a 2.1 million pilot that took place from 2009-2011, was also supported by the James Irvine Foundation. Case studies were developed on nine funded projects, with accompanying products to assist the field in replicating the methods that were explored and lessons learned. Round One also generated extensive research on audience engagement—both of the practices of dance organizations and the interests of audience members themselves. 

During Round Two, with renewed funding from DDCF in the amount of $1.7 million, Dance/USA accelerated its efforts to share the results from Round One, and supported its members in implementing new audience engagement practices. Offerings included professional development through online tools and in-person sessions; grant support for members in adapting the audience engagement methods from Round One to their own organizations and communities; and a learning community—both in person and online—to encourage exchange as ideas are adapted. 

During Round Three, direct support was provided to dance organizations to sustain and refine existing engagement programs that had shown success at or strong potential of reaching dance audiences in one of two ways: a) enhancing the audience’s experience during engagement events, or b) engaging specific audiences. Regarding Option B, there was a commitment to supporting projects proposed by organizations that have a track record of engaging specific dance audiences, particularly audiences of color, the LGBTQ community, and/or people with disabilities. By dedicating a portion of the funding available to both options, Dance/USA reached a wider range of organizations, projects, and artists, and ultimately a wider range of audiences. In addition, organizations beyond Dance/USA’s current membership that had developed successful or promising audience engagement programs were eligible to apply, as were fiscally-sponsored dance groups with budgets of at least $150,000, administrative staff, and a three-year track record. Finally, services to grantees were expanded, with free, optional technical assistance. 

For more information or inquiries, contact eda@danceusa.org.