EDA Round Four Overview and Guidelines

Engaging Dance Audiences (EDA) is made possible with generous support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

EDA was conceived in 2008 to significantly increase the dance field’s capacity to engage audiences by researching, implementing, and documenting effective and forward-thinking practices, and sharing them with the field. In this fourth round of EDA, Dance/USA members and the field at large will again benefit from direct funding and related professional development services.  Read the press release about Round Four here. The program structure of EDA Round Four continues the significant changes from Round Three; read more about the changes here.

Read the press release announcing the Round Four grantees here and view the grantee list here.   

Engaging Dance Audiences is phasing out in 2018.  DanceUSA's Fellowships to Artists, its new national funding initiative was announced in the summer of 2018.  Read about it here 

Three Related Components

Funding Structure

EDA’s three components are designed to advance the dance field’s effectiveness in audience engagement through 1)  Support for Projects and Operating Costs, 2) Grantee Technical Assistance, and 3) Creation of a Learning Community.

1.  Support for Projects and Operating Costs

Direct support is provided to dance organizations to refine existing engagement programs that have shown success at reaching dance audiences and communities. In addition, dance organizations must also meet one of the following objectives:

Option A) Refining the Quality of the Engagement Experience for Audiences.

Rather than be required to design new programs,  applicants will apply to refine an existing engagement program focusing particularly on the quality of the experience for the participating audience or community. Successful applicants will be expected to clearly articulate the engagement-related goals for their dance audiences and propose program refinements that realize these goals.

Applicants are encouraged to specify the ways in which they want their audiences to interact with, be influenced by, or even be changed by engagement programs. Effective audience engagement usually goes beyond passive observation of performance alone. Activities such as standard pre-show talks and post-show Q&A sessions will likely not be competitive in this Round. Among the many options are engagement projects that build audiences' knowledge or understanding of dance or change their attitudes toward or relationship with the art form. Ideally, through engagement, grantees will strengthen their relationships with their dance audiences and communities.

Examples may be the following:

  • A presenter offers a multi-part program designed for audiences to interact socially, and with dance experts, in ways that solicit the audience’s reactions to the work.
  • An independent artist or dance company collaborates with community partners on a site-specific residency, using strategies to engage audiences in specific ways around events that lead up to, and happen around, performances.

Option B) Refining Programs that Engage Specific Audiences.

There is a commitment to funding the refinement of programs proposed by organizations that have a track record of engaging ALAANA audiences (see below), the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities, communities of faith, or incarcerated people and/or their families. The most competitive applications will establish clear links between the proposed audiences and the organization’s mission, track record, and capacity. The panel for EDA Round Four will be charged with curating a portfolio of grantees whose audiences and programs address the changing demographics of and issues facing the nation.

  • The term ALAANA indicates organizations whose primary intentions, practices, and mission are by, for, and about African, Latino(a), Asian, Arab, and/or Native American artists, cultures, and communities. The word “for” refers to the intention of the organization to perpetuate, promote, and present art that is representative of an ALAANA culture and people and/or is given form by ALAANA artists.  Refer to FAQs for further information.  
  • Characteristics of ALAANA organizations, and organizations that are committed to ALAANA audiences, may include, but are not limited to, its presence of some combination of: organizational mission; executive, artistic, and governance leadership; programming content; and artists served by the organization.

Examples may be the following:

  • A dance company builds on its existing relationships with African American audiences by refining its engagement activities, based on the direction and tour of its new work.
  • A presenter known for being a trans-safe space collaborates with the LGBTQ community to refine its engagement activities around performances in ways that meet the needs of that community.
  • A dance group continues its collaboration with a Muslim arts and culture organization to elicit feedback and engage Muslim audiences around issues in the artist's working process.


Applicants must be dance artists or organizations* and have:

  • 501(c)3 nonprofit status at the time of application or apply through a fiscal sponsor.
  • Paid administrative staff and, for dance groups, paid dancers. 
  • Existed for at least three years by the time of application.
  • An annual operating budget of at least $150,000. (Budget pertains to the dance entity, not the fiscal sponsor.)
  • Not been funded twice by EDA in Round Three and either Round One or Round Two.
* Includes multidisciplinary organizations that offer significant dance programs and/or services.  

Grant Amounts 

It is anticipated that up to 20 grants of up to $44,000 each will be awarded to support audience engagement programs. Additionally, in an effort to acknowledge the costs of implementing projects, the grants will be augmented with general operating support of almost 27% of the grant amount, for a total funding amount of up to $55,800. 

The total funding allocation that will be distributed to grantees is $1,116,000, including $880,000 for project support and $236,000 for general operating support. It is anticipated that the total project funding allocation of $880,000 will be split about evenly between the two objectives. In making decisions about grant amounts, the panel will take into account the organization’s capacity, as indicated, in part, by its budget size. The intent is for the project scope to match the organization’s capacity to complete and administer it.

Review Criteria

-For All Applicants

  • Clarity and specificity of the project’s goals, refinement efforts, planning, and engagement activities, as well as specific audience(s). 
  • Quality of the project’s efforts to refine its engagement program, as defined by the EDA guidelines.
  • Appropriateness of the proposed project budget and timeline.
  • Likelihood that the project will be successful at engaging dance audiences, and that it will support audiences in meaningful ways and engage them more deeply.
  • Artistic quality of artists and/or works proposed, if relevant to project.

-For Option A

  • Clarity and quality of the intended audience experience to take place before, during, and/or after the engagement activity.

-For Option B

  • Track record of organization and project in reaching specific audiences as listed in Option B. 

Application Process and Assistance

All organizations may apply to EDA, including those that are not currently Dance/USA members. Applicants first submit a Letter of Inquiry (LOI). The deadline for the LOI is 5:30 pm Eastern Time, on Thursday, November 10, 2016. By Monday, December 19, 2016, about 40 applicants will be invited to submit full applications. The deadline for full applications is Friday, February 3, 2017, at 5:30 Eastern Time. The full application guidelines will be distributed in December 2016. Grantees will be notified in early April 2017.

For more information, refer to the list of Frequently Asked Questions. In addition, Dance/USA encourages members to peruse and use the content on audience engagement that EDA has produced on the EDA Resource Library.

Assistance is available in developing your letter of inquiry. Applicants may pursue the following forms of assistance: 

1) At town meetings in select cities in September-October 2016, the EDA program manager will speak about applying to Round Four, and provide guidance in submitting letters of inquiry in general. 
2) Proposal coaching, offered by an outside consultant, is available to applicants that have not been funded by EDA. 
3) On October 2 and 4, 2016, guidelines webinars were offered about applying to Round Four. Listen to a recording of the webinar presentation here
4) The EDA program manager is available to all applicants to answer questions or provide additional guidance. See contact information below. 

For more information about all forms of assistance, or to set up a time to speak with the program manager or proposal coach see this page

2.  Grantee Technical Assistance

Grantees have the option of selecting one of the following:

a)  Technical assistance from specialized consultants or Dance/USA staff who have areas of expertise relevant to the project. This added benefit, which is available to grantees at no cost, will allow them to access professional services that might support their project but otherwise would be unaffordable. The intent is to support grantees in administering their projects and in learning more about the audience’s experience of attending engagement events.

b)  Site visit of another EDA grantee during the grant period, in order to observe their engagement activities and meet their staff. Travel will be paid for by EDA.

3.  Creation of a Learning Community

A benefit of this program is the opportunity to participate in the professional development activities for grantees that will run from the summer of 2017 to the summer of 2018, both online and at conferences. Based in part on the enthusiasm of all rounds of grantees about meeting together as peers, grantees are again being funded to not only undertake their projects, but also to actively participate in a learning community about engaging audiences. Information and learning will continue to be shared with the Dance/USA membership and broader dance field at meetings and online. Grantees will be required to attend, in-person, two meetings: one in June 2017 and one in June 2018. Travel costs will be covered by EDA, in addition to grant funds.

See the Grantee Timeline for additional information.

Schedule Overview

Letter of Inquiry Deadline

Thursday, November 10, 2016 at 5:30 pm Eastern Time. Confirmation of receipt will be sent via email by Friday, November 18, 2016.

Notification of Invitation to Apply

Monday, December 19, 2016

Full Proposal Deadline

Friday, February 3, 2017 at 5:30pm Eastern Time

Notification of Funding Decisions

Early April, 2017

Earliest Project Start Date

June 1, 2017

Latest Project End Date

July 31, 2018

Grantee Peer Learning Community

From the summer of 2017 to the summer of 2018

Grantee First In-Person Meeting (Required)

June 7-8, 2017 (with June 6 as the travel date) in Kansas City, MO, just prior to Dance/USA conference (EDA covers travel).

Interim Report Due

February-March 2018

Second In-Person Meeting (Required)

June 2018, prior to Dance/USA conference in Los Angeles, CA (EDA covers travel). Meeting will take place over two days, with grantees traveling the day before.

Final Report Due

August 31, 2018 or up to 60 days after project end date, whichever is earlier.

For more details on what to expect during the grant period, see the EDA Round Four Grantee Timeline.

What Happens to Your Application

After the deadlines stated above, both the LOIs and full applications will be reviewed for their completeness. Both LOIs and applications will be reviewed by a peer panel comprised of experts who specialize in areas including choreography, presenting, services, and audience engagement, and reflective of a range of demographics. During February-March 2017, applicants may be contacted for additional information.

To Get Help or Ask Questions

As a national service organization, Dance/USA is available and ready to assist all organizations, regardless of membership status, in understanding EDA and accessing its support. EDA is co-managed with Callahan Consulting for the Arts. Suzanne Callahan, consultant and EDA program manager, is available and ready to discuss your project ideas and answer any questions. After reading the guidelines, organizations are encouraged to contact her in advance of either deadline. Contact her at 202.955.8325 or eda@danceusa.org. Or, set up a time to speak at this link:  calendly.com/eda-assistance

EDA Serves the Broader Dance Field

Dance/USA strongly believes that the dance field as a whole benefits as it builds stronger connections with audiences. To that end, EDA is committed to sharing a range of resources with the field at large, for free.

Visit the EDA Resource Library to view content that might assist you in engaging your audiences. There you will find webinars, videos from live training sessions, reports on audience research, and tools to help you plan your budget and staffing needs for audience engagement.

See in particular our Audience Engagement Online Cookbook, a searchable database of audience engagement practices, built initially from the content of the EDA projects themselves so that you can learn from and also contribute to the dance field’s growing resources in audience engagement.

Peruse the EDA Principles as well as content from earlier Rounds of EDA and related research.

Learn about the Letter of Inquiry process, including directions for submitting your letter.
Review the Round Four Frequently Asked Questions.
Read about What's New in Round Four.
View the Round Four Grantee Timeline.
Read the press release announcing funding for Round Four.
Go to the main EDA page.