Venturous Capital Grants
The mission of Venturous Theater Fund is to help playwrights achieve the freedom to write the plays they fear would otherwise go unproduced by providing financial support for ambitious and challenging work that embraces experimentation and risk. Our “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 to underwrite extraordinary production expenses for new plays—specific costs that a theater might otherwise be unable to incur. Examples:
- Large cast size—support for additional performers
- Unusual technical requirements
- Additional production elements
- Musicians/dancers (but see note below about the kinds of productions we support)
- Other expenses—you tell us.
We do NOT provide funding for enhanced production values. The expenses we fund must be integral, not supplemental, to the project. We do NOT fund period costumes, individual scenic elements, or standard projection equipment rental/purchase. We do not fund non-production costs such as marketing/PR, outreach, education, etc.
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.
These grants are intended for theater companies to support new play production. We do not offer funding for commissions or developmental processes.
Productions We Support
We fund text-based, author-driven new plays. We do not fund musicals. We do not fund plays for children.
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.
Our support is limited to new plays, though not necessarily to world premieres. We welcome the opportunity to support second/third productions and other stagings of new plays with the playwright’s involvement, in which case we may ask that the theater provide a statement from the playwright.
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, we will not consider projects that are produced on any of the AEA showcase codes or with uncompensated performers.
Size of Grants
Who Is Eligible to Apply?
Application is by invitation only. We accept unsolicited Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) as described below.
Support is intended for small to medium-sized theaters (generally speaking, TCG budget groups 1, 2, 3, and smaller group 4). Theaters must be not-for-profit 501 (c) 3 organizations, or sponsored organizations.
Letters of Inquiry
Theaters are welcome to submit letters of inquiry describing the project and briefly explaining its suitability for this program. The LOI is in two parts: a cover sheet and a one-page narrative.
1) LOI Cover Sheet
Download and complete our LOI Cover Sheet.
2) LOI Narrative
Please write us a brief letter of NO MORE THAN ONE PAGE addressing these questions:
- What do you want to do?
- What do you need in order to do it?
- What will be the impact of the grant?
- How does the project fit the mission of Venturous Theater Fund?
3) Submit Your LOI
Please send us your LOI cover sheet and narrative via email to info [at] VenturousTheaterFund.org.
Deadlines for LOIs
We accept LOIs 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*
...and continuing onwards.
*Exact deadline date TBD. The deadline will be no earlier than the date specified above.
We 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 we will not consider more than two LOIs per theater in each calendar year.
We will acknowledge receipt of all LOIs. If you do not hear from us, please contact us promptly to make sure your LOI has arrived.
Please send us your LOI cover sheet and narrative via email - click here.
After reviewing the LOIs, we 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. We do not accept unsolicited applications.
The Selection Process
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.
Our grant selection process is competitive. The trustees generally fund 50% to 75% of those projects invited to submit full applications. They base their determinations in part on their subjective responses to the playscripts. In addition, they assess the extent to which the application matches our funding parameters as articulated on this page.
In general, we notify theaters within 2-3 weeks whether their LOIs will be considered for full application. Final funding decisions will be made within 2-2.5 months of the LOI deadline date.
We authorize disbursement of Venturous Capital Grant funds once the production has been publicly announced, but no earlier than 3 months before the first performance.
For questions, please contact us.
VTF grants are made through Venturous Theater Fund of the Tides Foundation, a donor-advised fund. All grants are prospective until approved by the staff/board of the Tides Foundation. These guidelines are for informational purposes only, and contain no commitment, implied or otherwise, to make any particular grants. VTF reserves the right to change its funding philosophy and/or granting practice at any time without prior notification.
Supporting Risk-Taking, Experimentation, and Ambition in the Theater