2014-2015 Request for Proposals

Application deadline: March 12, 2014

Selections announced: June 2014

Programming dates: August 1, 2014 to July 31, 2015

Up to 40 theater companies will be selected

Shakespeare in American Communities is a national theater program of the National Endowment for the Arts in cooperation with Arts Midwest bringing performances and educational activities to audiences across the country.

The program reaches middle- and high-school students in underserved schools throughout the United States with high-quality, professional productions of Shakespeare’s plays.

Arts Midwest invites proposals from nonprofit theater companies to perform works by Shakespeare for middle- and high-school students between August 1, 2014 and July 31, 2015. Grants will be awarded to up to 40 theater companies to support performances and related educational activities for students from a minimum of 10 schools. Grants must be matched 1 to 1. Applicant review will be based on artistic excellence and merit.

Theater company eligibility requirements

Applicants must:

  • Be a nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization or unit of state or local government.
  • Be a U.S.-based theater company that compensates all professional performers and related or supporting professional personnel at no less than the prevailing minimum compensation. (This requirement is in accordance with the regulations issued by the Secretary of Labor in part 505 of Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Part 505 does not provide information on specific compensation levels.)
  • Have produced Shakespeare or classically-based repertoire within the past five years.
  • Have a minimum of three years' experience providing performances and educational activities to middle and/or high schools.
  • Have a DUNS number (www.dnb.com) and be registered with the System for Award Management (www.sam.gov) and maintain an active SAM registration until the application process is complete, and if selected, throughout the programming dates of the award.
  • Assure that no part of the project will be performed or engaged in working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to the health and safety of those involved.

Project requirements

In order to fulfill the goals of Shakespeare in American Communities, theater companies must:

  • Conduct programming between August 1, 2014 and July 31, 2015.
  • Perform a Shakespeare play. This program supports Shakespeare productions of artistic excellence and merit that give students exposure to a live performance. While productions may be somewhat abridged, they must offer students the opportunity to hear Shakespeare’s text and experience, to the extent possible, a full performance of the play. Performances may be held in the theater company’s facility, a school, or a community venue, but must be conducted in partnership with schools or school districts. Productions loosely based on Shakespeare’s text do not meet the intent of the program and are not eligible.
  • Conduct related educational activities for students, led by experienced teaching artists with strong credentials. These must take place in conjunction with a performance. Examples of these activities include workshops, in-depth pre- or post-performance discussions/talkbacks, seminars, and curriculum-based residencies.
  • Reach a minimum of 10 middle or high schools with a performance and related educational activity(ies). The majority of schools must educate underserved students whose access to the performing arts is limited by ethnic background, economic conditions, disability, or geographic location. This may include schools in rural o urban communities or in federally recognized tribal communities.
  • Comply fully with crediting requirements. Crediting will include proper use of the Shakespeare in American Communities logo and credit line in all print and digital materials, as well as the display of the Shakespeare in American Communities banners.
  • Comply fully with reporting requirements and federal statutes and regulations. Reporting will include detailed listing of each activity and participating school (street address, city, state, and zip code), attendance figures for each performance and related educational activity, response to narrative questions, and photographic images of the performance and educational activities to be used for publicity purposes.

Grant awards

The standard grant award is $25,000. Awards must be matched on a 1-to-1 basis with nonfederal funds and may not include in-kind.

A theater company may not receive a Shakespeare in American Communities grant and a direct grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for the same project during the same or an overlapping period of support.

Selection criteria

Theater companies will be selected based on:

  • The production, including artistic excellence and merit of the performance and the artistic staff, and evidence of sound artistic decisions.
  • The educational experience, including the quality of the related educational activities, capacity of teaching artists, plans to deepen or broaden the activities from previous years (if applicable), and the quality and usability of the educational study guides (if available).
  • The strategy for reaching middle or high schools, including evidence of the company’s last three years of performances for middle- and high-school students, feasibility of reaching the minimum number of schools, the inclusion of underserved schools, and (if applicable) plans to increase the number of schools or reach new schools.
  • The ability to carry out the performances and educational activities, including the appropriateness of the budget and capacity of the company and personnel.

Geographic diversity may be taken into consideration in the final selection of companies.

Applications are reviewed by an advisory panel composed of theater peers and experts. Panel composition varies annually.

Selected theater companies will be expected to carry out the performance and related educational activities consistent with their application. If changes occur, they must be discussed and approved by the Shakespeare in American Communities staff at Arts Midwest.

Program contacts

  • If you have questions about the contents of the application, including the required work sample, please call Christy Dickinson, Arts Midwest senior program director, at 612.238.8019 to discuss.
  • If you are experiencing technical difficulties with Arts Midwest’s eGrant or assembling PDF documents, please contact Andrea Sanow, Arts Midwest program assistant, at 612.238.8028 or shakespeare@artsmidwest.org.

Intent to apply optional

Send an email to shakespeare@artsmidwest.org on or before February 20, 2014 telling us your company plans to apply to Shakespeare in American Communities. No other information is needed. This is not required, nor is it binding.

Application contents

Applications must be submitted online using Arts Midwest’s eGrant on or before March 12, 2014 and will include the following.

Company information

  1. Theater company: Address, contact info, DUNS number, and an "active" registration with SAM (https://www.SAM.gov). Registration for DUNS and SAM.gov is free but may take time to complete.
  2. Shakespeare play(s) planned for schools performances in 2014-2015.
  3. Geographic area(s) of the schools you plan to reach.
  4. Brief summary) of application (250 character limit narrative.
  5. Federal tax-exempt status documentation (upload): IRS 501(c)(3) determination letter or if a unit of state or local government, documentation of federal tax-exempt status.

The production

  1. Total number of performances for students supported by this grant.
  2. Total number of students to be reached with performances.
  3. Number of actors in production(s).
  4. Venue(s) for performances. Choose theater company’s facility, school, and community venue.
  5. Types of performances. Choose student matinees, in-school performances, and evening performances.
  6. Description of production (4,200 character limit narrative)
    1. Provide production information, including the selected Shakespeare play(s), director(s), and approximate run time(s). Detail if the play is abridged, and if so, how and by whom. If your production is translated, detail how and by whom.
    2. Describe the team of actors who will perform the play.
    3. Explain the artistic viewpoint or intent that illuminates your company’s approach to the play(s) selected.
    4. If you are providing evening performances, please explain how you will ensure the students’ attendance.
  7. Artistic director’s statement (one-page PDF upload). Discuss your company’s mission and goals in relation to the proposed production and the goals of this program.
  8. YouTube 5-minute work sample (unlisted video link). Your work sample will be used to evaluate your company’s artistic excellence and merit. The selection panel may only review two to three minutes of your work sample. More information about how to create an unlisted YouTube video is provided in the eGrant application.

Several union (e.g., Actors Equity Association) contracts allow the submission of work samples for the purpose of fundraising. Some contracts require that permission be obtained prior to producing and submitting work samples. Companies should contact their union representatives with questions and, if necessary, to request permission for the production of work samples. Please note that this information does not constitute legal advice.

  • Submit a work sample that is recent, relevant to your application, and represents the quality of your company’s performances for middle- and/or high-school audiences.
  • The work sample should demonstrate your company’s ability to speak classical or Shakespearean text.
  • This sample does not need to portray the Shakespeare play proposed in this application, but it should be representative of the performance (or educational activities) for which you are applying.
  • Provide a few scenes that focus on the performance and show the interaction between actors.
  • If you include educational activities, please insert this footage after the performance(s).
  • This sample should not be a marketing video or movie trailer-type overview.
  • To the extent possible, please ensure your work sample has decent lighting, sound quality, and camera placement.

The educational experience

  1. Total number of educational activities supported by this grant that may include workshops, in-depth pre- or discussions/talkbacks, seminars, or curriculum-based residencies.
  2. Total number of students to be reached with educational activities.
  3. Description of related educational activities (4,200 character limit narrative)
    1. Provide a detailed description of your related educational activities, including their location, typical length, and frequency.
    2. Explain how the content of these activities relate to the selected Shakespeare play(s) you plan to produce.
    3. Describe the credentials and experience of the teaching artists, actors, or other staff who will lead these educational activities.
    4. Explain your plans to deepen or broaden these activities from previous years (if applicable).
    5. Describe how the study guide is developed, its intended use, how it is distributed to teachers and/or students, and if it meets the state’s education standards. If your company does not produce a study guide, explain the company’s reasoning for this choice.
  4. Education/program director’s statement (one-page PDF upload)
    Discuss the educational activities your company plans to conduct with the performance, how students will benefit from participating, and how they meet the goals of the program.
  5. Educational study guide optional (PDF upload)
    1. If your company produces both a teacher- and student-focused study guide, upload both.
    2. If your company does not provide a study guide, please include an explanation in your narrative description of related educational activities. Failure to provide a study guide will indicate to the advisory panel that one is not produced by your company.
  6. Educational brochures and/or programs optional (PDF upload)
    Upload a brochure and/or program you provide to schools for your educational programming. Do not submit a season brochure.

The strategy for reaching middle or high schools

  1. Total number of schools to attend the performances.
  2. Total number of schools to participate in an educational activity that may include workshops, in-depth pre- or post-performance discussions/talkbacks, seminars, or curriculum-based residencies.
  3. Grade level(s) to be reached (e.g. 5-8 or 9-12).
  4. Description of strategy for reaching middle and/or high schools (4,200 character limit narrative)
    1. Explain the feasibility of your company reaching the minimum required 10 schools.
    2. Describe the types of schools and student audiences who will benefit from your Shakespeare production and related educational activities.
    3. Describe your company’s plans for including underserved students whose access to the performing arts is limited by ethnic background, economic conditions, disability, or geographic location.
    4. Explain your company’s plans to increase the number of schools or reach new schools (if applicable).
  5. Current and past school performances and educational activities (one Excel spreadsheet for each year)
    Use the formatted spreadsheets below to provide a representative sample of your company’s performances and educational activities for middle and/or high schools for the last three years. Educational activities may include workshops, in-depth pre- or post-performance discussions/talkbacks, seminars, or curriculum-based residencies.
    Provide the total number of students and schools reached per year as indicated.

The ability to carry out the performances and educational activities

  1. Theater company description (4,200 character limit narrative)
    1. Describe your company’s history of performing Shakespeare or other classical-based repertoire within the past five years that demonstrates your company’s ability to create a high-quality Shakespeare production.
    2. Explain the qualifications, background, and experience of your artistic staff that demonstrates your company’s capacity to conduct activities for Shakespeare in American Communities.
    3. Describe your company’s achievements, including institutional advances/initiatives, major awards, grants, etc.
  2. Relevant biographies (4,200 character limit narrative)
    Provide brief biographies of key staff for your project, including your artistic director, education director, production director, and teaching and creative artist(s).
  3. Organizational budgets
    Microsoft Excel Download the one-page formatted Excel spreadsheet
    For recently completed fiscal year and current fiscal year. Provide notes about any accumulated deficit, 10% change from one year to the next, or additional information that would be helpful to the advisory panel.
  4. Project budget
    Microsoft Excel Download the two-page formatted Excel spreadhseet
    • The budget should reflect only expenses and revenues directly related to the performances and educational activities for this grant.
    • Compare your budget against the details provided in the narrative responses to ensure there are no inconsistencies.
    • The budget should include only expenses and revenues incurred during your programming period.
    • The budget must show a 1-to-1 match with nonfederal funds.
    • The total project revenues must be at least $50,000 so the required 1-to-1 match is represented.
    • In-kind (ticket subsidies and reduced fees) may not be included in total expenses or revenues. If applicable, include in-kind contributions in the bottom of the budget worksheet.
    • If your project includes student matinees of a mainstage production, please prorate these expenses based on the number of performances for students.
  5. Two letters of support from school officials (one page for each letter complied into one PDF)
    • Letters should address the school’s past participation in your company’s performances and educational activities.
    • They should reference your company’s artistic quality, program management, and ability to effectively work with student audiences.