2017-2018 Request for Proposals
Optional Intent to apply email: On or before December 16, 2016 (not required or binding)
Application Deadline: Thursday, February 2, 2017, at 4:00 p.m. CST
Selections Announced: May 2017
Programming Dates: August 1, 2017 - July 31, 2018
Up to 40 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 supports high-quality, professional productions of Shakespeare’s plays for middle- and high-school students in underserved schools throughout the United States.
Arts Midwest invites proposals from theater companies to perform works by Shakespeare for middle- and high-school students between August 1, 2017 and July 31, 2018. Grants will be awarded to up to 40 theater companies to support performances and educational activities for students from 10 or more schools. Applicant review will be based on artistic excellence and merit.
Theater company eligibility requirements
- Be a nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization or unit of state or local government.
- 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.
- 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 a DUNS (Dun and Bradstreet) number. Look up your DUNS number.
- Have and maintain an "active" registration in SAM.gov (System for Award Management) until the application process is complete, and if selected, throughout the programming dates of the award. This may include renewing your registration annually or more frequently if there are changes in the information. Search the records for your status.
- Be able to comply with the federal policies and legal requirements, statutes, and regulations in the Assurance of Compliance.
In order to fulfill the goals of Shakespeare in American Communities, theater companies must:
- Conduct programming between August 1, 2017 and July 31, 2018.
- Perform a Shakespeare play. The purpose of this program is to give students exposure to a live theatrical performance, and to the extent possible a full production of a Shakespeare play. If the production is abridged (a shortened version), it must maintain the theme of the play and offer students the opportunity to experience Shakespeare’s text. Performances may be held in the theater company’s facility, a school, or a community venue, but must be conducted in partnership with schools.
Productions inspired, rewritten, or loosely based on Shakespeare’s text or play do not meet the intent of the program and do not qualify.
- Conduct related educational activities for students. Activities must be led experienced teaching artists or actors with strong credentials and training. Activities must take place in conjunction with the Shakespeare production. Examples of these activities include workshops, in-depth pre- or post-performance discussions/talkbacks, seminars, and curriculum-based residencies.
- Reach 10 or more middle or high schools with a performance and 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, geographic location, or other barriers. This may include schools in rural or urban communities or in federally recognized tribal communities.
The standard grant award is $25,000. All grants require a nonfederal match of at least 1 to 1. These funds derive from Federal funds (CFDA #45.024: Promotion of the Arts_Grants to Organizations and Individuals) from the National Endowment for the Arts.
If selected, the theater company will enter into a Grant Agreement with Arts Midwest. The Grant Agreement will outline the terms and conditions, including federal regulations, project requirements, and crediting requirements, of the Shakespeare in American Communities grant.
A theater company may not receive a Shakespeare in American Communities grant and a direct grant from the National Endowment for the Arts or another federal agency for the same project during the same or an overlapping period of support.
Applications are evaluated by an independent advisory panel composed of theater peers and experts. Panel composition changes annually. The following selection criteria will be used in the panel’s evaluation of the information provided in the application. A theater company’s past participation in the program is not considered in this evaluation.
Theater companies will be selected based on:
- The artistic excellence and merit of the production, including the quality of the director, professional team of actors, artistic staff, viewpoint, and evidence of sound artistic decisions.
- The quality of related educational activities for students, including the content, credentials, and experience of teaching artists or actors, 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 minimum of three years’ experience providing performances and educational activities to middle and/or high schools, feasibility of reaching 10 or more schools, the inclusion of underserved schools, and (if applicable) plans to increase the number of schools or reach new schools.
- The capacity and ability to carry out the project, including the company’s history, qualifications of personnel, proven fiscal responsibility, and appropriate financial resources as evidenced in the budgets.
Geographic diversity may be taken into consideration in the final selection of companies.
Selected theater companies will be expected to carry out the performance and 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.
- If you need guidance about the contents of the application, including the work sample, please call Christy Dickinson, Arts Midwest senior program director, at 612.238.8019 to discuss.
- If you are experiencing technical difficulties with the application form or assembling documents, please contact Dana Marie Sonnenberg, Arts Midwest program assistant, at 612.238.8028 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prepare your application as instructed below, then then fill out the Application Form.
- The information required for the application form is listed below and formatted spreadsheets are provided.
- We recommend you prepare all application content (narrative responses, YouTube work sample, PDF uploads, statistics, school spreadsheets, and budgets) prior to logging into the application form.
- Narrative responses, which will be pasted in text boxes in the application form, should be created and saved in Word or other text-based program. No italic, bold, underline, bullets, or other formatting can be accepted. The length of each response cannot be more than the indicated character limit (including spaces). To save space, limit the number of paragraphs.
- Formatted spreadsheets for school activity lists and budgets should be downloaded, completed, and uploaded.
- You will not be able to save and return to the application form. The entire application must be completed and submitted at one time. Before you begin, save and close all documents listed below. You will not be able to upload documents left open on your computer.
- 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 will take time to complete. Find out more information about verifying your company's DUNS number and confirming or activating your registration with SAM.gov.
- Shakespeare play(s) planned for schools performances in 2017-2018.
- Geographic area(s) of the schools you plan to reach.
- Grade level(s) to be reached (e.g. 5-8 or 9-12).
- Project summary (500 character limit narrative): This summary should be an overview of the project. This project summary is the introduction of your application to the advisory panel.
- 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. This is required for those applicants who have not applied to this program in the last five years.
The artistic excellence and merit of the production
The advisory panel will review the following components for this selection criterion, including quality of the director, professional team of actors, artistic staff, viewpoint, and evidence of sound artistic decisions.
Description of production (4,000 character limit narrative)
Please provide as many details as possible at the time of the application. This information is only shared confidentially with the advisory panel. If your company has not determined the play and/or the director, please contact Christy Dickinson at 612.238.8019 for guidance on your description.
a. Provide the selected Shakespeare play(s) and approximate run time(s).
b. Explain the artistic viewpoint or intent that illuminates your company’s approach to the play(s) selected.
c. Describe the director(s) of the production(s) and their experience directing Shakespeare or classically-based repertoire.
d. Describe the professional team of actors who will perform the play. It is not necessary for the actors to be part of an Equity contract.
e. If the production is abridged (shortened version), explain by whom, how it will maintain the theme of the play, how it offers the students the opportunity to experience the original text, and why this decision was made.
f. If your production is translated, explain by whom and provide their credentials.
g. If you are providing evening performances, explain how you will ensure the students’ attendance.
- Artistic director's statement (one-page PDF upload)
- Discuss your company's mission and goals in relation to the proposed production and the Shakespeare in American Communities program.
- Explain why you chose this play.
- Describe the relevance of the production as it relates to the students.
- Five-minute work sample (unlisted YouTube link)
The advisory panel will have access to your five-minute work sample during their independent review. During the panel meeting, the first 60 seconds of your work sample will be shown. You will be asked to supply the following information in your application:
- Unlisted YouTube link
- Work title(s)
- Key performers
- Summary of the work shown on your work sample (250 character limit)
Your work sample should be posted as an unlisted video on YouTube. If your company does not have a YouTube account, you will need to create one. To create an unlisted YouTube link, follow the instructions below.
- Sign into your YouTube account.
- Click on your account name located in the top right of the page. Click on “My Videos” from the expanded menu.
- Choose the video you want to edit and select the “Edit” button below the video thumbnail. Please name the file with your theater company’s name.
- Scroll down to the “Broadcasting and Sharing Options” and find the “Privacy” section.
- Select “unlisted.” Make sure to click the “save changes” button at the bottom of the page.
- Provide the HTML link to this video below.
Tips for preparing your sample:
- Begin your sample with a scene; do not include a title slide or other details about the sample. Production information, including director(s) and a brief description, can be included in the application form.
- 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.
- Provide a few scenes that focus on the performance and show the interaction between actors, as well as the audience.
- Demonstrate your company’s ability to speak classical or Shakespearean text.
- If possible, provide any examples of your company's educational activities with students. This should be inserted after the performance(s).
- To the extent possible, please ensure your work sample has decent lighting, sound quality, and camera placement.
- 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.
- This sample should not be a marketing video, movie trailer-type overview, or a TV/commercial shot.
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.
Projected performance statistics
a. Total number of performances for students supported by this grant.
b. Total number of schools to attend the performances.
c. Total number of students to be reached with performances.
d. Number of actors in production(s).
e. Venue(s) for performances. Choose theater company’s facility, school, and community venue.
f. Types of performances. Choose student matinees, in-school performances, and evening performances.
The quality of related educational activities for students
The advisory panel will review the following components for this selection criterion, including the content, the credentials and experience of teaching artists or actors, plans to deepen or broaden the activities from previous years (if applicable), and the quality and usability of the educational study guides (if applicable).
- Types of educational activities for students. Choose pre- or post-performance discussions, workshops, residencies, students in performance, backstage tours, and other.
- What percentage of schools will participate in a pre- or post-talkback or discussion? Choose 25% or less, 26% to 50%, 51% to 75%, or 76% to 100%.
- What percentage of schools will participate in one or more other educational activities aside from the pre- or post-performance talkback or discussion? Choose 25% or less, 26% to 50%, 51% to 75%, or 76% to 100%.
- Description of educational activities (4,000 character limit narrative)
- Describe, in detail, the content of each of these educational activities supported by this grant and include where they will take place, the typical length, and frequency.
- How do these educational activities relate to the selected Shakespeare play(s) you plan to produce?
- Describe the credentials and experience of the teaching artists, actors, or other staff who will lead these educational activities.
- Explain your plans to deepen or broaden these activities from previous years (if applicable).
- 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.
- Education/program director's statement (one-page PDF upload)
- Discuss your company's mission and goals in relation to these educational activities and the Shakespeare in American Communities program.
- Explain the connection of these educational activities to the production.
- Describe how students will benefit from participating in these educational activities.
- Educational study guide optional (PDF upload or link to website)
- If your company produces both a teacher- and student-focused study guide, upload both.
- If your company does not provide a study guide, please include an explanation in your narrative description of educational activities. Failure to provide a study guide will indicate to the advisory panel that one is not produced by your company.
The strategy for reaching middle or high schools
The advisory panel will review the following components for this selection criterion, including evidence of the company's minimum of three years' experience providing performances and educational activities to middle and/or high schools, feasibility of reaching the 10 or more schools, the inclusion of underserved schools, and (if applicable) plans to increase the number of schools or reach new schools.
1. Description of strategy for reaching middle and/or high schools (4,000 character limit narrative)
a. Explain the methods used to communicate to schools, teachers, or school administration, including the invitation to participate and how you keep them engaged throughout the project.
b. Explain the feasibility of your company reaching the required 10 or more schools.
c. Describe the types of schools and student audiences who will benefit from your Shakespeare production and related educational activities.
d. Describe your company’s plans for including underserved students whose access to the performing arts is limited by ethnic background, economic conditions, disability, geographic location, or other barriers.
e. Explain your company’s plans to increase the number of schools or reach new schools (if applicable).
2. 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 three years. Educational activities may include workshops, in-depth pre- or post-performance discussions/talkbacks, seminars, or curriculum-based residencies. Click here for an example.
a. Insert appropriate year of activities (e.g. 2016-2017, 2015-2016, 2014-2015). If you did not provide performances and educational activities in the last three consecutive years, please provide those within the last five years and revise the year on the provided spreadsheets
b. Provide the total number of students and schools reached per year as indicated.
c. Please upload three separate Excel spreadsheets, one for each year.
The capacity and ability to carry out the project
The advisory panel will review the following components for this selection criterion, including the company's history, qualifications of personnel, proven fiscal responsibility, and appropriate financial resources as evidenced in the budgets.
- Theater company description (4,000 character limit narrative)
- Describe your company’s history of performing Shakespeare or other classically-based repertoire within the past five years that demonstrates your company’s ability to create a high-quality Shakespeare production.
- Explain the qualifications, background, and experience of your artistic staff and personnel that demonstrates your company’s capacity to conduct activities for Shakespeare in American Communities.
- Describe your company’s achievements, including institutional advances/initiatives, major awards, grants, etc.
- Relevant biographies (4,000 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).
Download the one-page formatted Excel spreadsheet for recently completed and current fiscal years.
Provide notes about any accumulated deficit, a change of 10% or more from one year to the next, or additional information that would be helpful to the advisory panel's understanding of your financial situation.
- Project budget
Download the two-page formatted Excel spreadsheet
a. The budget should reflect only expenses and revenues directly related to the performances and educational activities to be supported by this grant.
b. Compare your budget against the details provided in the narrative responses to ensure there are no inconsistencies, i.e. the number of performances, educational activities, and artists that are indicated.
c. The budget should include only expenses and revenues incurred during the programming period from August 1, 2017-July 31, 2018.
d. The budget must show a 1-to-1 match with nonfederal funds.
e. The total project revenues must be at least $50,000 so the required 1-to-1 match is represented.
f. 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 company’s strategy to reach middle or high schools includes ticket subsidies, reduced fees, or other in-kind, the advisory panel will expect the details of these costs be indicated in this area of the budget.
g. 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 compiled 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, ability to work with students audiences effectively, and how the program meets the school's needs. We recommend that these letters be recently written by your school partners.