ART WORKS Guidelines: Musical Theater

The National Endowment for the Arts nurtures the nonprofit musical theater field, as one of America’s unique art forms, by funding the work of established musical theater organizations as well as musical theater projects by companies known primarily for non-musical work. The National Endowment for the Arts offers grants for the production or presentation of traditional repertoire, new musicals, development laboratories, showcases, artist residencies, work for young audiences, experimental work, and community-based work. Projects funded by the National Endowment for the Arts should help to fully realize an organization's mission and may provide support for organizations and artists in the creation and refinement of work, the public presentation of musicals from all cultures and periods, and opportunities for professional development. Supported projects will reflect the breadth of the musical theater genre and its artistic, historical, and cultural significance.


Art Works applications will be accepted at two deadlines. All project types (described below) are accepted at both deadlines. Generally, an organization is limited to one application per year in the Art Works category.


First Art Works Deadline:

Step 1 - Submit SF-424 to February 16, 2017
Register/renew by at least January 25
Submit by at least February 7
Step 2 - Submit Materials to NEA-GO February 23, 2017 to March 2, 2017
Earliest Announcement of Grant Award or Rejection November 2017
Earliest Beginning Date for National Endowment for the Arts Period of Performance January 1, 2018

Second Art Works Deadline:

Step 1 - Submit SF-424 to July 13, 2017
Register/renew by at least June 21
Submit by at least July 4
Step 2 - Submit Materials to NEA’s new applicant portal July 20, 2017 to July 27, 2017
Earliest Announcement of Grant Award or Rejection April 2018
Earliest Beginning Date for National Endowment for the Arts Period of Performance June 1, 2018

Project Types

  • Commissioning, development, and production of new musicals and musical adaptations.
  • Development programs and labs for new musicals, which may include the hosting of artist residencies, showcase productions of new work, development workshops, and festivals of new works or works in progress.
  • Development of innovative new works that involve media, technology, or new models.
  • Production or presentation of existing contemporary musicals or masterworks from the musical theater canon that are re-imagined or speak to today's audiences in new and original ways.
  • Local, regional, and national touring.
  • Presentation of regional, national, and international touring musical theater productions.
  • Community-based projects.
  • Documentation, preservation, conservation, and dissemination of America's musical theater heritage.
  • Services to the musical theater field that assist organizations or artists in administrative, developmental, technical, and related areas.
  • Innovative methods of engaging audiences, including collaborations with other organizations, through new subscriber or membership models that have the potential to maximize resources and/or the impact on the audience, artists, or the field.
  • Professional training including classes, guest artist residencies, workshops, and mentorship of musical theater artists.
  • Musical theater exposure and enrichment projects, including projects for youth, adults, and intergenerational groups. (If your project is for youth, see "Choosing the Right Discipline for Youth Projects" to help you in your discipline selection.)
  • The development of plans for growth of the musical theater sector in the local community.
  • Festivals, performances, and other activities in public spaces that are intended to foster community interaction and/or enhance the unique characteristics of a community.

If you are recommended for a grant, your project may be subject to the National Environmental Policy Act  (NEPA) and/or the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and the National Endowment for the Arts will conduct a review of your project to ensure that it is in compliance NEPA/NHPA.

Some of the common project types that garner a review are:

  • A project involving or occurring near a district, site, building, landscape, structure or object that is 50 years old and therefore eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.
  • The commissioning and installation of temporary or permanent outdoor furnishings such as benches or market structures or art such as a sculpture or mural.
  • An arts festival in a park.
  • Design planning and services for projects that may involve a historic site, structure, or district.

This review and approval process may take up to several months to complete and may delay your project's start date and our ability to make a grant award/our ability to release grant funds.

To learn more about what questions you will need to answer for the review of a project impacted by the National Environmental Policy Act and/or the National Historic Preservation Act, see here.

Note: Federal regulations require that all NEA-funded projects be accessible to people with disabilities. Funded activities must be held in an accessible venue and program access and effective communication must be provided for participants and audience members with disabilities. If your project is recommended for funding, you will be asked to provide information describing how you will make your project physically and programmatically accessible to people with disabilities.