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Performance Program

We are not accepting applications for Performance Program at this time.

2023 Performance Program Guidelines
Deadline: July 7, 2023 at 11:59 P.M. Eastern Time

Eligible applicant types: Performing ensembles, presenters, and festivals

The Program’s Objective

To support performing and presenting organizations whose artistic excellence encourages and improves public knowledge and appreciation of contemporary American concert music and jazz.

Application snapshot


  • Contemporary Music: The Fund is primarily interested in supporting concert music and jazz written within the last 40 years. However, extraordinary projects outside of this scope may still be considered; please contact the Grants Manager.
  • American: Composers with U.S. citizenship, as well as composers that have lived and worked in the United States, its territories, and/or possessions for a significant period of time. The Fund does not set rigid parameters but considers any questionable situations on a case-by-case basis.
  • Performing Ensemble: Performing groups such as orchestras, opera companies and chamber music groups with a consistent core membership, as well as ‘flexible’ ensembles with consistent artistic leadership and identity, are considered performing ensembles. Dance companies are also eligible to apply for projects that involve live performances of contemporary American music.
  • Presenter: Music festivals, music venues, and any other organization that organizes and presents live musical performances by a variety of performing groups can be considered a “presenting organization.”
  • Support Year: The year in which support is being requested. For the 2023 Performance Program, this will be the 2023-24 season, which in many cases will coincide with an organization’s fiscal year 2024. Multi-year projects will be considered if they begin in the current season, but projects that began in an earlier season generally will not be eligible for support.


Funds are available for General Operating Support for professional performing ensembles and presenting organizations with a history of substantial commitment to contemporary American music and with plans to continue that commitment. The program also provides Project Support for exceptionally important activities relating to contemporary American music proposed by professional performing ensembles and presenting organizations that do not normally feature such music in their programming.

  • An eligible project is a clearly defined endeavor that includes one or more performances of contemporary American music and, often, other activities related to the performance(s) that improve the public’s knowledge of such music.
  • Projects featuring only one contemporary American work on a single concert program are not eligible for support unless authorized in advance by the Grants Manager.
  • An aggregated list of contemporary American music activities spread intermittently over the course of a season would not be eligible for Project Support, but could be considered for general operating support if a multi-year history of substantial commitment to contemporary American music is demonstrated as an integral part of the season.

The Performance Program also supports the electronic dissemination of live performances, including both live streams or broadcasts and delayed streams or broadcasts. Expenses such as recording and electronic distribution costs can be considered as eligible costs in a request for general operating or project support when related to live performance. Stand-alone recording projects (e.g., a studio album) and projects involving the acquisition of equipment (e.g., microphones, cameras, etc.) are not eligible for support in this program.

Grants will not be made for the purpose of commissioning composers. Organizations requesting support for the performance of a new work that is part of a commissioning consortium should contact the Grants Manager for further advice.

Applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • 501(c)(3) non-profit, fiscal sponsorship, or foreign equivalent.
  • Performance history as an ensemble or presenter of at least two years at the time of application.

Eligible organizations:

  • Chamber-sized ensembles of any instrumentation
  • Chamber orchestras
  • Symphonic or other full-sized orchestras
  • Opera companies
  • Dance companies and/or ensembles (see note below)
  • Vocal ensembles and choruses
  • Presenters
  • Festivals (see note below)
  • Presenter/ensemble hybrids

Special note for dance applicants: The Fund’s primary focus for dance applicants is on the quality of the music and the performance, which must be by live musicians, not the choreography. However, the choreography must enhance the performance of contemporary American music.

Special note for festival applicants and other applications with professional training activities: If the primary focus of the organization or project is public professional performance of music, the applicant should apply to the Performance Program. If the primary focus of the organization or project is educational activities, workshops, professional training, or career development, the applicant should apply to the Supplemental Program.

Special note regarding soloists: Soloists are not eligible to apply on their own, but presenters may apply to present a soloist.

Individuals and student ensembles are not eligible. Volunteer, community, and amateur ensembles are generally not eligible except when authorized in advance to apply by the Grants Manager.

Funding Provisions

In general, grants range from $1,000 to $20,000. Grant amounts for larger organizations with a demonstrated extraordinary commitment to contemporary American music may exceed these amounts at the discretion of the panel. Please note that the awarding of a grant for general operating support in one year does not imply continuation of that support in subsequent years. Project support grants are for that project only, and no more than one grant will be awarded for a single project.

Review Procedures

Funding decisions will be made by a peer panel chosen by the Fund. The following criteria will be applied in evaluating grant proposals:

  • For ensembles: artistic quality of the ensemble's performances, as determined from the work samples, and its overall repertoire.
  • For presenters, or organizations that are otherwise involved with performances: artistic quality of the ensembles and repertoire being presented.
  • For general operating support applicants: commitment to high-quality performances of contemporary American music over a substantial period of time.
  • Demonstrated financial ability to carry a season or project to completion.
  • Impact of the funded activity on encouraging and improving the public knowledge and appreciation of American contemporary music.

Please be advised that the panel may consult an applicant’s web site, social media accounts, and other publicly available information as a means to verify information contained within a proposal.

How to Apply

If your organization does not already have an account on our site:

You will need to create a new account. We will approve new accounts as quickly as possible, but please allow up to 3 business days for approval.

If your organization already has an account on our site:

Log in here. Then click on the "Apply Now" button at the top of this page to begin the online application process. The proposal may be completed in stages; it is not necessary to complete the application in one session.

Save your work often.

A complete application will include the following:

Organization Information

  • Contact information
  • A copy of the IRS determination letter confirming tax exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and that the applicant is not a private foundation.
    • Organizations not based in the United States should submit a letter from a lawyer in the home jurisdiction of the applicant confirming its equivalence to a publicly funded 501(c)(3) organization.
    • Organizations applying with a fiscal sponsor must submit a letter from the sponsoring organization describing the nature of the arrangement and undertaking to be responsible for disbursement of funds if a grant is awarded, as well as the sponsor’s IRS tax-exempt determination letter. (Create one PDF that contains both items).
  • Federal tax ID number (for U.S. applicants)
  • 3-year financial snapshot

Applicant Information 

  • Type of organization
  • Mission of the organization
  • Number of concerts projected in the support year and performed or presented each of the last two years


  • The amount and type of support (general operating or project support) requested, and purpose of the request.
  • If project support is requested, a description of the project, a breakdown of the project costs, and sources of income.
  • History of the organization and information on the principal artistic personnel and/or ensemble members.
  • Description of the audiences that are served, including size, age groups, and geographic regions.
  • Only for applicants who received an award in last year’s Performing Ensembles Program: A summary of the activity during the period covered by the award, a general description of how the award was used, and a brief explanation if the activity differed substantially from what was proposed in the prior year's application.

Musical Materials

  • Recordings of 3 contemporary compositions performed by the ensemble (for performing ensemble applicants) or a representative sample of the ensemble(s) to be presented (for presenter applicants)
    • All musical samples must be recorded within the two performance seasons immediately prior to the application date (i.e., for the 2023 round, within the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 seasons). Each recording should be between 3 and 5 minutes in length (excerpts are acceptable).
    • Recordings should be of live performances and not edited studio sessions unless no live recordings are available.
    • Musical examples should demonstrate the performance quality of the members of the ensemble playing together in representative repertoire, rather than feature extended soloistic passages.
    • Each submitted recording must include the title of the work, names of the composer and performer(s) and date of the performance.
  • For 1 of the 3 recordings, a score in PDF format marked at the point at which listening is to begin. Only the pages of the score that reflect the relevant recording sample should be included. If a PDF score cannot be acquired for any of the musical examples, please contact the Grants Manager for advice.
  • For projects featuring the work of a particular composer(s) or a performer(s) not already represented in the musical samples, a recording of a representative sample of the recent work of that (those) composer(s) or performer(s), even if the recording is by performers other than the applicant ensemble, must be included. If necessary, the sample may be from a performance or a recording session prior to the two performance seasons immediately prior to the application date, but should be as recent as possible. If sample recordings cannot be furnished for a proposed project, or if there are questions about the appropriateness of sample recordings for a proposed project, contact the Grants Manager for advice.
  • For opera, ballet projects, and any other applicant for which the visual element is important to the presentation of the music, video work samples of the company, performers, the choreographer, the project’s director, and other key personnel. Video samples should involve live performances of contemporary music.
    • If a video work sample is not available due to legal or contractual obligations, the reason for the omission of such samples must be clearly stated in the proposal

Work samples should represent a range of repertoire and instrumentation. If available work samples do not strictly meet the guidelines’ requirements, contact the Grants Manager for advice.

Supporting Materials

All supporting documents should be letter size PDFs in portrait orientation.

  • A list of all performances and repertoire in the Support Year, the current year, and the previous year, listed in that order. This should amount to three consecutive years of information and include titles, composers, and work durations. Works written by American composers within the last 40 years should be indicated with boldface type for both the composer’s name and the name of the work. Please do not submit this list in the form of season brochures.
  • A list with award amounts of foundation, corporate, and government support for the Support Year, the current year, and the previous year. This should amount to three consecutive years of support information. (Projections are acceptable for the support year and, to the extent necessary, the current year.)
  • A list of members of the Board of Directors (or equivalent) and their principal affiliations.
  • Budget for the Support Year and financial statements (audited if available) for the current year (projections are acceptable) and the preceding year. This should amount to three consecutive years of financial information. Download recommended Excel budget template
    • For applicants whose performance season and fiscal year do not coincide, please indicate this in the application.

Save your work often.

Application Deadline

The deadline for applications for each calendar year is 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on June 30. The 2023 deadline has been changed to July 7, 2023 in consideration of the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

Applicants will be notified of funding decisions in or about November of that year. Please do not contact the Fund for information on funding decisions.

IMPORTANT: You are responsible for complying with all legal and contractual requirements that may apply to the creation of your materials. The Copland Fund hereby disclaims all legal responsibility in connection with your submissions. In case of questions, consult your legal advisor.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA") Policy


Prospective applicants are first encouraged to read the Frequently Asked Questions. If your question is not answered there, please contact the Grants Manager prior to the time of application.

Telephone: 212-461-6956 (Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET)

Updated: April 21, 2023

See lists of grantees from previous rounds

Performance Program FAQs

When will decisions be announced?

Award decisions will be announced in or about November of the application year. Please do not contact the Fund for updates about grant decisions.

Please also see the General FAQs.
What is the Fund looking for in a project description?

The project description should be a detailed description of the specific project for which you are requesting support.  For example, applicants should include information about the performers, repertoire, venue(s), timeframe and audiences served for a proposed concert series. For non-concert projects, applicants should supply details about the personnel and participants involved, timeframe for completion, and end goal of a proposed project.

Our organization regularly presents concerts of contemporary American music, but we don't have a "core ensemble." May we apply to the Performance Program?


What is the Fund looking for in a proposal narrative?

A proposal narrative should be a general description of your organization’s activities, plans for the upcoming season, and any other significant points to make your case for support. Applicants applying for general operating support are required to submit only a proposal narrative. Applicants applying for project support are required to submit a proposal narrative and a project description.

We are a performing ensemble that presents our own concerts as well as other performers. May we apply to the Performance Program?

Yes, the Performance Program accepts applicant ensembles that are self-presenting as well as hybrid presenter-ensemble organizations.

Our organization is applying with a fiscal sponsor. Whose information do I use to create the account?

Organizations applying with a fiscal sponsor should create the account using their own contact information, not that of the fiscal sponsor.

Our organization does not have non-profit status. Can we apply?

Organizations without non-profit status may seek support with the sponsorship of a non-profit organization with 501(c)(3) status. You must submit a letter from the sponsoring organization describing the nature of the arrangement, and undertaking to be responsible for disbursement of funds if a grant is awarded. In addition, you must include the sponsor’s IRS tax-exempt determination letter. Create one PDF that contains both items.

How long should my proposal be?

Please do not exceed the maximum number of characters for each section of the proposal.

We are applying with a fiscal sponsor. For ‘organizational budgets’ should we submit our ensemble's budgets or the fiscal sponsor's?

Submit your ensemble's budgets. Do not include personal income and expenditures or other information not related to the activities of the performance entity for which you are applying. We will follow up with you if we need more information about your fiscal sponsor.

What is the difference between organizational budgets and financial statements (in the supporting materials section)?

Organizational budgets refer to three consecutive years of revenue and expense statements:

  1. the actual statement from the preceding fiscal year
  2. a projected statement (budget) for the current fiscal year
  3. a projected statement (budget) for the fiscal year for which support is requested

We strongly recommend using our Excel template to create your statement, which indicates the format level of detail we generally like to see. However, we will accept other formats.

Financial statements refer to statements, often prepared by an accountant and sometimes audited, that reflect a more complete picture of an organization's financial details, including statements of activity, cash flow, balance sheets, and accompanying notes. Not every organization is required to have an audited financial statement, however, if your organization has one for any of the past three fiscal years, you are required to submit the latest one.