Steppenwolf, Ailey, CTG, SITI Among Arts Orgs Receiving Duke/NFF Grants

News   Steppenwolf, Ailey, CTG, SITI Among Arts Orgs Receiving Duke/NFF Grants
Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF) announced on Oct. 14 the ten U.S. not-for-profit arts organizations that will participate in a $15.125 million initiative designed to help those groups explore new business and funding ideas.

Funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, NFF's five-year program will allow each nonprofit "to tackle sector-wide challenges such as shifting audiences, decreased funding sources, and new technologies."

Grants have been awarded to:

  • Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation (New York, NY), to explore a new model of online patron engagement for its celebration of African-American heritage through modern dance.
  • Center Theatre Group (Los Angeles, CA), to explore new subscription and producing models resonant with young audiences.


  • Cunningham Dance Foundation (New York, NY), to transition to a post-founder legacy period as it furthers the work of legendary choreographer Merce Cunningham.
  • Jacob's Pillow Dance (Becket, MA), to extend its impact as the longest-running dance festival in the United States by using technology to become a national resource and model.
  • Misnomer Dance Theater (New York, NY), to develop new relationships between technology and dance that build on its work as a pioneer in online expression and marketing.
  • National Black Arts Festival (Atlanta, GA), a year-round cultural celebration of the contributions of artists of African descent, to expand the audience online for the art and performance work of education pertaining to Africa and the African Diaspora.
  • Ping Chong & Company (New York, NY), to explore a new financial model by franchising a community-organizing experimental theatre project.
  • SITI Company (New York, NY), to establish this ensemble-based theatre company as a resident New York City organization with relevant partnerships and support.
  • Steppenwolf Theatre Company (Chicago, IL), to explore new modes of producing and engaging young audiences, including partnerships with other arts groups and universities.
  • The Wooster Group (New York, NY), to explore a new producing model, pursue partnerships, and take on a new educational role in contemporary theatre. The grants, under the title, "Leading for the Future: Innovative Support for Artistic Excellence," offer recipients "significant funding, technical assistance, and NFF advisory services as they implement their promising programmatic, financial and operating innovations to strengthen their business models."

    The initiative "will allow participants to test new ways for the performing arts field to bolster organizational capacity, mitigate financial risk, and increase the ability to offer top-notch relevant programming," according to the NFF.

    "'Business as usual' is no longer an option for many nonprofit arts organizations, and standard funding practices give them little room to invest in bold and experimental solutions to economic challenges," stated Ben Cameron, director for the arts for the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. "We in the funding community must be willing to take risks to test new ideas — especially when the road gets rough — in order to secure a vibrant, sustainable future for the organizations we support."

    "[These] participants have already proven themselves adept at artistic innovation; now, they will lead the way for arts organizations to reinvent their business platforms so the artistic side will be reliably supported," stated Clara Miller, president and CEO of NFF. "At a time when restricted gifts and carefully predicted outcomes are the status quo, this program offers these organizations the latitude and support that is required for true experimentation and change."


    Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF) is a national leader in nonprofit, philanthropic and social enterprise finance. Founded in 1980, NFF ( provides loan financing, access to capital and direct advisory services that build the capacity and the financial health of nonprofits. A leading community development financial institution with over $80 million in assets, NFF has provided over $175 million in loans and access to additional financing via grants, tax credits and capital in support of over $1 billion in projects for thousands of nonprofit clients nationwide. NFF has a staff of more than 75 serving nonprofits nationally from offices in Philadelphia, New York City, Newark, New Jersey, Boston, Detroit, Washington, DC, and San Francisco.

    The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation ( is to improve the quality of people's lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and the prevention of child maltreatment, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke's properties.

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