New Music USA Launches Two-Year Capacity-Building Program

Written By

Megan Ihnen

Two-Year Capacity-Building Program for NYC-Based Music Organizations
DEADLINE: March 18, 2021 AT 11:59 PM EDT

The New Music Capacity Building Program was funded and made possible by
The New York Community Trust. 

About the Program

Thanks to support from New York Community Trust, New Music USA is leading a two-year capacity-building program for a diverse cohort of small sized groups committed to presenting, performing, or promoting new music by living music creators on a regular basis. This new program will combine financial support with professional development opportunities to aid ten NYC-based organizations as they navigate their way through the next stages of COVID 19 and beyond.

The program will offer a flexible approach to the selected groups or organizations; each will receive $5,000 per year for two years, for a total of $10,000 each, in order to implement organizational plans that they will design in consultation with New Music USA staff and industry experts. Program content will be dictated by the participating organizations. At this stage, we are expecting the following topics to be of importance:

  • audience development
  • fundraising
  • digital marketing and presentation
  • equity and inclusion
  • peer collaboration
  • scenario planning

Our overarching goal is to create a supportive space through which a cohort of artist-led organizations can learn together, sharing the unique challenges and opportunities they face.


Vanessa Reed, President and CEO of New Music USA, says,

“This new program demonstrates our belief that – alongside financial help – connectivity, learning, and sharing of experience can be transformative for organizations within our community as they develop plans for uncertain times. I’m extremely grateful to the New York Community Trust for giving us this opportunity to focus exclusively on the grass roots of our ecosystem: small music collectives and organizations which enrich the city’s infrastructure through their imagination, flexibility, and vast network of associated artists.”

Summary of program activities

Selected applicants will need to commit to:

  • Three convenings of cohort members per year for two years to share progress and ideas, and to hear from guest speakers and experts in response to needs expressed by members of the cohort
  • A spending plan for the $10,000 bursary towards the organization’s capacity building needs
  • A clear set of goals and objectives
  • Peer collaboration and sharing amongst the awarded grantees


Applicants deemed eligible for funding consideration must demonstrate the following:

  • Be based in New York City, as defined by the five boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and Bronx. We will accept an organizational mailing address and evidence of NYC-based programming
  • Have presented public programming in NYC in 2017, 2018, and 2019. We understand that programming may have been suspended or significantly altered in 2020
  • Demonstrate cohesiveness as an organization or collective. Individual artists will not be eligible for funding through this program
  • Be able to provide group financials for 2017, 2018, and 2019 with an annual budget under $250,000
  • Demonstrate a commitment to the presentation, performance, or promotion of new music by living creators
  • Have a dedicated organization bank account
  • Commit fully to participate in the program for all two years, contributing to the cohort. The selected participants will demonstrate self-motivation and enthusiasm for partnering with others on this program’s challenges
  • Be able to track and articulate outcomes

Review Criteria

Applications will be evaluated based on the following criteria. Due to the collaborative nature of this unique program, final selection will be based on ensuring a cohesive and diverse cohort as a whole.

  • Artistry
  • Commitment to performing, presenting, or promoting new music by living creators regularly in NYC
  • Service and engagement to NYC communities
  • Demonstration of readiness to move to the next level of organizational development, as demonstrated through track record of growth, as defined by the group


Ten ensembles or venues will be selected to participate in the program over a two-year period. Awards of $5,000 will be made for each year of participation.

Application Materials

  • Completed online application form, submitted by deadline of March 18, 2021
  • 2 to 3 work samples, demonstrating artistry and the work of living creators
  • Programming list that articulates organization’s role as presenters or promoters of new music
  • Annual budgets for Fiscal Years 2017, 2018, and 2019


Deadline will be March 18, 2021. Awards announced by end of March. First convening mid-April 2021.



The Trust is the community foundation for New York City, Westchester, and Long Island. Thanks to the generosity of individuals, families, and businesses — and the guidance of their professional advisors—we are one of the largest funders of local nonprofits. We support programs and projects to improve the lives of all New Yorkers, with an emphasis on promoting healthy lives, promising futures, and thriving communities. Our competitive grants are made possible by funds set up by donor bequests and wills and are announced five times a year. See most recent announcement here. The Trust has many living donors who suggest grants from donor-advised funds. Also, several funder collaboratives are housed at The Trust, such as the Donors’ Education Collaborative. They combine the thinking and resources of several foundations and make grants throughout the year.


New Music USA supports the sounds of tomorrow by nurturing the creation, performance, and appreciation of new music for adventurous listeners around the world. We empower and connect US-based music makers, organizations, and audiences by providing funding through our Project Grants; fostering new connections through our programs; deepening knowledge through our online magazine, NewMusicBox; and working as an advocate for the field. New Music USA works in collaboration with its community in response to pressing needs and to amplify the diverse voices of music creators. New Music USA envisions a thriving and equitable ecosystem for new music throughout the United States.

Pictured (L to R) above: Juliette Jones, Monique Brooks-Roberts, Nate Smith, Jarvis Benson, Malcolm Parson.
Photographer: Joseph DiGiovanna