New Music USA Announces Creator Development Fund Grant Recipients

Written By

Megan Ihnen

New York, NY (April 5, 2021) – New Music USA is pleased to announce the selection of 53 awardees for the first round of the New Music USA Creator Development Fund. The fund was launched to support individual music creators who are feeling the impact of canceled commissions, work, gigs, touring, and an uncertain future. These outstanding artists represent the imaginative, diverse, and highly creative field that New Music USA is dedicated to supporting.

Totaling $200,410 in funding, this year’s grants support a wide range of collaborative activities with new music as a central element. 68% of the awardees are artists of color and 51% are women.

“The number and quality of applications submitted to our Creator Development Fund has been exceptional. We’re hearing from a broader range of creators than ever before and their shared commitment to collaboration in these challenging times gives us inspiration and hope. Our only regret is not being able to support more of the 1,000+ applications to this fund. Individual artists need as much help as the organizations that put on their work – it’s the continued risk taking and creativity of music creators that enables the art form we love to keep evolving and bringing us joy.” said Vanessa Reed, New Music USA’s President & CEO.

New Music USA is committed to making all of our grant programs equitable, by removing barriers in the application process and by consistently elevating all artists and organizations who receive our support. Creator Development Fund applicants are given simple guidelines and are asked to supply a brief project description (either written or video recorded) and work samples.

New Music USA’s peer review process for Creator Development Fund applications reflects ongoing efforts to dismantle bias. For this round, which attracted 1,100 applications, New Music USA engaged 39 artists, composers, musicians, and administrators, building a panel formed of 49% women and 54% people of color, working from locations around the country.

Creator Development Fund Recipients for 2021


Alicia Waller New York New York
Angélica Negrón Brooklyn New York
Ava Mendoza Brooklyn New York
Brenda Moorer Stone Mountain Georgia
Brittany Green Durham North Carolina
Carolina Borja Maple Heights Ohio
Christopher Tordini Brooklyn New York
Darian Dauchan New York New York
David Dominique Richmond Virginia
David Leon Brooklyn New York
Fahad Siadat Los Angeles California
Helen Sung Forest Hills New York
Hery Paz Sunnyside New York
Ishmael Ali Chicago Illinois
Jacob Adler Scottsdale Arizona
Jean Carla Rodea Brooklyn New York
Joseph Bohigian Clovis California
Justin Jones Minneapolis Minnesota
Justin Morell Hershey Pennsylvania
Kadhja Bonet Long Beach California
Kala Pierson Bryn Mawr Pennsylvania
Kala Ramnath Redwood City California
Kaleigh Wilder Detroit Michigan
Kali Rodriguez-Pena New York New York
Katherine Skovira Salem Oregon
Kavita Shah New York New York
Kristina Dutton Healdsburg California
Kyle Kidd Cleveland Ohio
Lee Weisert Chapel Hill North Carolina
Leyla McCalla New Orleans Louisiana
Lisa Bielawa New York New York
Luke Paulino Manhattan New York
Luke Stewart Washington District of Columbia
Melanie Dyer New York New York
Michael Bussewitz-Quarm Sound Beach New York
Michele Cheng San Jose California
Molly Joyce Fairfield Connecticut
Najite Agindotan Los Angeles California
Naomi Blount Brooklyn New York
Niloufar Nourbakhsh Vernon Rockville Connecticut
Nirmala Rajasekar Plymouth Minnesota
Ochion Jewell Brooklyn New York
Paul Wiancko Brooklyn New York
Renee Benson New Orleans Louisiana
Richie Goods Putnam Valley New York
Stephen J Gladney New Orleans Louisiana
Tomeka Reid Chicago Illinois
Troi Irons Las Vegas Nevada
Victoria Cheah Bronx New York
Wendell Harrison Detroit Michigan
William Dougherty New York New York
Yacine Boulares Brooklyn New York
가민 Gamin New York New York

We would like to extend our deep gratitude to the panelists who reviewed Creator Development Fund applications.

Emily Bookwalter, Seth Boustead, Kenji Bunch, Zac Bru, Yu-Hui Chang, Etienne Charles, Gerald Clayton, Adam Conrad, Kahlil Cummings, Natacha Diels, Joe Dyson, James Falzone, Ashley Gordon, Liz Harris, Mila Henry-Moore, Val Jeanty, Galen Joseph-Hunter, Laura Kaminsky, Texu Kim, Juarj Kojs, Lei Liang, Mary Madigan, Billy Mark, Aakash Mittal, Ravish Momin, Stephan Moore, Kyle Motl, Laura Ortman, Neva Pilgrim, Samora Pinderhughes, Kelley Rourke, Anne Ruffley, Sara Serpa, Derrick Spiva, Mazz Swift, Rhonda Taylor, Sumi Tonooka, Ashley Tata, and Trevor Weston.

New Music USA Partnership Grant recipients for 2021

New Music USA also awards a small number of Partnership Grants to complement funding available through open calls and fixed deadlines. The following artist-led initiatives align with the priorities of our Creator Development Fund, providing music creators and individual artists with unique opportunities for collaboration, mentorship, and peer learning.


M³ (Mutual Mentorship for Musicians) was created in the spring of 2020 to empower and elevate musicians of historically underrepresented gender identities in the US and worldwide (including musicians otherwise underrepresented on the basis of race, sexuality, or ability across generations) through a new model of mentorship and an ongoing performance series of new collaborative commissions. With the aim of building new paradigms of mentorship, M³ celebrates a wide network of artists, providing a think tank for new ways to connect, collaborate, support and create.


Composing Earth is a new commissioning program for alums of the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music who are committed to centering their focus and creativity on climate change. A full two-year program, members of each season’s Composing Earth cohort will spend the first year in a monthly discussion group with fellow alums, Gabriela, and renowned climate science scholar Dr. Rob Davies. This lengthy study period will be supported by a study stipend, before composing commences.


New Music Gathering is an annual conference/festival hybrid dedicated to the performance, production, promotion, support, and creation of new and forward-thinking music. With concerts, lecture/recitals, roundtable discussions, talks, and choreographed socializing like musician meet-ups and live action role playing games, NMG aims to be both a conference in the traditional sense but also quite literally a collective place for things to grow, improve, solidify, and above all get personal! Co-organized by musicians Lainie Fefferman, Daniel Felsenfeld, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Jascha Narveson, and Angélica Negrón, New Music Gathering aims to meet the needs and interests of the music making community in ways that are increasingly direct, to spark and develop collaborative relationships, and to celebrate diversity of perspective and process.

Find out more about the New Music USA Partnership Grants here.

Funding for the New Music Creator Development Fund

The Creator Development Fund received major support from Howard Gilman Foundation, The Amphion Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Sony Music Group, Cheswatyr Foundation, The ASCAP Foundation, and BMI Foundation.

This program is funded in part by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and with support from The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and the Rodgers and Hammerstein Foundation.

New Music USA also acknowledges and is grateful for the support of its endowment donors, including The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Helen F. Whitaker Fund, Baisley Powell Elebash Fund, Hewlett Foundation, Fidelity Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, and Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts.

Support for New Music USA and its many programs and activities is provided by foundations, corporations, government agencies, and hundreds of individual contributors. Find out more here.

Funding Transparency

Both the New Music Creator Development Fund and the New Music Organizational Development Fund are made possible by the generous funders who either donated to our endowment or generously donate to New Music USA annually. Some of these funders had or have specific requests regarding the kinds of work we support because of their geographical location or specific music genre. We are providing the facts and figures below so that all applicants have a better insight into these restrictions, which influence the applications our advisors select. Please note that applications may cover a number of the categories listed below; others may not fit with any.

  • Award rates are generally between 5% and 10% of the overall applicant pool (this means we support around 1/10 of the applications we receive each year)
  • Roughly 25% of the applications we fund must include the creation of new work (e.g. commissions and facilitation of brand new pieces of music)
  • Roughly 25% of the applications we award must include creation or programming of live music for dance (creation, performance, choreographer, and dancer fees)

Geographical restrictions are as follows:

  • 49% of our grants budget is available without geographical restriction
  • 35% is restricted to New York City based artists/organizations
  • 11% is restricted to New York State based artists/organizations
  • 2% is restricted to New Jersey based artists/organizations
  • 2% is restricted to California Bay Area based artists/organizations
  • 1% is restricted to Pennsylvania based artists/organizations

About New Music USA

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.