Deadline: July 29, 2022

NPN contributes to a more just and equitable world by building artists’ power; advancing racial and cultural justice in the arts; fostering relationship-building and reciprocity between individuals, institutions and communities; and working towards systems change in arts and philanthropy.  They envision a world in which artists have greater power and resources for meaningful, sustainable careers; strong networks maximize their collective wisdom, resources and leadership; cultural infrastructure reflects deeper partnerships and more equitable practices; and communities have greater opportunity and capacity for civic engagement, representation and joy.

The National Performance Network was founded in 1985 to address a national dilemma: artistic isolation and economic restraints that constricted the flow of creative ideas within and among communities, independent artists, and locally-engaged arts organizations in the United States. Founder David R. White, then executive director of New York City’s Dance Theater Workshop (DTW), called together a group of 14 artist-centered, geographically-diverse presenting organizations to imagine together how these challenges might be met, and the group of organizations (known as Partners) became the National Performance Network, a robust network of adventurous and dedicated founding Partners and a centralized source of national funding for the presentation of performing artists.Over the next dozen years, NPN developed a deeper intention around the composition of its network, prioritizing historically marginalized voices and clarifying its values around equity and justice. The network doubled in size by the late 1990s, engaging more organizations of color, artist-led organizations, and geographically-isolated Partners. During this time, NPN also developed new programs to support commissioning, deeper community engagement, and leadership development; and, through DTW’s Suitcase Fund, participated in international exchange programs.

NPN’s Southern Artists for Social Change envisions a world in which people of color living, working, and organizing for community change in the South have the power, resources, and opportunities to thrive. NPN’s mission is to contribute to a more just and equitable world by building artists’ power; advancing racial and cultural justice in the arts; fostering relationships between individuals, institutions, and communities; and working toward systems change in arts and philanthropy. Southern Artists for Social Change is part of the Surdna Foundation’s “Radical Imagination for Racial Justice” initiative, supporting civic practice projects that bring artists of color into collaboration and co-design with community partners and local residents of color around a community-defined vision. This pilot program awarded its first grants in 2020.


  • The National Performance Network’s Southern Artists for Social Change program provides $25,000 project grants to artists and culture bearers of color living, working, and engaging in social change in urban, rural, and tribal communities of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi.


  • Artists and culture bearers who identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or people of color (BIPOC) living, working, and engaging in social change in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
  • Artists and culture bearers with demonstrated practice in any discipline.
  • Individual artists as well as artist collectives may apply. Artist collectives must have a demonstrated history of creating new work collectively for at least two years.
  • Applicants must be 18 years of age or older by application deadline.
  • Applicants must be AL, LA, or MS residents for at least five consecutive years at the time of both application and payment and must provide a valid state ID.
  • Projects should demonstrate a civic practice process to (1) identify specific community challenges or needs, (2) imagine a different future for the community, and (3) practice, test, or design approaches toward that future that center racial justice.
  • While projects may be artist-driven, projects should include at least two community members (individuals, agencies, organizations) as collaborators who share in decision-making, shaping the project and project outcomes.
  • Grants may support any phase of a project (research, development, production, etc.), including new initiatives or ongoing work, and a portion of funding should directly support the artist(s).

Eligible Regions: Open for All.


Application Process

Complete the online form and answer the following questions:

  • What specific community challenge does your project address? Tell us about the specific challenge your project aims to spotlight and change, its relation to the community affected, and the importance of disrupting this challenge.
  • Imagine your community has overcome this challenge. What would the community look or feel like? What elements would you put in place to make your community a more racially just place in the future?
  • How does your project work toward this new future? Feel free to describe strategies, models, and tools that you will use to build this future.
  • Is the project new or ongoing? If ongoing, when did the project start and where are you in the process now?
  • Does the project focus on a process, creating a product or outcome, or both?
  • What community partners are involved with this project and what are their roles? Are these partners part of the ongoing network of support already in place? (Community partners can be individuals, organizations, agencies, etc.)
  • How do these community partnerships advance racial justice?
  • What is your relationship with these community partners? Is there a history of collaboration between you and them?
  • How are the vision and decision-making of the project shared among the partners?

Click Here To Apply

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