UMEZ And Mertz Gilmore Foundation Create Seed Fund For Dance For Upper Manhattan Artists And Choreographers

Today, UMEZ and the Mertz Gilmore Foundation announced a new award for Upper Manhattan individual artists and groups with dance or choreographic talent.

This grant program is intended for grassroots dance projects taking place in Upper Manhattan between January 1, 2022, and February 28, 2023.

The UMEZ Mertz Gilmore Seed Fund for Dance was created to reach deeply into the Uptown dance community in search of talented artists and organizations not currently eligible for other grants offered by the UMEZ Cultural Investment Fund.


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This program seeks to acknowledge the important contributions of these unsung individual dancers and organizations to the artistic vibrancy of Upper Manhattan communities.

Program funding is provided by the Mertz Gilmore Foundation.

“We are proud to have been selected by the Mertz Gilmore Foundation to conduct a regrant program for the as yet untapped dance community in Upper Manhattan,” said Blair M. Duncan, president and CEO of UMEZ. “This grant provides UMEZ the opportunity to use our hyper-local knowledge of our neighborhoods to support emerging dance artists and deepen ties with our cultural community.”

The UMEZ Mertz Gilmore Seed Fund for Dance will roll out in two cycles. Eight grantees will be selected per cycle for a total of 16 awards of $5,000 each.

The first application cycle is currently open and will close on Wednesday, September 8, 2021 at 5 p.m. EDT.

The project activities for this first cycle must take place between January 1 and July 31, 2022. The second cycle will have an application window of Monday, January 31, 2022 until Friday, April 1, 2022 at 5 p.m. EDT.

The project activities for the second cycle must take place between August 1, 2022, and February 28, 2023.

“The regrant partnership between the Mertz Gilmore Foundation and UMEZ responds to the needs of a vulnerable segment of the Uptown dance community – small companies, independent artists, and culturally-specific collectives – that often lack access to traditional philanthropy and have been disproportionately devastated by the pandemic,” said Leah Krauss, Senior Program Officer for Dance and Special Projects, Mertz Gilmore Foundation. “UMEZ is best dialed into their needs and has specialized access to a wide Upper Manhattan audience base.”

The UMEZ Mertz Gilmore Seed Fund for Dance will support individual dance artists, ensembles, collectives, and nonprofit organizations with annual budgets of $250,000 or below in their pursuit of a project that expresses their artistic vision.

Applicants are encouraged to use funds to pay artist fees, recognizing that for communities to benefit most from artistry, artists must thrive.

Projects must be available to the public and can be performances, workshops, trainings, arts education activities, and other ventures fostering community engagement through dance.

For guidelines and application to the UMEZ Mertz Gilmore Seed Fund for Dance visit umez.org/seed-fund-for-dance.

UMEZ is an independent not-for-profit corporation whose mission is to sustain the economic revitalization of all communities of Upper Manhattan through job creation, corporate alliances, strategic investments, and small business assistance.

UMEZ is part of a national network of certified CDFI Funds that promote economic growth by financing businesses, creating jobs, and rebuilding neighborhoods.

UMEZ facilitates economic development in the neighborhoods of Central, West, and East Harlem; Washington Heights; and Inwood.

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