New Report: New Report Highlights Impact and Evolution of NEFA’s National Theater Project

From New England Foundation for the Arts: The New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) today released a comprehensive evaluation of the National Theater Project (NTP).

NTP functions as a full system of support for devised theater, which in addition to funding, animates an informed, interactive network of producing theaters, presenters, and ensembles. Since the first round of NTP grants in 2010, NEFA has infused over $11 million into the field through the program. To date, 96 new theater works have been supported through Creation and Touring grants; touring of those works has reached 43 different states across the U.S. NTP projects have toured in-person and virtually to large and small arts presenters, military bases, universities, regional theaters, and festivals. 

“This thorough evaluation includes recommendations that will enable NEFA to deepen the support of NTP grantees and the development of the field,” said Quita Sullivan, NTP program director. “The report demonstrates how the NTP model of artists, presenters, and advisors creates an ecosystem of continual growth and impact. I am grateful for the artists, presenters, and advisors who took time to participate in this evaluation."  

NEFA commissioned McNeil Creative Enterprises to complete the National Theater Project Evaluation. The evaluation team delved into the program data and activities and surveyed artists, presenters, advisors, and staff to:

  • Understand what has worked well and the potential areas for improvement.
  • Identify and track the most applicable NTP performance measures.
  • Illustrate how NEFA can sustain its equity, diversity, intersectionality, and accessibility (EDIA) commitment and priorities.

NEFA’s National Theater Project is made possible with lead funding from the Mellon Foundation and additional support from the Doris Duke Foundation. Both funders recently renewed their commitment to NTP; the Mellon Foundation awarded $4,412,000 and the Doris Duke Foundation has awarded $1,725,000, each over a three-year period. “In this critical moment where artists are providing us with narratives to help us deeply understand and contend with the social conditions and social imaginations of our current times, it is reassuring to know that NEFA will be in a good position to further the work of the National Theater Project for the next few years,” said NEFA executive Director Harold Steward.

This evaluation examines the impact the program has had on the field and explores how it can continue to evolve to deepen support, including:

  • How NEFA’s equity, diversity, intersectionality, and accessibility (EDIA) values drive the program design, from the program structure to advisor recruiting, and creating responsive grant criteria.
  • How diversifying and strengthening the field is reflected in the grantees and project tours.
  • How NTP gatherings, including regional convenings across the country to learn about the needs in the field and annual cohort meetings to fully support projects, remain an essential piece of program design.
  • How the program design strengthens connections among artists, advisors, and presenters, supporting the field at large.

Access the full report here.