Ditson Organizational Support

Organizational Support

We are not accepting applications for Organizational Support at this time.

Please note the change of award cycles for service organizations that do not have a scheduled concert season.  Please submit service organization applications in the Fall cycle.

The Program's Objective

To support performing organizations, institutions, summer festivals and conferences whose artistic excellence encourages and improves public knowledge and appreciation of works by younger and relatively unknown, living American composers of classical concert music.


April 1st deadline: Funds are available for General Operating Support or Project Support for professional performing ensembles and institutions with a history of substantial commitment to works by younger and relatively unknown, living American composers.

October 1st deadline: Funds are available for organizations with summer festivals and conferences devoted primarily to the performance of contemporary American music with a history of substantial commitment to works by younger and relatively unknown, living American composers. 

Applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Non-profit tax-exempt status.
  • Organizational history of at least two years at the time of application.
  • Demonstrated commitment to contemporary American music.

It is advised that organizations whose programming (in terms of duration) for the preceding 2 seasons does not consist of at least 50% contemporary American music apply only for Project Support. Grants will not be made for the purpose of commissioning composers. Requests from dance companies are eligible, but only for costs associated with live performances of music by contemporary American composers of classical concert music.

Project support will be given only for a project that begins in the current season. Thus, for the 2023 grant round, support will only be given to projects that begin between July 2023 and June 2024. For summer festivals and conferences, support will be given for events taking place during summer 2024.

The Fund expects applicants to pay reasonable and customary compensation for licenses for all performances and other uses of music that they make. Requiring composers or publishers to waive their compensation as a condition of performing or otherwise using their music is not acceptable and will cause an application to be rejected.

Funding Provisions

In general, grants range from $1,000 to $5,000. Grant amounts for larger performing organizations with a demonstrated extraordinary commitment to contemporary American music may exceed these amounts at the discretion of the panel. Please note that the awarding of a grant in one year does not imply continuation of that support in subsequent years.

Review Procedures

Funding decisions will be made by the Alice M. Ditson Fund advisory committee. The following criteria will be applied in evaluating grant proposals:

  • Artistic quality and repertoire of the applicant.
  • Commitment to the performance of works by younger and relatively unknown, living American composers over a substantial period of time.
  • Demonstrated financial ability to carry a season or project to completion.

Please be advised that the panel may consult an applicant’s web site, social media accounts, and other publicly available information as a means to verify information contained within a proposal.

How to Apply

If your organization does not already have an account on our site:

You will need to create a new account. We will approve new accounts as quickly as possible, but please allow one business day for approval.

If your organization already has an account on our site:

Log in here. Then click on the "Start a New Application" button at the top of this page to begin the online application process. You may work on your proposal and save it as you go along. It is not necessary to complete the application in one session. You will need to supply the following information:

Organization Information

  • Contact information
  • A copy of the IRS determination letter confirming tax exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and that the applicant is not a private foundation. Fiscal sponsors are acceptable. If the applicant organization is not based in the United States, the application will require an American fiscal sponsor with 501(c)3 status. Any awards will be paid to that fiscal sponsor.
  • W-9 and Federal tax ID number
  • 3-year financial snapshot

Applicant Information 

  • Type of ensemble, institution, festival or conference
  • Mission of the organization
  • Number of concerts projected in the support year and performed each of the preceding two years


  • Indicate the amount and type of support (general operating or project support) requested, and purpose of the request.
  • If project support is requested, please provide a description of the project, a breakdown of the project costs, and sources of income.
  • History of the organization and information on the principal artistic personnel.
  • Description of the audiences that are served, including size, age groups, and geographic regions.
  • Only for applicants who received an award in last year’s grant round: A summary of the activity during the period covered by the award, a general description of how the award was used, and a brief explanation if the activity differed substantially from what was proposed in the prior year's application.

Musical Materials

Please read the following bullet points carefully.  We require a recording of 1 contemporary composition performed by the ensemble AND Recordings of each work to be programmed by younger and relatively unknown, living American composers or other representational samples by the composer.  You need to send samples for both points 1 and 2 below.  Ideally your application should have at least 3 or 4 recordings.

  • A recording of 1 contemporary composition performed by the ensemble or presented by the festival or conference, and recorded within the two performance seasons immediately prior to the application date (i.e, for the 2023 round, within the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 seasons). The recording should be between 3 and 10 minutes in length (an excerpt is acceptable). Please submit a recording of a live performance, and not edited studio sessions, unless no live recordings are available. The example should demonstrate the performance quality of the core members of the ensemble playing music in a comparable style to the music which is programmed for the upcoming season.
  • Recordings of each work to be programmed by younger and relatively unknown, living American composers or other representational samples by the composer. For summer festivals and conference applicants, please submit recordings of works from the previous year’s event if the programming for the upcoming event has not been finalized when the application is due.
  • For each recording submitted, provide the title of the work, names of the composer and performer(s) and date of the performance.
  • For opera and ballet projects, the Fund strongly encourages, but does not require, video work samples of the company, any choreographer and the project’s director. Video samples should involve contemporary music.

Supporting Materials

  • A list of all performances and repertoire in the year for which support is being requested (the Support Year*), the current year, and the previous year. This should amount to three consecutive years of information. Works by American composers should be indicated. Please include timings of works. Please do not submit this list in the form of season brochures.
  • A list with award amounts of foundation, corporate, and government support for the Support Year*, the current year, and the previous year. This should amount to three consecutive years of support information. (Projections are acceptable for the support year and, to the extent necessary, the current year.)
  • A list of members of the Board of Directors (or equivalent) and their principal affiliations.
  • Budget for the Support Year* and financial statements (audited if available) for the current year (projections are acceptable) and the preceding year. This should amount to three consecutive years of financial information. Download recommended Excel budget template

*For the October 1st, 2023 deadline, the Support Year will be your 2024 summer festival or conference, which in many cases will coincide with your 2023 fiscal year. If your performance season and fiscal year do not coincide, please indicate this in the application. In any event, please submit financial information for the Support Year and the two years immediately preceding the Support Year.


Application Deadline

The deadline for applications for the 2023 Support for Summer Festivals and Conferences is 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on October 1st, 2023. Applicants will be notified of funding decisions in or about February, 2023. Please do not contact the Fund for information on funding decisions.

IMPORTANT: You are responsible for complying with all legal and contractual requirements that may apply to the creation of your materials. The Alice M. Ditson Fund hereby disclaims all legal responsibility in connection with your submissions. In case of questions, consult your legal advisor.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA") Policy


Prospective applicants are first encouraged to read the Frequently Asked Questions. If your question is not answered there, please contact the Fund Administrator prior to the time of application.

E-mail: grants@ditsonfund.org

Updated for the September 2023 round

See lists of grantees from previous rounds

General FAQs (applies to all programs)

Who is on your review panel?

The Ditson Advisory Committee makes all decisions.

Are universities and other educational institutions eligible for support?

Educational institutions may not apply directly, but they may serve as the fiscal sponsor for projects that involve professional musicians (including faculty). Projects including student ensembles are generally not eligible for support. Projects that primarily involve professional musicians are eligible even if some students also participate.

A university is serving as our fiscal sponsor, and they want us to include indirect costs in our budget. May we do so?

The Ditson Fund will not fund indirect costs on a project, so it is advised that you do not include them in the budget.

Are music education projects eligible for funding?

The Ditson Fund does not support music education programs.

What is the Ditson Fund’s definition of ‘younger and relatively unknown composers’?

The Fund only supports the work of living American composers of classical concert music with an emphasis on supporting important works of composers who are younger and at the beginning stage of their career as well as music by more mature composers who deserve wider recognition and support. During each meeting the Advisory Committee will determine who best deserves support among the current applicants.

Our proposal was not funded. Can you tell us why?

Programs are very competitive. Unfortunately, each year many worthy projects cannot be funded. You are welcome to contact the Grants Manager at ditson@columbia.edu for feedback about how your proposal could be improved in the future.

What is the Fund’s definition of ‘American’?

Composers with U.S. citizenship, as well as composers that have lived and worked in the U.S. for a significant period of time, are eligible. The Fund does not set rigid parameters but considers any questionable situations on a case-by-case basis. For the Fund’s purposes, “American” refers to the United States, its territories, and possessions.

Can our organization apply to more than one of the Fund's programs?

Applicants to the Recording Program may also apply to the Performing Ensembles, Institutions, Summer Festivals and Conferences Program, if the applicant satisfies the program eligibility requirements.

Generally, applicants to the April deadline of the Performing Ensembles, Institutions, Summer Festivals and Conferences Program may not apply to the November deadline, nor may applicants to the Recording Program apply to the April deadline, except in instances approved by the Fund in advance.

Our organization is located outside the U.S., but we are proposing a project featuring contemporary American music. May we apply?

Yes. The application will require an American fiscal sponsor with 501(c)3 status. Any awards will be paid to that fiscal sponsor. All financial figures in the proposal should be converted to U.S. dollars.

How should I account for in-kind contributions in my annual or project budgets?

Only the donation of goods that have a fair market value are allowable as a budgetary item, consistent with IRS regulations for filing Form 990.

If you wish to show the value of the donation of services, you may do so in a supplementary note to the budget, but only if the contributed services:

  1. create or enhance nonfinancial assets, or
  2. require specialized skills, are provided by individuals possessing those skills and would typically need to be purchased if not provided by donation.

In this case, indicate the full value of the donated services in the supplementary note. Within the budget itself, indicate the actual amount of money paid for the services. If the services were completely donated, the amount of the expense should be $0.

Donated services that do not meet either of the two criteria should not be represented anywhere in the budget.

Does the Fund support jazz, musical theater or popular music?

No, in general jazz is not supported. The Ditson Fund supports contemporary American classical concert music.