Liberty ellman stands to the left in a black button up long sleeve shirt holding a guitar. Background is pixelated blue and black.

Program has Provided Over $5 Million in Funding

Baltimore, MD – November 30, 2017
– Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation (MAAF) has announced grants totaling $162,480 to one theater, six dance, and nine music ensembles from across the United States to support their engagements at 16 festivals in 12 countries around the globe through the first of three grant rounds of the 2018 USArtists International (USAI) program.

USAI is a program of Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation with support from The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for support of artists from the Chicago area, and the Howard Gilman Foundation for support of New York City-based organizations.

USAI is the only national initiative in the United States solely devoted to supporting performances by American artists at important international cultural festivals and arts marketplaces abroad. USAI provides grants to ensembles and individual performers in dance, music, and theatre, resulting in the promotion of international cultural exchange and the creative and professional development of U.S. artists. In total, the program has awarded over $5.05 million through 711 grants to 462 ensembles and solo performers since its inception in 2006.

Supported engagements often lead to new opportunities as well as providing artists with important feedback on their work. Philadelphia choreographer Jaamil Olawale Kosoko received a 2017 USAI grant to perform at the pOnderosa TanzLand Festival in Germany. In his final report, he stated that “This performance opportunity allowed me to present my work in front of an international community of artists, curators, scholars, and artistic directors. As a result, I have begun communication with presenters in Germany, Ireland, and Duke University. It was also very important for me to understand how my work translates to an audience outside the immediate context that the work was created. I received very strong feedback and was able to meet with Virve Sutinen Artistic Director of TiA to begin planning for a possible presentation in 2018.”

According to the Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account, a project of the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. arts and cultural exports have expanded in recent years, yielding a $24 billion trade surplus in 2013. Of that $24 billion, performing arts and works by independent artists generated $1.7 billion. Activities such as those supported by USAI have not only creative and cultural exchange benefits, but an economic impact as well.

The latest round of USAI grantees are a mix of emerging and established companies that showcase a diversity of styles within their artistic disciplines:

  • Alarm Will Sound, NY: Beijing Modern Music Festival and China-ASEAN Music Festival, China
  • Aruán Ortiz, NY: Jazz Plaza International Festival, Cuba
  • Big Dance Theater, NY: Dance Umbrella, United Kingdom
  • Cut Circle, CA: AMUZ, Netherlands
  • Darren Johnston’s Reasons for Moving featuring Fred Frith and Larry Ochs, CA: Festival Jazzdor, France
  • Degenerate Art Ensemble, WA: One Foundation for Arts & Culture’s Spotlight USA Festival, Bulgaria
  • Elevator Repair Service, NY: New Zealand Festival, New Zealand
  • Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre, CA: Port of Ideas Festival, Chile
  • line upon line percussion, TX: Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music, Australia
  • Martha Graham Dance Company, NY: The Holland Dance Festival, Netherlands
  • Nicole Mitchell’s Black Earth Ensemble, CA: Edition Festival, Sweden
  • PEARSONWIDRIG DANCETHEATER, MD: International Dance Festival José Limón, Mexico
  • Qasim Naqvi, NY: The Rest is Noise Festival, Netherlands
  • Ragamala Dance Company, MN: Just Festival, United Kingdom
  • Somi, NY: Sauti Za Busara Festival, Tanzania
  • Ted Nash Trio, NY: Jazz Plaza International Festival, Cuba

MAAF convened a panel via teleconference on October 23, 2017 to review applications in dance, music and theater. The panel consisted of experienced artists and arts professionals as well as lay-panelists. For a complete list of panelists, please click here.

The next deadline for USAI applicants is December 1, 2017 for projects taking place between March 15, 2018 and March 14, 2019. The third and final round of the 2018 USAI cycle is April 5, 2018 for projects taking place between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019. Information about the USAI program, guidelines, current grantees, and the online application can be accessed here.

Photo: Jazz guitarist Liberty Ellman received a 2017 USArtists International grant for engagements at the North Sea Jazz Festival in The Netherlands and Along Came Jazz Festival in Italy. Photo Credit: Alan Nahigian.

About Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation
Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation develops partnerships and programs that reinforce artists’ capacity to create and present work and advance access to and participation in the arts. The Foundation was created in 1979 and is a private non-profit organization that is closely allied with the region’s state arts councils and the National Endowment for the Arts. It combines funding from state and federal resources with private support from corporations, foundations, and individuals to address needs in the arts from a regional, national, and international perspective. To learn more about MAAF, its programs and services, visit our website at

About the National Endowment for the Arts
The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $5 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector.

About the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Founded in 1969, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies by supporting exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work. Additional information is available at

About the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people, effective institutions, and influential networks building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. The Foundation is the largest private funder of arts and culture in Illinois, awarding more than $9 million in grants annually to more than 300 Chicago arts groups, mostly in general operating support, as part of its overall Chicago Commitment. Learn more at

About the Howard Gilman Foundation
Howard Gilman believed in the power of the arts to transform lives. The Howard Gilman Foundation honors his legacy by supporting the most robust, innovative, and promising performing arts organizations in New York City.