Grantees Will Travel to Six Continents
and Perform in 18 Countries

Baltimore, MD – November 19, 2019 – Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation (MAAF) has announced over $183,000 in grant support to 20 ensembles and solo performers who will represent the United States at 24 different festivals around the globe through the first round of USArtists International (USAI) 2020.

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 theater, resulting in the promotion of international cultural exchange and the creative and professional development of U.S. artists. The program extends the reach and impact of professional artists dependent on touring for continued sustainability and career advancement. Since its inception in 2006, USAI has awarded over $7.27 million through 957 grants to 570 ensembles and solo performers.

The next deadline of the 2020 cycle is November 22, 2019 for projects taking place between March 15, 2020 and March 14, 2021. The online application can be accessed here

USAI is a program of Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation in partnership with The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Trust for Mutual Understanding, and the Howard Gilman Foundation for support of New York City-based organizations.

Supported engagements promote the vibrant diversity of American artists, expand opportunity and exposure to international audiences, and enhance creative and professional development of U.S. artists by providing connections with presenters, curators, and artists around the world. The Deborah Abel Dance Company of Carlisle, MA, received USAI 2019 funding to perform at the 39th International Contemporary Dance Festival Lila Lopez in Mexico. Of the experience, they said “With this tour we reached a new audience. Performing in two locations in Mexico, and giving 3 master classes at three different locations, we found a great resonance between our Bhakti Modern style and Mexican culture, and this has led us to apply to other festivals in Mexico and in Latin America. We have applied to one and have others in sight. We made a wonderful connection with an artists residency (Tlacopac) in Mexico City, and half the company stayed there, giving a masterclass and guest presenting at a composers workshop. With the help of the Director of the artist residency, we were introduced to the manager of Teatro San Benito Abad before we arrived in Mexico, and as a result we had a second performance in Mexico City. We’ve been in touch with the artist residency since our return, and believe that will continue to be a productive connection. So, many seeds have been planted.”

USAI grantees will travel to six continents and perform in 18 countries. Grantees represent nine states and include a mix of emerging and established companies and soloists that showcase a diversity of styles within their artistic disciplines. Fourteen of the 20 grantees are new to the USAI program.The USAI 2020 first round grantees are:

  • Ananya Dance Theatre, MN: Bethlehem International Performing Arts Festival, Palestinian Territories
  • Axis Dance Company, CA: The Migros Culture Percentage Dance Festival Steps, Switzerland
  • Catalyst Quartet, NY: Contemporary Music Festival of Havana, Cuba
  • CornMaiz, KY: Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival, Ireland
  • David Gonzalez Ensemble, NY: Hakawy International Arts Festival for Children, Egypt
  • Exhale Dance Tribe, OH: New Zealand Festival, New Zealand
  • fidget, PA: Antistatic Festival, Bulgaria
  • Gloria Cheng, CA: ASEAN Music Festival, China and Beijing Modern Music Festival, China
  • Kinetic Light, CA: Hong Kong Arts Festival: No Limits, China
  • Leonardo Sandoval & Gregory Richardson, NY: Tap in Rio, Brazil
  • Manual Cinema, IL: Santiago a Mil International Festival, Chile
  • MASAUKO, CA: Bassline Fest (Igoda Circuit), South Africa; Bushfire (Igoda Festival Circuit), Swaziland; and Zafiko Festival (Igoda Festival Circuit), South Africa
  • Meridionalis, NY: International Sacred Music Festival, Ecuador
  • Netta Yerushalmy, NY: Tel Aviv Dance, Israel
  • Roomful of Teeth, MA: Adelaide Festival, Australia and New Zealand Festival, New Zealand
  • So Percussion, NY: Cité de la Musique – Philharmonie de Pars’s Steve Reich Festival, France
  • Spektral Quartet, IL: Reykjavik Arts Festival, Iceland
  • Target Margin Theater, NY: Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA), Zimbabwe
  • The Bearded Ladies Cabaret, PA: CubaDupa, New Zealand and Performance Arcade, New Zealand
  • The Young Mothers, TX: Matik-Matik Festival, Colombia

MAAF convened a panel via video conference on October 17, 2019 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.

In July 2018, MAAF completed a comprehensive evaluation of the USAI program from its inception in 2006 through 2017. Results of that report can be found here.

Photo: Aaron Nigel Smith of Oregon performs at Rototom Sunsplash in Spain in August 2019 with support from USAI. Credit: @carlonitro.

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 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.

About the Trust for Mutual Understanding
The Trust for Mutual Understanding awards grants to American nonprofit organizations to support direct exchange in the arts and the environment between professionals from the United States and TMU’s geographic region: the Baltic States; Central Asia; Central, East, Southeast Europe; Mongolia; and Russia.

Karen Newell
Director, External Affairs
Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation