Home Programs Shakespeare in American Communities Guidelines: Schools

Guidelines: Schools

  1. Read the following guidelines.
  2. The was due on December 2, 2021. This is required and nonbinding. This intent includes both opportunities for Schools and Juvenile Justice grants.
  3. Prepare your application.
  4. Complete and submit the application form by Wednesday, February 2, 2022.

Arts Midwest invites proposals from professional theater companies across the nation to perform an in-person, socially-distanced, or virtual performance by professional actors of a play by Shakespeare; an adaptation of Shakespeare’s text; or a production that incorporates scenes, monologues, and/or sonnets of Shakespeare that is relevant to today, and conduct related educational activities for students that further explores and addresses Shakespeare’s work in modern context by partnering with five or more middle and/or high schools between August 1, 2022, and July 31, 2023.

Please contact Christy Dickinson at 612.238.8019 if you have questions.

Accessibility accommodations

Arts Midwest strives to provide accessibility services and accommodation solutions to ensure that people of all abilities are included. Arts Midwest staff is available to assist with adapting our typical processes to ensure that people with disabilities have equal opportunity to submit an application.

Please email Arts Midwest at [email protected] or leave a message at 612.238.8054 to connect about your needs.

Applicant eligibility requirements

  • Applicant must comply with federal eligibility requirements.
  • Applicant must be a 501©3 nonprofit, professional theater company. Organizations or presenting venues who produce are not eligible.
  • Applicant must have produced professional productions within the past five years.
  • Applicant must have a minimum of two years experience providing performances and related educational activities to middle and/or high schools.
  • Applicant must be a theater company located in the U.S. and the Native nations that share this geography that compensates all professional performers and related or supporting professional personnel at no less than the prevailing minimum compensation. (This requirement is in accordance with the regulations issued by the Secretary of Labor in part 505 of Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Part 505 does not provide information on specific compensation levels.)

Things to keep in mind

  • The program will accept a wider artistic vision of a production that gives students the opportunity to experience Shakespeare’s text.
  • The relevancy of the production to today and to students will be taken into consideration.
  • How the related educational activities relate to the play and further explores and addresses Shakespeare’s work in modern context will be taken into consideration.
  • Your company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion plans and actions should be addressed throughout the proposal.

Project requirements

To fulfill the goals of Shakespeare in American Communities, theater companies must:


  • Conduct programming between August 1, 2022 and July 31, 2023.

  • Perform an in-person, socially distanced, or virtual performance by professional actors of a play by Shakespeare; an adaptation of Shakespeare’s text; or a production that incorporates scenes, monologues, and/or sonnets of Shakespeare that is relevant to today. It is not required that the actors be part of an Equity contract. If the Shakespeare play is abridged (a shortened version), it must maintain the theme of the play. Examples of adaptations include the Play On! Shakespeare to an adaptation such as playwright Jocelyn Bioh’s The Merry Wives of Windsor. All productions should offer students the opportunity to experience Shakespeare’s text. The purpose of this program is to give students exposure to the play in performance.

    Performances may be held in the theater company’s facility, a school, a community venue, or virtually. Most students should experience the play in-person and be conducted in partnership with schools. A supplementary virtual (livestreamed or filmed) version may be offered to extend reach or minimize barriers of engagement.

  • Conduct related educational activities with students that further explore and address Shakespeare’s work in modern context.. Activities must be led by experienced teaching artists or actors with strong credentials and training. Activities must take place in conjunction with the production. Examples of these activities include workshops, in-depth pre- or post-performance discussions/talkbacks, seminars, and curriculum-based residencies.

    Hybrid activities (in-person and virtual) may be provided to schools with at least one activity, such as a pre- or post-performance talkback or in-classroom workshop, offered live and interactive with students. Some activities may be recorded and shared with schools. A study guide does not qualify as an activity.

  • Reach five or more middle or high schools with a performance and educational activity(ies). The majority of schools must educate underserved students who access to the performing arts is limited by ethnic background, economic conditions, disability, geographic location, or other barriers. This may include schools in rural or urban communities or federally-recognized tribal communities.

Selection Criteria

Applicants are reviewed by an independent advisory panel composed of theater peers and experts. Panel composition changes annually. The following selection criteria will be used in the panel’s assessment of the application. A theater company’s past participation in the program is not considered in this assessment.

Applicants will be selected based on:

  • The artistic excellence and merit of the production, including the evidence of sound artistic decisions, professional team of actors, artistic staff, viewpoint, and relevancy of the play to today and to students.
  • The quality of related educational activities for students, including how it explores and addresses Shakespeare’s work in modern context, the credentials and experience of teaching artists or actors, and plans to deepen or broaden activities from previous years (if applicable).
  • The feasibility to reach five or more middle and/or high schools, including evidence of the company’s minimum of two years experience providing performances and educational activities to middle and/or high school students, methods used to communicate to schools and partnering with teachers (such as teacher trainings and curriculum study guides), and the strategy to include schools with limited access.
  • The capacity and ability to carry out the project, including the company’s history; commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion on and off stage; qualifications of personnel; proven fiscal responsibility; and appropriate financial resources as evidenced in the budgets. The panel will also take into account the resilience plan and how your company can pivot the project due the unknown circumstances that may arise. The compensation of the professional actors/teaching artists at no less than the prevailing minimum wage.

Geographic diversity may be taken into consideration in the final selection of companies.

Flexibility due to COVID Response
It is understood that this proposal is what the company envisions to provide for schools and students during the related programming period. As the field and education moves forward through recovery, we understand that future considerations of the safety of actors, teaching artists, or students and the ability for schools to permit teaching artists/actors in the classroom or to take field trips could vary throughout the nation. If selected, any changes to the scope of project must be discussed and approved by Christy Dickinson at Arts Midwest to achieve the goals of the program.

Grant awards

The standard grant award of $25,000 will be awarded to up to 40 theater companies to support performances and related educational activities for students from five or more schools. These awards require nonfederal match of 1 to 1.

These funds derive from Federal funds from the National Endowment for the Arts (CFDA #45.024: Promotion of the Arts_Grants to Organizations and Individuals). A theater company may not receive a Shakespeare in American Communities grant award and a direct grant from the National Endowment for the Arts or another Federal agency for the same project during the same or an overlapping period of support. A company may receive this grant award and the Shakespeare in American Communities: Juvenile Justice award.

If selected, the theater company will enter into a grant agreement with Arts Midwest. The agreement will outline the terms and conditions, including Federal regulations and project and crediting requirements of the Shakespeare in American Communities grant award.

Review process

All applications received by the deadline will be reviewed by Arts Midwest staff for completeness. The staff will contact you if there are any questions. Following the staff’s review, an email will be sent acknowledging receipt of your application and provide a PDF to review prior to being sent to the advisory panel.