Grant Application FAQ

One Way Street
by Sandglass Theatre

Photo courtesy of Sandglass Theatre

Can I submit an application in September if I did not submit a letter of intent in April?
No - we cannot accept any new applicants after the letter of intent deadline has passed because applicants are invited to the next stage of consideration based on the letters of intent. 

What is a fiscal sponsor, and do I need one?
A fiscal sponsor is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization that will receive and administer your funds on your behalf should you receive a grant. 501(c)(3) status is the federal tax determination given to non-profit charitable organizations. Because funds can only be awarded to non-profit organizations, you must apply using a fiscal sponsor if your company does not have non-profit status. 

How do I find a fiscal sponsor?
One way to find a fiscal sponsor is through your current affiliations, such as theaters, libraries, community organizations, or professional societies that are familiar with your work. In addition, the New York Foundation for the Arts offers a fiscal sponsorship program and provides a list of other organizations with fiscal sponsorship programs across the country. The Foundation Center also has information on finding a fiscal sponsor, along with examples of policies, procedures, and guidelines for fiscal sponsorship agreements.

Do I need a commitment from a fiscal sponsor prior to submitting my letter of intent?
You do not need a fiscal sponsor in order to submit a letter of intent. If you are invited to submit a full proposal, you must have a commitment from a fiscal sponsor when the complete application is due.

Can my organization serve as a fiscal sponsor for an artist if we are applying for a grant ourselves?
Yes. Serving as a fiscal sponsor for another artist will not affect our consideration of your own application in any way.

Can my organization serve as the fiscal sponsor for multiple applicants?
Yes. You can serve as a fiscal sponsor for as many artists as you like. It will not affect our consideration of the artist's applications or your own application, if you are submitting one yourself.

Should I include a description of my company in my letter of intent?
While we are primarily interested in gaining a clear understanding of the content and execution of the proposed project, it is helpful to include some background information on your company in the letter of intent, particularly if you have not applied for a grant from the Jim Henson Foundation in the past. 

What sort of visuals and/or video should I submit with my full application if my piece is in an early stage of development?
Puppetry is a visual art form.  Images of the proposed production are essential to your application, even if they are sketches or early prototypes.  We do not fund work that is in such an early stage that there are no images.

I am submitting a full application: How do I include video of the piece if it's not completed?
We understand that no piece will be finished in the application process, since we do not fund work that is already completed. The reviewing board needs to be able to see visually where you are at in your process. Please take these 4 minutes to showcase what you do have. We need to see the style of puppets in which you are working.  If you are applying for a Workshop Grant, a minimum of 2 minutes of your video must pertain to the piece for which you are applying. The remaining time may be used to show work that relates in some way to the application project, whether it be aesthetic, performance style, or otherwise. We do not fund work that is in such an early stage of development that there is no video.  The video must emphasize the puppetry in the piece.

Do I need to specify whether I am applying for a Workshop Grant, Production Grant or Family Grant?
Please specify in your letter of intent the grant for which you are applying. If you are applying for further support of a piece that already has received a Workshop Grant, the piece only is eligible for a Production Grant. 

Will the foundation consider a proposal for a project that is not strictly puppet theater if it incorporates elements of puppetry?
We are happy to consider proposals for work that crosses or combines artistic genres as long as puppetry is integral to the entire piece. We receive far more proposals each year than we are able to fund, so we must focus on those projects that most closely fulfill our mission to develop new works of puppet theater. The sophistication of the design and the skill of the manipulation are just as important as the degree to which puppetry is utilized in the piece. For example, if your work is an hour long and features only ten minutes of puppetry, or if the puppets are used as props or manipulated by actors with no training in the art form, then we do not suggest applying for a grant from The Jim Henson Foundation. 

Where can I find information on other potential funding sources for my project?
The Foundation Center is an excellent resource for fundraising research, particularly the Learning Lab and Finding Funders sections. We also recommend NYFA Source, a national database of awards, services, and publications for artists of all disciplines provided by the New York Foundation for the Arts.

Why did you change the name of the grants to one year later?
We feel that naming the grants by the year they are awarded makes the shows sound old before they have even been created. The shows are usually mounted the year after they are awarded, so we want to keep the sense of excitement about the new works by titling the grant as the year in which they should be produced. 

I just got a great idea for a show, can I apply for a Workshop grant?
Not Yet! You need to work through the idea of the show until you know what you want to create and what your timeline is. You need to have visual images and video. You need to have a clear idea of what you want the show to be and be able to express it.

If I receive a Workshop grant, can I apply for a Family grant the following year for the same show?
No. A Workshop grant recipient can return the following year and apply for a Production grant for the same show, but cannot apply for a Family grant. We expect shows that receive Family grants to be presented the year the grant is awarded.

Are there types of theater that the Foundation typically does not fund?
Because our primary mission is to support puppetry, we look for excellence in the performing of the puppet. A puppet is an object that is performed with the human hand to give the appearance of life, character, and emotion - usually within a narrative. We do not fund pageants, parades, cantastoria, crankie, or purely digital performance. Because Jim Henson created the Foundation to support artists performing their own unique style of puppetry, we generally do not support "muppet-style" puppetry. We look for innovation in the creation of tangible character driven puppet theater.