What is the Dance Artist Development Award (DADA)?

ARCOS offers the Dance Artist Development Award (DADA) in recognition of the critical need for support to enable independent artists working at the professional level to expand their creative horizons. The award is intended to give dance artists in Austin the opportunity to take a risk by exploring methods beyond their established practices in two ways. First, by offering financial and peer support to the awarded finalists and secondly, by providing a process by which all applicants can practice and improve the necessary skills to successful grant writing. Three finalists are selected to receive awards by a national panel of dance artists.

What do DADA recipients get?

The artist with the highest- and second-highest-scoring application will receive $800 and $400 to carry out their proposed development plans—for example, to participate in a workshop, class series, training, or another development opportunity that will broaden or propel their artistic practice. The third finalist will receive a full scholarship to one of ARCOS’ intensive workshops or a consultation session with ARCOS to find ways to realize their proposed development plan. Awardees are required to submit a final report upon completing the activities confirming that they used the funds as proposed.

What kind of activities does the DADA support?

The DADA program is designed to encourage the pursuit of ongoing training and lifelong learning for contemporary performing artists to cultivate sustainable, refined creative practices. Consider a direction you would like to take your personal practice and propose a step or two that the DADA could help launch you in those directions (which will not include presenting a public performance project, as that is the focus of other grants). Prior recipients have proposed to use the development funds to carry out educational, training, or development activities at the professional level to stretch the boundaries of their artistic practice into areas with which they are not already deeply familiar: exploring new movement modalities within and outside of our community, working with mentors to strengthen their self-producing capacity, and conducting leadership training in the arts as a method of social engagement and activism. General examples may include an ongoing class series, specialized workshops, interdisciplinary seminars for artists, private or group somatic training, or individualized mentoring or lessons in specialized techniques.

What kind of activities does the DADA not support?

Simply put, the DADA supports people, not projects. As mentioned above, the purpose of the DADA is to catalyze the kind of personal artistic growth that can happen in the rare instances when we give ourselves the time and space outside of the context and demands of regular creative projects. Proposed training or mentorship plans should be designed to benefit the applying artist in the longer term, though it may also serve a shorter-term, project-specific objective. The DADA microgrant funds cannot be used for any ARCOS educational or development programming. However, the third-highest scoring applicant will receive a full scholarship to one of ARCOS’ intensive workshops, or a personal consultation session with ARCOS to find ways to realize their proposed development plan.

Who is eligible? 

Applicants for the DADA must satisfy the following eligibility requirements:

  • Professional dance artist
  • Living in Austin (or its Extra Territorial Jurisdiction) for the duration of the award period
  • Not a full-time student
  • Have not been contracted by ARCOS as a performer or instructor in the last two years

What criteria should applicants meet?

Applicants should clearly articulate and demonstrate an established personal practice in dance performance and/or choreography and a vision to broaden their creative horizons through a detailed plan of training and development. Ideally, the proposed plan will also align with ARCOS’ mission to experiment rigorously to discover adventurous new forms of contemporary performance.

What is the selection process?

All applicants will be reviewed by a three-member panel of professional dance artists based outside of the Austin community. ARCOS assembles representatives from diverse artistic, educational, personal, and global backgrounds and at various stages of their careers to evaluate applicants’ submissions detailing past creative accomplishments, current practice, and the articulation of their development goals. Panelists do not have explicit ties to Austin’s dance community. ARCOS considers the application process a significant part of the development opportunity for applying artists, especially for those who have not applied for a grant before, so a summary of the panelists’ review comments is available to any applicant who indicates they wish to receive it after the awardees have been announced. Information about the 2020 panelists can be found here.

Is there a fee to apply?

There is no fee to apply for the DADA. However, for those interested in supporting the award fund and the program’s expansion, ARCOS accepts tax-deductible contributions, which can be made here.

How do I apply?

Fill out the online application when applications are open. It is recommended to write the responses in a separate document and paste them when completed into the online application fields for submission; writing directly in the browser may result in lost work.

What is the deadline?

The DADA program is currently on hiatus. Check back for more information.



This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division
of the City of Austin Economic Development Department.