The Arts

The arts are essential to strong, vibrant communities. A dynamic cultural sector is a catalyst for growth, attracting and retaining businesses and visitors. They strengthen neighborhoods and communities by preserving the culture and memories of specific places and have a positive impact on health and well-being. The arts provide spaces to allow people from different backgrounds to engage with one another and opportunities to build community. Perhaps most importantly, they offer personal enjoyment to individuals, groups, and families, and give voice to the human condition.

The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation focuses its arts grantmaking on efforts that strengthen arts organizations, encourage collaboration, and nurture artistic talent.

Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company at the American Dance Festival, photo by Grant Halverson

Preserve and Enrich the Triangle’s Cultural Life and Landscape

The Biddle Foundation remains committed to a strong and thriving cultural sector in Chatham, Durham, Orange, and Wake Counties in North Carolina. The arts contribute significant value to communities, fueling creativity, beautifying city and town spaces, and providing joy. Long-standing arts organizations in the Triangle have created a strong infrastructure through consistent excellent programming, while newer organizations are expanding opportunities and venues that appeal to new and diverse audiences.

MDBF supports cultural organizations that demonstrate artistic excellence and elevate the profile of the Triangle’s arts scenes, both locally and nationally. MDBF also supports new, emerging, or grassroots cultural organizations and initiatives that document, preserve, or present the values, spirit, and diversity of the Triangle’s cultural community. Grants are made to develop and sustain strong Triangle-area organizations.The maximum grant is $10,000.

Single-year grants in the following areas:
  • Capacity-building efforts designed to create or advance operational, programmatic, financial, and/or organizational stability, leading to increased sustainability and effectiveness, for projects including:
    • Audience development, such as sustained efforts to attract new and non-typical audiences or to expand the number of attendees
    • Leadership development, such as board and staff development and leadership succession planning
    • Marketing and communications, such as projects that are part of a comprehensive or strategic plan
    • Resource development, such as fundraising, earned income, or volunteer recruitment/retention
    • Specific efforts to enhance the organization’s mission or program delivery
    • Technology improvements, such as hardware, software, consulting, and other resources necessary to advance the organization’s mission that have been identified through a strategic or comprehensive plan
  • Innovative partnerships and collaborations by two or more arts organizations that promote the arts, address a community challenge, or address a need of or opportunity for both organizations for projects including:
    • Evaluation and assessment of programs
    • Future project planning
    • Joint performances, presentations, or visual arts programming
    • Joint training or learning opportunities
    • Resource development
  • Operating support grants to arts organizations committed to excellence, innovation, and sustainability. These grants are by invitation only, typically focusing on organizations with which the foundation has an established relationship.

Criteria

Characteristics of competitive applications include:
  • Projects have clearly identified goals, action plans, and evaluation measures.
  • The role of the organization’s board in the project, if applicable, is clearly defined.
  • Collaborative efforts identify why a collaborative approach is beneficial and have the full participation of all organizations. While one organization serves as the applicant, all organizations are actively involved in the project’s development and implementation.
  • Projects include racially, culturally, and economically diverse participants as appropriate to the program.
Institutional and project eligibility
  • Applicant must have a current 501c3 status; fiscal sponsorships are allowable.
  • The applying organization must be located in and project must take place in Chatham, Durham, Orange, or Wake Counties, North Carolina.
  • Organizations must have annual operating expenses under $5 million (fiscal sponsors are exempt from this stipulation).
  • Project budgets should not exceed $100,000.
  • Projects should be new or have been operating for fewer than 5 years.
  • Organizations may have only active grant at a time. A final narrative and financial report on the organization’s previous grant must be received by the foundation before a new LOI is submitted. If you have questions about your organization’s eligibility, please call the foundation before submitting an LOI.
  • Exhibition support is limited to distinctive projects that involve audiences not typically engaged in the art form, such as making arts accessible to those with limited vision or hearing, or whose subject matter addresses a compelling topic or issue.
  • Day-to-day technology needs (e.g., computers, printers, sound systems) are not eligible.
  • Requests for recurring festivals and season support are not eligible.

Develop and Nurture Artistic Talent

The vibrancy of the arts sector depends on artists who create, refine, or present new work. MDBF supports organizations in Chatham, Durham, Orange, and Wake Counties in North Carolina that work directly with artists or create new work. Grants focus on nurturing the current and next generations of artists, deepening and expanding talent, developing professional and business skills, and creating new works. The maximum grant is $10,000.

All creative disciplines—music, dance, theater, visual, and digital/photography/filmmaking—are eligible.

Single-year grants for projects such as:
  • Artist residencies operated by arts organizations
  • Career development services—including business/financial planning andleadership development—to help artists realize their visions and build sustainable practices
  • Innovative partnerships and collaborations by two or more arts organizations that support and promote artists
  • Re-granting programs to arts organizations to support individual artists at any stage of their careers to pursue projects that further their artistic development, including creating new works, developing promotional materials

Criteria

Characteristics of competitive applications include:
  • Organizations demonstrate a successful history of providing services and support to artists.
  • Projects have clearly identified goals, action plan, and evaluation measures.
  • Re-granting programs have clearly identified application and selection processes.
  • Projects include racially, culturally, and economically diverse participants as appropriate to the program.
Institutional and project eligibility
  • Grants are made to arts organizations for organizational projects.
  • Applicant must have a current 501c3 status; fiscal sponsorships are allowable.
  • The applying organization must be located in and project must take place in Chatham, Durham, Orange, or Wake Counties, North Carolina.
  • Organizations must have annual operating expenses under $5 million (fiscal sponsors are exempt from this stipulation).
  • Project budgets should not exceed $100,000.
  • Projects should be new or have been operating for fewer than 5 years.
  • Organizations may have only active grant at a time. A final narrative and financial report on the organization’s previous grant must be received by the foundation before a new LOI is submitted. If you have questions about your organization’s eligibility, please call the foundation before submitting an LOI.
  • Exhibition support is limited to distinctive projects that engage audiences or perspectives not typically represented, such as making arts accessible to those with limited vision or hearing, or whose subject matter addresses a compelling topic or issue.
  • Individual artists’ projects are not eligible for support. Fiscal sponsorships of individual projects are not accepted.
  • Requests for recurring festivals and season support are not eligible.