High school bands are impressive, theatrical pageantry. They're also expensive to maintain. Instrumentation of a high school band can easily run into six figures or higher. Travel expenses to national festivals and parades can also become expensive. High school band directors and students actively look for grants to make musicianship a challenge and not a chore.
National Endowment For The Arts
The National Endowment for the Arts is an independent agency of the federal government. It was founded in the 1960s to support the arts through grants. Two grants in particular may help to support band programs. Schools with bands in high poverty areas may want to apply for the Challenge America Fast-Track Grant, which gives grantees up to $10,000 with a required $10,000 match. These grants are used to bring the arts to underserved populations, and may be used for a variety of band equipment and expenses. Another grant that could be used for a band is an Our Town Grant, which gives grantees up to $200,000 for projects that bring art to communities.
State Arts Agencies
State arts agencies are charged with advocating for and sustaining the arts and culture within a particular state. Part of the job of a state arts agency is to promote both in-school and extracurricular arts activities for youth, especially underserved populations. Many state arts agencies have grants for travel and festival expenses for bands, and also offer grants for individual artists. State arts agencies may also be able to provide band directors with information about other sources of funding for bands.
Local Government Agencies
Many local agencies, such as cities or counties, have grants for groups or individuals in the arts. For example, the New York Foundation for the Arts awards $7,000 grants annually in variable artistic disciplines to individual artists or groups residing in New York City. The disciplines change annually, so interested artists need to check if their category is included before applying. The Brooklyn Arts Council has smaller grants for individual artists or groups living in Kings County in New York, and they specify that the grant must be used for a public interest project, such as a concert, which makes this grant ideal for a band.
Regional Arts Organizations
Six regional arts organizations exist in the United States. Their job is to provide support for arts for the states that lie within the region, with special emphasis on the performing arts. Each regional arts organization has funding for grants for individual artists and groups for travel and performance. Some programs specify that the money must be used for underserved populations, some do not. Band leaders will need to contact their regional arts organizations for more information.
Lori Garrett-Hatfield has a B.J. in Journalism from the University of Missouri. She has a Ph.D. in Adult Education from the University of Georgia. She has been working in the Education field since 1994, and has taught every grade level in the K-12 system, specializing in English education, and English as a Second Language education.