Guidelines + Review Criteria

Program Overview

TourWest is a competitive grant program funded by the National Endowment for the Arts (the Arts Endowment). The program provides subsidies to presenters for the presentation of touring performing and literary artists. A one-time exception will be available for the 2021-2022 cycle to applicants experiencing difficulties booking out-of-state artists due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
Applicants are eligible to apply for the presentation of in-state touring artists traveling at least 50 miles to your venue. Artists located closer than 50 miles to your venue will not be considered touring artists and therefore will not be eligible for this grant.

Performances and educational outreach activities can take place in person if COVID-19 state restrictions are lifted to permit social gatherings. TourWest values the safety of our presenters and performers and encourages all applicants to review their state guidelines before applying and keep informed if awarded a TourWest grant. Out-of-state artistic performances and educational outreach activities are also eligible to take place in a virtual setting.   

TourWest standard performance grants are available in amounts of up to $2,500 or 50% of your overall project expenses, whichever is less. We encourage organizations to use grants to support artistic fees. The grants are only available to organizations that sponsor performances within the 13-state WESTAF region. All TourWest grants must be matched on a one-to-one basis in cash by the presenting organization.

TourWest projects must take place between September 1, 2021 and August 31, 2022, and must feature one public performance and one educational outreach activity. Applicants may apply for up to two standard performance grants, for two distinct projects. Funding support through TourWest is contingent on available funds from the Arts Endowment.
All application materials, including supplemental materials and work samples, must be submitted online. Mailed or emailed applications will not be accepted.

Applying organizations must:
  • Have one of the following designations: a) a tax exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization; b) a unit of state or local government; c) a nonprofit institution of higher education; or d) a federally recognized Indian tribal government.
    • The organization must have and provide a valid EIN.
  • Be incorporated in and currently conducting business in one or more of the following states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai‘i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, or Wyoming.
  • Have successfully presented one performance by a paid professional performing artist or company within the last three years.
  • Be in good standing with WESTAF, with no overdue or delinquent reports and/or documentation.
  • Have a DUNS Number. This number is a unique nine-digit identification number of the entity applying for funds. DUNS numbers are available free of charge for all businesses required to register with the U.S. federal government for grants.  
WESTAF, manager of the TourWest program, reserves the right to make final decisions regarding eligibility. Questions regarding eligibility should be directed to the TourWest staff, at

Ineligible Projects
The following projects are not eligible for TourWest funding:
  • Performances that receive federal funding such as funding from the National Endowment for the Arts (the Arts Endowment) or National Endowment for the Arts funds that flow through programs such as Southern Exposure Roster Artists and NEFA-supported projects in dance and theater.
  • Traditional, seasonal performances such as The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol.
  • University conferences.
  • Magic, stand-up/improv comedy, and acrobatic performances.
  • Guest artist performances such as a guest conductor for a local symphony performance or a guest choreographer who sets a piece on local dancers.
  • Performances, including children's theater, in which local children or community members are the primary performers.
  • Salaries or contracts for general fundraising activities or events, including those for donors or those that benefit the organization as a whole, are unallowable. Costs associated with fundraising activities such as galas, parties, or other events where alcohol is available are not allowed.
Program Requirements
TourWest 2021- 2022 support is available to projects that meet the following programmatic requirements:
  • Projects must take place between September 1, 2021 and August 31, 2022.
  • Applicants may submit up to two TourWest applications for up to two distinct projects featuring two different artists.
  • The proposed project must involve a paid professional performing artist/company that is based outside of the presenter's home state. A one-time exception will be offered for the 2020-2021 grant cycle. Proposed in-state, paid professional performing artist/company will be considered eligible touring artists if they travel at least 50 miles.
  • Virtual performances and educational outreach will qualify for this funding cycle. Virtual performances must be available to the public and educational outreach opportunities must be interactive.
  • The proposed artist or company cannot include members of the applicant organization’s staff members or board or be a faculty member of the applicant's organization.
  • Applicants are encouraged to apply for the presentation of out-of-state touring performers, musicians, and literary artists. Applicants are also encouraged to feature performers from the western United States; however, the performers do not have to be from the 13-state WESTAF region and can be internationally based.
  • Literary projects are acceptable, provided they incorporate a performance element.
    • Projects must include at least one public performance. 
  • Defined as a full-length performance that is marketed and open to the general public.
    • Applicants who apply with artists based out-of-state are eligible for virtual performances
  • Projects must include at least one educational outreach activity.  
    • That activity must have an educational component and attract an audience that is different from the audience attending the public performance. Click here for more detailed information about educational outreach activities.
  • Each application must include two digital samples of the work of the proposed artist(s). Failure to provide a sample of artistic work will result in the disqualification of an application. Each block booked presenter must provide their own work sample for their individual application.
  • If the touring artist is part of a company, the full troupe must perform on stage during the public performance.
  • Projects that involve school children participating as artists in a portion of the performance are eligible; however, applicants must make clear that the primary focus of the public performance is the touring, featured performer.
  • TourWest funds can be used to support performances in festivals. The festival organization itself, not individual presenters participating in the festival, may apply for up to two grants to support artists performing in the festival.
  • At the time of application, an artistic contract or letter of agreement must be submitted. If approved for funding, the grant award will not become official until the grantee sends the fully executed, co-signed contract between the grantee and the artist(s) no later than three weeks prior to the performance.
  • TourWest funds are federal funds and require a one-to-one cash match. As the grant award will support a portion of the project expenses, the remaining project expense amount is to be paid by the grantee and is considered the cash match for the grant.
    • Grantees cannot match Arts Endowment funds to other Arts Endowment grants funds or other federal funds, nor get two different federal grants for the same project costs (overlapping costs). 
    • Grantees cannot match resources with another Arts Endowment award or other federal program.
    • Certain contributions or gifts provided to your organization are restricted and cannot be used to support the project.
    • Gifts (bequeathed or otherwise) that are not available to your organization during the award period of performance cannot be used to match the Arts Endowment award.
  • TourWest funds cannot be used in any portion for institutional overhead or F&A costs or applied to any indirect costs. These funds, which are made possible through the National Endowment for the Arts regional touring program, are to be specifically directed to the project expenses for both the public performance(s) and the accompanying outreach activities. We encourage organizations to use grants to support artistic fees.

Supplemental Materials and Work Samples
TourWest requires that applicants submit work samples electronically as digital files uploaded to the application. Failure to provide a sample of artistic work will result in the disqualification of your application. Please note: All work samples must be submitted as a digital file uploaded to the GOSmart™ system ( WESTAF will not accept mailed or emailed work samples or links.

Required Supplemental Materials
  • A PDF or DOC of the contract or co-signed letter of agreement with the company.
    • The documentation must include: company fee(s), engagement date(s), the location(s) and description(s) of performance(s), and a description of all educational outreach activities planned. 
    • If an agreement or contract is not available at the time of the application deadline, a letter of intent from the artist or artist's management will suffice. Please note that through the TourWest program, artistic fees are paid to the presenter, who is then responsible for paying the artist/company or designated representative.
  • A PDF or DOC of proof of nonprofit, tax exempt 501(c)(3) status, or the equivalent, from the applicant's organization.
Work Samples
  • Two work samples are required for each application. The samples are not to exceed 60 seconds in length.
  • When work samples exceed 60 seconds in length, panelists will be instructed to review only the first 60 seconds.  
    • When possible, work samples should be edited to a length of 60 seconds.
    • Work samples should begin with the actual work sample and without excessive lead-ins.
  • Each TourWest application must be accompanied by corresponding work samples.The TourWest program does not permit applicants to submit artistic work samples on behalf of other presenters (i.e. for artists who are block booked). 
  • Samples should show the work that will be performed for the applicant's project. Video representations of an artist's work should be a performance sample and not a promotional video.
  • For literary presentations:
    • Applicants are required to submit an audio or video sample of the writer reading/presenting their work as a work sample.  
    • A PDF or DOC of biographical information on the writer/playwright/poet is required.
Review Criteria
Completed applications are reviewed by a panel of touring and presenting professionals. Each application is reviewed and rated in accordance with the review criteria. Preferential consideration will be given to applications that most effectively address the following criteria:
  • Artistic and cultural merit
    • How your organization celebrates diverse cultural practice, fulfills its mission, and supports arts and artists. This includes your concern for the health and wellbeing of all involved in this project during COVID-19. Application narrative, digital work samples, and additional publicity materials from the artist/company should help panelists determine the quality of the artist/company. The relevance and potential impact of the artist/company in relation to your community will also be considered. See above for excluded performance categories. 
  • Presentation of programs to underserved and/or culturally diverse audiences
    • Through TourWest, WESTAF and the Arts Endowment aim to encourage the presentation of performing arts programming to culturally diverse audiences and those that do not typically enjoy ready access to the performing arts. In order to understand local needs and interests, WESTAF advocates working directly with individuals and groups from the communities that your organization seeks to serve. Community engagement and participation will be key components of a successful TourWest grant application.
  • Quality of the outreach activities
    • Each project must include at least one community outreach activity.
    • Outreach activities are a key element in a funded project's design.
    • Applications that address the rationale for the outreach activity and describe the community partnerships in place to successfully execute the outreach activity will be given a distinct advantage.
  • Engagement and collaboration 
    • TourWest seeks to support the engagement of new audiences as well as collaboration between the presenters, artists, agents, and communities. In addition to working collaboratively with the artist(s) and/or community partners in planning the project, WESTAF encourages presenters to take advantage of opportunities such as block booking, presenter networks and booking conferences to reduce costs and make artistic opportunities available to a broader audience. Partnerships and collaborative efforts between presenters are considered in the panel's evaluation of an application and project.
  • Thoroughness of the project's planning
    • The project's overall planning, marketing strategy, evaluation process, and proposed impact on the presenting organization's future seasons will be evaluated by a panel of qualified individuals from the field.
TourWest is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. Compliance to federal legislations and Uniform Administrative Requirements (2 CFR Part 200) apply to all recipients of a TourWest grant award.