The Guilford Performing Arts Festival Artists’ Awards were created to support the development of new work by Connecticut performing artists and to provide a vehicle for premiering new work at the festival. They are artistic/creativity awards, not income-relief grants, and you do not need to show that you have lost income because of the coronavirus in order to qualify.

GPAF will grant six Artists’ Awards in 2020 to Connecticut performing artists who use the award to create or complete new work and premiere that work at the 2021 Guilford Performing Arts Festival. Awards will be given in dance, drama, music and spoken word. All genres of those art forms are eligible.

Applications will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. on July 31, 2020. No late entries will be considered. Recipients will be announced by September 15, 2020.

Each award comes with a grant of $2,500, which will be paid in two installments of $1,250. The first payment will be made upon the artist’s selection as a recipient, the remainder upon confirmation that the work has been completed.

Award recipients will receive a prime performance slot in the 2021 festival, rehearsal time on an assigned stage, and the services of volunteers and appropriate technicians for load-in, setup and strike, lighting and sound, etc.



All professional performing artists who are Connecticut residents are eligible. Members of the Guilford Performing Arts festival board of directors and committees, as well as members of their families, are not eligible. It is the intention of the festival that its judges will have no personal or professional association with applicants, and any judge that has such an association with an applicant will be required to recuse him- or herself from voting on that application. Previous Artists’ Award winners are not eligible.

Work created with support of the award must be premiered at the 2021 Guilford Performing Arts Festival, scheduled for September 23-26, 2021. Material that has previously been recorded, performed, etc., by the applicant or other artist is not eligible, nor is reinterpretation of material in the public domain. Should the artist premiere the work before the festival, the award will be withdrawn and the artist will be required to reimburse all money paid for the award. Should the artist fail to complete the work on time or fail to debut it at the 2021 festival for reasons under the artist’s control, GPAF has the right to withhold the final payment and seek reimbursement of all money paid to date.

Artists will be required to provide a detailed project scope, budget and timeline, which will be part of the evaluation criteria. Award proceeds may be used for travel, research, writing, composing and rehearsing their work, but not for education. Selection of winners will be made by festival programmers and independent judges. The judges’ decisions are final.

GPAF will report award payments to the Internal Revenue Service and will provide artists with a form 1099 for tax reporting purposes.


Selection Criteria

Applications will be evaluated on artistic merit, originality, innovation, cultural and social relevance, fit with the festival’s diversity mission, and the ability of the work to be performed with quality during the festival. Because of a limited number of performance spaces, the festival cannot accommodate large, complex staging. Each work will be performed once during the festival. See specific criteria by genre below.

Dance: All genres of dance and movement, including those incorporating multimedia elements, are eligible. Performances must be a maximum of 60 minutes in length. Because of staging limitations, we encourage applicants to limit the number of dancers required for performance to four—unless the work can be performed outdoors on grass, pavement, sand or in water. Please note that we will not be able to consider works with complex staging or technical elements whose setup and takedown would require more than a total of one hour’s time.

Drama: All genres of theatrical performance, including traditional and experimental, multimedia and spoken word, are eligible. Because of venue limitations, we will not be able to consider dramatic works whose performance requires a large number of performers or complex technical staging in which setup and takedown would require more than a total of one hour’s time. We encourage applicants to limit performers to fewer than four—unless the work can be performed outdoors on grass, pavement, sand or in water. All performances must be between 45 minutes and one hour in length. The artist will be responsible for all performer, costume and staging costs.

Music: All genres of music and musical theatre are eligible. Performances must be a maximum of 60 minutes in length. The festival will provide an appropriate venue and sound system. For musical theatre, see the staging and performer limitations for Drama above.

Spoken Word: All genres are eligible, including poetry, storytelling, rap, hip-hop, stand-up comedy and other forms of spoken performance. Performances must be a maximum of 60 minutes in length. Because this is a performing arts and not a literary festival, emphasis will be on the performance and audience-engagement aspects of the work.



The judges for the awards will be members of the Guilford Performing Arts Festival’s board of directors and programming committee, along with independent, outside judges knowledgeable in their respective performing arts genres. Following is a current list of judges by genre. This list could change by the time judging takes place. We will make a good-faith effort to post an amended list if there are changes.

Dance: Katie Contessa, Joyce DiLauro*, Patrick John O’Neill*, Todd Russell*, Sheila Whitman

Drama: Carly Callahan, Susan Cinoman*, Barbara Hentschel, Keely Baisden Knudsen, Richard Parent*

Music: Noah Baerman*, William Boughton, Christine Cohen, Sandy Connolly*, Thomas Duffy*, Ted Ervin*, Peter Hawes, Sandy Stoddard

Spoken Word: Paul Listro*, Rob McCoole*, Jen Payne*, Meg Smith*


Have questions? Send them to Peter Hawes, head of the festival’s programming committee.