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Jazz Road Tours

Posted by South Arts ; Posted on 
Jazz Road Tours




Jazz Road Tours is designed to increase jazz artists’ abilities to book and promote their own tours while being adequately compensated. In addition, Jazz Road Tours intend to connect jazz artists with new listeners in new places. Artists will receive support for tours that represent new opportunities for the applicant, with an emphasis on including areas/communities with limited recent exposure to live jazz performance.

Jazz Road Tours will support approximately 50 tours annually to artists with grants of up to $15,000, most of which must be matched by the collective tour presenters.

Artists may submit applications for small (three-to-six site) tours comprised of an array of venue types that collectively will allow the grantee to develop new audiences while bringing jazz to new communities. Jazz Road Tours will support artists who supplement traditional jazz engagements with dates and activities through alternative spaces and ways of programming the music. Tours including non-traditional jazz venues along with anchor presenters whose jazz presenting history and commitment will provide greater stability and higher visibility for the touring artist/ensemble, will be considered most competitive. Jazz Road also will prioritize applications that include venues that are based in rural areas or reach typically underserved communities.

Applicants may already have communities and venues in mind to which they want to tour. Some may not, or won’t be familiar with enough presenters in a region to build a full tour. Applicants are encouraged to contact the RAO serving the artist’s home state in advance to learn more about statewide or regional presenters when developing tours, as necessary. Each RAO can assist artists who inquire about potential venues as they develop their tour(s), be they established jazz presenters or newer to the artform. Please view the About section to determine which states are served by each RAO.

Jazz Road advisors and panelists will recognize the complete history and aesthetic range of excellence within jazz music, and will not attempt to define jazz in these guidelines.

Grant Support

Jazz Road Tour grants will range from $5,000 – $15,000 and will cover a portion of the total eligible tour expenses. Grant funds awarded to artists will support two types of expenses. First, expenses directly related to the jazz tour including artist fees, travel, housing, and meals, to a maximum of $12,500, which require a 1:1 match by the collective tour presenters. Second, additional support may be requested by the artist specifically for administrative costs related to tour coordination and promotion, up to a maximum of $2,500, which does not require matching presenter funds.

Anchor presenters (traditional venues which consistently program jazz) within the tour are expected to pay artist fees directly and, generally, work with the artist to identify other tour sites in their area. All presenters must pay artists, or artists must receive in-kind contributions toward eligible project expenses as defined in the Eligibility section. Artists will work with presenters to establish equitable artist fees and will determine how the grant amount is applied to the tour budget, as evidenced in the application. It is not likely that Jazz Road funds can accommodate cross-country touring, but will support smaller tour travel expenses, including airfare across states and regions.

Applicant Eligibility

Only individual artists (as an individual, an artist-led nonprofit organization, or an artist-led corporation) may apply to this program. An eligible artist is:

  • A professional (age 18 or over and not currently a full-time student) jazz artist, working solo or working with a composer-led or collective jazz ensemble which consists of 2-10 musicians;
  • Based in the U.S. or its territories, and is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident;
  • Perceived within a career level spectrum from emerging to more established, but not highly popular or saturated within the current jazz market.

Project Expense Eligibility

The following artists’ expenses are eligible for grant support:

  • Performance fees: the amount the artist/ensemble will normally charge for a touring engagement fee such as the one planned.
  • Travel (ground and air): the total estimated cost of travel to your tour sites. Jazz Road can support roundtrip economy airfare, purchased no less than 14 days prior to the departure date, or ground travel. Ground transportation refers to train, bus, taxi, car or shuttle services.
  • Hotel/Lodging: the estimated cost for each night of lodging while you tour and the total number of rooms you will require.
  • Meals/Per diem: the total number of days you are eligible to request meals/ per diem support include days of travel to and from the tour engagements, plus required load-in days, and activity between the first performance date and last performance date.
  • Administrative support for artist’s tour coordination and promotion: Jazz Road will earmark up to $2,500 per tour to support these services.

Tour Eligibility

  • Eligible tour routing will span three to six sites on contiguous dates with a total distance of at least 250 miles, or a tour route spanning three to six sites, at least one of which must be 250 miles from the applicant’s home base. Tours can include more than six sites, as budgeting allows.
  • Each venue listed on the tour must demonstrate their commitment to the engagement if the application is funded by providing a signed Letter of Intent.

The following types of organizations are eligible to be included in Jazz Road Tours applications:

  • Both nonprofit and commercial established jazz presenters and clubs
  • Performing arts centers, theaters, and concert halls
  • Universities, colleges and institutions of higher education
  • Jazz festivals
  • Radio station live segments
  • Artist spaces
  • Community centers
  • Churches, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship
  • Galleries
  • Listening rooms and libraries
  • House concerts
  • Open-air markets
  • Retail and civic events
  • Social scene hotspots


  • Anchor presenter: defined for the purposes of this program as traditional venues which consistently program jazz, (generally) the first to commit to presenting the touring artist. Anchor presenters are expected (generally) to pay the full artist’s fee, and to assist the artist in identifying other, smaller communities and venues for additional touring dates.
  • Isolated: While some communities are isolated by geography (rural), other characteristics may contribute to a community’s sense of being under-resourced, isolated, or otherwise lacking advantages typical of an urban infrastructure. South Arts will consider these characteristics, including population, when reviewing proposals.
  • Nontraditional presenter: See a list of examples above.
  • Presenter: an entity that presents the performing arts through public performances. For the purposes of this program, a jazz presenter can be any of the types of organizations or activities listed above.
  • Regional Arts Organizations (RAOs): The six Regional Arts Organizations serve artists, arts organizations, and communities around the country with a wide variety of programs. Jazz Road is a joint effort led by South Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Mid-America Arts Alliance, New England Foundation for the Arts, and WESTAF/Western Arts Alliance. For additional information about this partnership, please visit About.
  • Rural: Population of 50,000 or below is one standard definition of rural. For this program, South Arts will use this as a guidepost only.
  • Suburban: A mixed-use or residential area, existing as a part of a city/urban area, or within commuting distance of a city.
  • Tour: defined for the purposes of this program as a small 3-6 site series of performance engagements on contiguous dates, potentially across states or regions.
  • Underserved: defined for the purposes of this program as populations whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, age, economics, or disability.
  • Urban: An area with high population density and infrastructure of the built environment.

Letters of Intent Instructions

South Arts has developed a Letter of Intent form for applicants that requests specific information; please download the form here and use Adobe Acrobat to complete it for each venue.

Jazz Road Tours expects that for any given tour, certain presenters/venues can commit to paying the total artist fees/hotel/travel/per diem—or a high percentage—and others may only have capacity to commit in-kind contributions of other expenses.

We recognize that many of the numbers requested below may be estimates and could change prior to the engagement.

Section 1: This section collects pertinent information about the tour engagement. Enter the Artist/Band Name, Town, State, Date/Time of Show(s), Presenter Name, and Presenter Address.

In the “artist fee” section, enter the full amount the artist would expect to be paid for this engagement, even if that full amount is not being paid by the presenter. Enter the appropriate expenses for travel, hotel, and per diem.

The “total artist expense” will calculate the sum of these number automatically.

Section 2: Describe any community engagement or audience development activities anticipated during this engagement, if applicable.

Section 3: Using the appropriate choice for this engagement, indicate how much (if any) of the artist fee from Section 1 the presenter is anticipated to contribute to this engagement. The presenter’s contribution to the artist fees will be calculated automatically.
Note: this amount is considered part of the “presenter match.”

Section 4: Enter the amounts that the presenter is anticipated to contribute toward the artist’s hotel, travel, and per diem/meals; this may be either a financial expense and/or in-kind. The presenter’s contribution to these tour expenses will be calculated automatically.
Note: this amount is considered part of the “presenter match.”

Section 5: Enter the amounts that the presenter is anticipated to pay towards promotion/marketing, equipment/backline, and direct event staffing/operations. The presenter’s expenses will be calculated automatically.
Note: this amount is considered part of the “presenter match.”

Section 6A: The maximum possible requested amount for this engagement toward eligible artist expenses will be calculated automatically. This is determined by subtracting the totals from Sections 3 and 4 from Section 1.

Section 6B: The presenter match will be calculated automatically, and is the sum of Sections 3, 4, and 5.

Presenter Match and Total Request

Jazz Road Tours supports total requests of up to $15,000; this includes up to $12,500 in eligible artist tour expenses outlined in the guidelines, which requires a collective 1:1 match by the presenters on the tour. An additional request of up to $2,500 for administrative costs related to tour coordination and promotion is available, which does not require a match.

The applicant’s request of up to $12,500 in eligible tour expenses and the collective match can be calculated through the content entered into each Letter of Intent. The total tour expenses must be equal to or greater than the collective presenter match (this may be calculated by adding the totals of Section 6B from all Letters of Intent), and equal to or less than the maximum potential artist expense request (this may be calculated by adding the totals of Section 6A from all the Letters of Intent); this total may also not exceed $12,500.

Application Review

Applications for Jazz Road Tours will be reviewed by panels comprised of experts in the jazz field from across the U.S.

Review Criteria

Applications will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • 50% Artistic excellence of the applicant and ensemble, as demonstrated by artist’s biography and work samples;
  • 50% Merit of the proposed tour as demonstrated by:
    • Applicant’s readiness to tour;
    • Impact of tour on artist/ensemble’s professional and/or artistic development at this time;
    • Quality and clarity of artist-presenter planning as evidenced in Letter of Intent and Application Narrative;
    • Diversity of organizations/venues involved (type, size, geographic areas served);
    • The tour’s ability to engage new jazz listeners through touring in underserved, rural, and isolated areas or in collaboration with venues newer to jazz programming;
    • Quality and clarity of plan for tour coordination and routing;
    • Quality and clarity of plan to use administrative/promotional support (if applicable)

Incomplete applications will not be considered for review.

Grant Award and Payment

South Arts contracts with the applicant artist or his/her business entity on behalf of his/her ensemble. The applicant must provide government-required documentation showing his/her U.S. citizenship or Permanent Resident status. Grant funds are taxable income; grantees must comply with all applicable city, state, and federal laws, ordinances, codes, and regulations affecting the project. The grantee is solely responsible for the management of the tour and disbursement and reporting of the grant income.

Application Deadlines

  • Aug 1, 2019 for tours between Oct 2019 – Sept 2020
    • Notification: Sept 2019
  • Future application cycles will be announced TBD.

Applications must be completed and submitted through the GoSmart online system by the published deadline. Applications submitted after the deadline will not be considered for review. No hard copies of the application will be accepted for consideration.

Application Procedure and Required Materials

South Arts uses the GoSmart online application system for Jazz Road. To access the online application, please visit https://southarts.gosmart.org/

  1. Application Narrative
  2. Biography
  3. Link to Artist Website and Other Social Media Links
  4. Tour Summary
    1. Countersigned Letter of Intent between the artist and the proposed presenter/promoter for each tour engagement. The letter (template available) must include the following:
      1. South Arts has developed a Letter of Intent form for applicants that requests specific information; please download the form here and use Adobe Acrobat to complete it for each venue.
  5. Tour Budget Summary
  6. Three video and/or audio links that best represent your music. You may also include a link to the artist’s electronic press kit as one of these links. Please see the Work Sample FAQ for information on how to select your links.