THE BLACK SEED RFP

REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS AND APPLICATION TO SUPPORT BLACK THEATER INSTITUTIONS ACROSS THE NATION

*** Proposals due Friday, November 13, 2020 at 5PM ET ***


OVERVIEW

The Black Seed is a first-ever national strategic plan to create impact and thrivability for Black theater institutions, unprecedentedly led by a Black-led theater institution in collaboration with other Black-led institutions for communities of Black artists and Black audiences. Black theater institutions have been and will continue to be the guardians of the true American story, beginning with those historic institutions from the 60s and 70s and continuing to this era of racial injustice and unprecedented awareness.  The Black Seed will be a force for systemic change in the arts and culture world: a 21st century ecosystem for institutional thrivability, collectively tackling racial injustices and inequalities, and creating profound, world-class relevant art and replicable institutional and national partnership models. Key components include: 

 • The Black Seed Fund will award up to 50 grants from one to three years from $30,000 to $300,000
 • A National Think Tank of up to 50 Black theater institutional leaders from across the country to be convened.
 • The Black Seed National Leadership Circle to serve as a platform for major donors to invest in Black theater institutions across the nation with resources equally distributed;
 • The Black Seed Cohort comprised of national networks and coalitions, including Black Theatre Commons Black Theatre  Network, Black Theatre United, The International Black Theatre Summit, Project1Voice, and We See You that will convene to move the field forward; 
 • A National Marketing Campaign to tell the story of Black theater in America.

It is a brand agnostic endeavor that is not individualistic, celebrity-driven, or based on a scarcity-model geared towards creating a hierarchy of Black theaters. This optimistic enterprise, developed by everyday leaders who serve on the front lines of leading Black institutions for Black artists and Black communities, is impact oriented. The Black Seed is a synergistic solution to a long-standing problem of inequitable funding; we are greater - as a sector - than the sum of our individual parts.

The Black Seed will support Black-led theater institutions who serve predominantly Black communities and who produce, present, and/or commission new works and classic works, readings, conversations, festivals, summits and conferences, and/or performance art, as well as Black-led institutions focused on Black audience development; all rooted in the full diversity, complexity, and intersectionality of the Black experience. 

QUESTIONS?

The Black Seed will host virtual information sessions via Zoom for this Request for Proposals. Click the date you’d like to attend and register by filling out the form: Wednesday, October 14 at 3PM ET/12PM PT or Wednesday, October 21 at 3PM ET/12PM PT.

If you have any questions, please contact The Black Seed at TheBlackSeed@restorationplaza.org

OPPORTUNITY

The Black Seed invites Black theater institutions from across the nation that are Black-led; producing, presenting, and/or commissioning new works and classic works, readings, conversations, festivals, summits and conferences, and performance art, as well as Black-led institutions focused on Black audience development, all rooted in the full diversity, complexity, and intersectionality of the Black experience; and serving predominantly Black audiences. After decades of disinvestment and inequitable funding practices, The Black Seed invites proposals that seek to develop innovative initiatives that are long-term and will lead to significant and meaningful impact, as defined and measured by each Black theater institution. The Black Seed will prioritize proposals that will build long-term replicable models that develop and leverage national partnerships and systemic shifts towards greater equity for Black theater institutions, as well as initiatives that will serve as best practices for Black theater institutions, communities of Black artists and predominantly Black audiences, as well as the field-at-large. This includes, but is not limited to efforts to produce and commission work, increase staff and/or develop staff sharing models across institutions, expanding key programs, strengthening marketing or fundraising areas and developing collaborative marketing and fundraising models, or undertaking a number of other efforts that will lead to thrivability for the institution and the field. This funding does exclude capital projects (brick-and-mortar costs are not permitted, but limited equipment costs are acceptable).

Black theater institutions with annual operating budgets up to $3 million are eligible to apply.

Selected Black theater institutions will become a part of a Think Tank.

The Black Seed Think Tank will consist of up to fifty (50) non-profit Black theater institutions who will receive one-to-three years of investment in impact initiatives. The Black Seed is focused on building a framework of both autonomy and accountability by providing a platform for the Think Tank to shape its own professional development format, agenda, schedule, and methodologies.  We will convene a meeting of all Think Tank members in the first 3 months of the grant period (January  - March 2021), with breakout groups to enable the Think Tank to come together and begin the process of deepening community-building within the Black theater field to shape and to have the opportunity to self-select the most impactful  format  and topics (marketing, fundraising, board development, etc) that are central and authentic for professional development within the Black theater field. The Think Tank will also convene at the annual Black Theatre Network national conference annually in order to give the entire field an opportunity to participate.

The Black Seed is invested in ensuring that this initiative will evaluate and document its activities, including that of grantees, to ensure that we continue to center a thriving field-wide ecosystem.

If awarded a grant, your institution must be willing to participate in the following over three years:

Participation in annual Think Tank at the Black Theatre Network Annual Conference
held in July over three years.

A site visit
A phone or video interview
A one-page annual narrative report 

ELIGIBILITY

All applicants should:

Be a Black-led theater institution, serving predominantly Black audiences.
The Black Seed is defining “Black-led” as the Artistic Director, Executive Director, or President is
a person of African descent; if you have a board, then the board chair and the majority of the
board should be of African descent; and staff should be a majority of people of African descent.
Have 501(c)(3) status, or be an unincorporated group applying through a fiscal sponsor with a 501c3 status.
The Institution or the fiscal sponsor must have at least five independent board members.
Operate with a maximum of $3 million (as demonstrated by actual income and expenses from the most
recently completed fiscal year). 

Anchor Institution and National Advisory Committee

The Billie Holiday Theatre, founded in 1972 in response to the Civil Rights and Black Arts Movements and theater home to the largest African American community in the nation - Central Brooklyn - collaborates with three Black-led theater institutions, The CRAFT Institute, Plowshares Theatre Company, and WACO Theatre Center.

The Black Seed Cohort

Comprised of six Black-led service institutions: Black Theatre Commons, Black Theatre Network, Black Theatre United, The International Black Theatre Summit, Project1Voice, and We See You White American Theatre.

Philanthropic Partner

The Black Seed is profoundly grateful to the Lead Philanthropic Partner of The Black Seed, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation who is joined by a cohort of funders whose work is committed to social justice and equity in the arts, including The New York Community Trust, Ford Foundation, and The Howard Gilman Foundation.


APPLICATION

Application Specifications and Support Materials

APPLICATION PART I. Proposal Narrative:
Please respond to the following questions, not to exceed five pages (12 point font, single space, Times New Roman font).

THE INSTITUTION
Tell us about your organization. What is your vision and mission? What are your organization’s values and history? What programs or services do you provide? How are they important to your community?

THE AUDIENCE
We want to understand the communities that you serve. How do you define your communities and what system(s) of accountability do you have to ensure that you are serving your communities’ best interests? For example, do you get their feedback on programming? Are they involved in organizational decision-making? Are they represented on your staff?

DREAMING OUT LOUD
Tell us about your proposed initiative and why it is important to your institution, your community, and the Black-theater field at large. How do you imagine the initiative might have residual impacts beyond the funding period? How do you imagine the initiative will be resourced beyond The Black Seed funding period.

IMPACT
If you can take three years to complete the initiative above, how would you know you’ve reached your goals for impact?  What incremental markers/outcomes will let you know that you’re on the right path each year?

CONVERGING PANDEMICS OF COVID-19 AND ONGOING RACIAL INJUSTICES
Please describe the impact this unprecedented moment has had on your organization in as many institutional facets as you wish to share (financially, artistically, staffing, space, infrastructure, planning, etc.)

APPLICATION PART II. Initiative Budget
CLICK HERE to Download Two (2) Budget Templates (examples of the budget templates follow) and please also answer the following questions: How will you use the awarded grant funds? Please indicate costs over the term of your funding request (1 to 3 years). 50% of the grant request may be used for general operating support and should be budgeted appropriately. If applicable, note other confirmed and projected funding sources. 

APPLICATION PART III. Support Materials: Please include the following

  1. A list of your Board of Directors or that of the fiscal sponsor, including their professional affiliations.
  2. List of current foundation, government, and corporate funders, if applicable.
  3. Latest audited financial statement (for groups with budgets of $750,000+); CPA review report(for groups with budgets between $250,000 and $750,000); IRS Form 990 or 990 postcard (all others).
  4. The Black Seed proposal cover sheet (see below).
  5. Initiative Partners - please include a letter of endorsement for all partners
  6. Digital collateral that helps tell your institutional story. (optional)

HERE IS YOUR CHECKLIST BEFORE YOU SUBMIT: Please adhere to the following order

  1. Proposal Cover Sheet (see below)
  2. Proposal Narrative (max five pages)
  3. Two Budgets Completed: Proposed Initiative Budget and Three Year Budget
  4. A list of your Board of Directors or that of the fiscal sponsor, including their professional affiliations.
  5. List of current foundation, government, and corporate funders, if applicable.
  6. Latest audited financial statement (for groups with budgets of $750,000+); CPA review report (for groups with budgets between $250,000 and $750,000); IRS Form 990 or 990 postcard (all others).
  7. Initiative Partners - please include a letter of endorsement for all partners
  8. Digital collateral that helps tell your institutional story. (optional)

Instructions for Submission

  1. Combine all pages for Application PARTS I, II, and III, as well as The Black Seed Cover Sheet (see below) into a single PDF file — THIS WILL BE YOUR COMPLETED APPLICATION.
  2. Submit the PDF file online by 5:00 pm on Friday, November 13, 2020 to TheBlackSeed@RestorationPlaza.org
  3. Once submitted, you will receive a confirmation email from The Black Seed. 

PROPOSAL REVIEW PROCESS

Applications will be reviewed by a committee of 7 - 10 practitioners in the field. Following the review process, the committee will share grant recommendations with the philanthropic partners.  We expect to notify all applicants about the status of their proposals in December 2020. Please Note: No member of the National Executive Advisory Committee of The Black Seed will be a reviewer of grant proposals and the anchor institution, The Billie Holiday Theatre, has recused itself from applying for grant funding.


PROPOSAL COVER SHEET

Organization Information
Name of Organization:
EIN:
Year Founded:
Address:
Phone:Website:
Organization Head:
Email:
Organization budget FY21:
Mission/Vision:

Staff (Full and Part Time) Information
Total Staff Numbers:
Total Board Numbers:
Racial Identity of Staff and Board (Percentages);

Current Audience Information
Age Served:
Gender Served:
Racial Identity Served:
Additional Audience Information:

Proposed Initiative Information
Title of Initiative:
Requested Funding Amount:
Duration of Initiative: (1-3 years)
Description of Initiative (100 words or less):
Initiative Partners:
Proposal Contact if other than Organization Head:
Email:
Initiative Location:
Initiative Audience (if this proposal is specific to a segment of your audience not already described above, please explain):


BUDGET TEMPLATES FOR INITIATIVE

Please use the below Maximum Funding Request Guide to determine what your maximum ask should be.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD Two (2) Budget Templates.

Budget 1 of 2: Budget for Proposed Initiative:

Budget 2 of 2: Institutional Budget

MAXIMUM FUNDING REQUEST GUIDE

Largest Operating Budget Number from FY19 or FY20 Maximum Funding Request Per Initiative
Up to $100,000 $50,000 Maximum Grant Request 
$100,001 - $500,000 $100,000 Maximum Grant Request  
$500,001 - $1,000,000 $150,000 Maximum Grant Request 
$1,000,001 - $1,500,000 $200,000 Maximum Grant Request 
$1,500,001 - $2,000,000 $250,000 Maximum Grant Request 
$2,000,001 - $3,000,000 $300,000 Maximum Grant Request