State Department Exchange Programs

The U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs offers grants for programs that support exchanges and build relationships between U.S. nonprofit organizations and cultural groups abroad.

Orchestras with plans to travel internationally should take note of an opportunity for indirect support from the State Department, and consider contacting a U.S. Embassy abroad to discuss a potential proposal. The Performing Arts Initiative enables U.S. Embassies to present American performing art and artists as a means to engage foreign audiences and provide insight into American culture and values. U.S. Embassies submit the proposals, which are competitively reviewed. Projects are typically selected twice annually. 

Periodically, the State Department will release a call for proposals, providing opportunities for U.S. nonprofit organizations to receive grants to implement exchange programs to foster artistic excellence or support professional development of foreign participants, all while cultivating mutual understanding and collaboration with other countries. Among the range of eligible activities are performing arts and arts education, and a key component of any program is reciprocity, as exchanges are intended to foster a sense of common interests and common values. Learn about various arts-related grant opportunities under the “Arts and Culture” Special Focus Area on Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs website.

Cultural Diplomacy Opportunity: Musicians May Apply Now

Orchestra musicians interested in participating in international cultural diplomacy should take note of two application deadlines at the U.S. Department of State. The 2016-2017 season of American Music Abroad is currently accepting applications until January 24, 2016. Applicants should demonstrate artistic integrity, musical ability, knowledge of music in American history and culture, Music Business strategies and a strong commitment to community and education programming.  Groups of 3-5 are encouraged to apply.

Another opportunity is to apply for OneBeat 2016, which is accepting applications from January 4-February 5, 2016.  OneBeat returns for its fifth year, convening innovative musicians from every region of the world in the U.S. for an exhilarating month of performances, discussions, interactive music-making events, and more. Interested musicians can learn more online.

Additional Funding Opportunities and Resources for International Cultural Exchange