Sundance Institute 1981
Sitting around the campfire on a cool evening after a long day of rehearsals at the Sundance Labs, you’ll often hear the story of how Sundance first came to be. It was around 1981, when Founder Robert Redford conceived of a place for American artists to share ideas and take creative risks with their work. That year, the newly-established Sundance Institute made an appeal to the nation’s leading funder of artistic endeavor — the National Endowment for the Arts — to support its nascent program for independent storytellers. Recognizing the opportunity to foster a diverse community of pioneering new American filmmakers, the NEA responded by awarding Sundance its very first grant. From that visionary investment more than three decades ago, the NEA has provided enduring support for the Feature Film Program and Theatre Program, as well as the Institute’s international Film Forward program and more recently the Artist Services initiative. Our joint commitment to artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation has benefitted thousands of artists across the country and millions of community members around the world. Sundance Institute salutes the National Endowment for the Arts for enabling our work to nurture generations of American storytellers and introduce their stories to audiences everywhere.