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Updates from the Sundance Institute’s Artist Programs

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Dear family and friends,

Nearly a year ago, we announced our Respond and Reimagine Fund, which dedicated a million dollars in grants to artists and organizations impacted by the pandemic, with priority support for BIPOC artists and organizations that have been disproportionately affected. In the difficult months since then, the resilience, collective action, and creativity of the independent artist community have continued to inspire us, as they persisted despite adversity.

Submissions to the Sundance Institute’s labs and granting programs have been steady — in some cases, they’re higher than ever — and we recognize the ongoing urgency of providing creative and financial support to artists making new work during a time of great difficulty. With this in mind, in addition to our existing creative labs, grants, and fellowships, we have expanded and enriched our direct financial support for artists this year with a particular focus on BIPOC communities.

We are pleased to announce two new granting funds:

  • The Uprise Grant Fund: Launching today through an open application, Uprise will dedicate $100,000 to support up to 25 emerging U.S.-based BIPOC artists whose creative development has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Created by our Outreach & Inclusion Program, this unrestricted fund will support personal livelihoods and creative projects.
  • The Arts Organizations Grant: $100,000 will be granted to eight to 10 U.S.-based BIPOC-led arts organizations working in film, theater, and emerging media. This is a continuation of the organizational granting we began last year as part of our Respond and Reimagine Plan, affirming our commitment and belief in the urgency of a strong, vibrant ecosystem of organizations dedicated to serving BIPOC artist communities. Applications will launch in the spring with nominators from a broad cross-section of media, arts, racial justice, philanthropy, and impact fields.

We are excited to be heading into our lab season, which begins in April. As the pandemic continues to affect our ability to gather safely, this year’s labs will again be hosted digitally on Sundance Co//ab, focusing on community-building, belonging, and mentorship as diverse artists come together to collaborate, advance their skills, and develop new work.

Beyond the selective lab programs, we are excited about the vitality and growth of the community of artists gathering every day on Sundance Co//ab to create, learn, share, and connect. Over the last year, we have hosted free master classes and online sessions reaching nearly 500,000 people with speakers including Patty Jenkins, Kasi Lemmons, Karyn Kusama, Dawn Porter, and more. Upcoming events include master classes with Oscar-nominated screenwriter Robin Swicord and Insecure showrunner Prentice Penny, as well as a range of in-depth courses for developing new work. In this year of isolation and separation, Sundance Co//ab has provided a space for creativity to flourish, hosting more than a million unique visitors from over 225 countries.

This summer will mark the Sundance Institute’s 40th anniversary. From Gina Prince-Bythewood to Chloé Zhao, Taika Waititi to Radha Blank, Sydney Freeland to Garrett Bradley, Nanfu Wang to Sterlin Harjo, Ryan Coogler, Nia DaCosta, Rodrigo García, and many more, the Institute’s artist programs have proudly supported many of the most exciting women and BIPOC independent artists of the last four decades. These storytellers have shaped the culture by bringing urgent and new perspectives that reflect the breadth of the world we live in, and their work would not be possible without time and support at the early stages of their careers.

We must ensure that there is equity among all artists as we work to have the stories of tomorrow more fully reflect our collective history, our community today, and the possibilities we see for a brighter future.

Thank you for being part of our community,

Michelle Satter, Founding Director, Feature Film Program
Carrie Lozano, Director, Documentary Film Program and Fund
Bird Runningwater, Director, Indigenous Program and DEI
Karim Ahmad, Director, Outreach & Inclusion

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Sundance Institute Piloting Direct Individual Support for Mediamakers Through the Sundance Institute | Humanities Sustainability Fellowship

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic upended life in general, and halted production and distribution for many creatives, the nonfiction field was plagued by issues of sustainability. For several years, sustainability has been an urgent and vigorous topic of study, debate, and organizing, as more and more filmmakers find it difficult, if not impossible, to make a living solely on the basis of their creative work. 

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