Overview of Opportunities

Sundance Institute COVID-19 Respond and Reimagine Plan

In an effort to support artists impacted by COVID-19, Sundance Institute is launching a $1 million urgent fund to support the immediate needs of artists in our community, as well as other filmmakers in need and organizations that share our focus on inclusive storytelling. One-third of the fund will support Institute-curated artists participating in Spring/Summer Labs on our digital platform Sundance Co//ab, while two-thirds will be dedicated to emergency support for the wider community of independent artists, deployed in collaboration with partner nonprofit organizations. See below for details on each initiative.

  • Emergency financial support to artists across the United States. We have joined an incredible group of arts organizations and leading national grantmakers who have partnered at this unprecedented moment to launch a cross-disciplinary, need-based fund called Artist Relief that will distribute funds to artists as quickly and efficiently as possible. Our partnership with Artist Relief will provide support to film and media artists who are facing dire circumstances due to COVID-19 with emergency grants of $5,000. Learn more and apply here.

  • Emergency financial support to U.S. and international independent artist organizations focusing on historically underrepresented communities, to be deployed by these organizations both as regrants to artists and to strengthen the organizations themselves in their ongoing work. Our peer organizations, funders, and artists will nominate organizations who will then be invited to apply. The final selection will be made by the Institute and a panel of outside advisors. Applications will be evaluated on organizational impact and artist community reach.


    Who is eligible for support?
    Nominated organizations or artist collectives must meet these four criteria:

    1. Commitment to Inclusion and Equity:
      Commitment to and a track record of prioritizing artists from historically underrepresented groups (artists identifying as black, indigenous, people of color, people with disabilities, people of underrepresented gender identities, and the LGBTQ+ community). For international organizations, a commitment to supporting artists in Africa, Indigenous communities (global), Latin America, and the Middle East in this first phase.
    2. Financial Need:
      Clear need due to adverse COVID-19 financial impact, where organizational health and sustainability are at stake. Also eligible are organizations that specifically support a community of artists who have a clear financial need due to adverse COVID-19 impact.
    3. Artist Support:
      Demonstrated impact in providing artists with creative artist support, such as granting, exhibition, residency space, infrastructure, or community. If granting, a proven ability to disburse grants effectively within their communities.
    4. Independence:
      Organizations that support independent media artists.

    Who are the nominators?
    Sundance Institute is soliciting nominations from 40 artists and organizations worldwide. Nominators represent a broad cross section of media, arts, racial justice, theatre, humanities, philanthropy, social sciences, and human rights fields. Nominators encompass trusted and long-standing partners, including peer arts organizations, funders, and Sundance Institute alumni artists. Half of the nominators are based outside the United States. We are prioritizing nominators with a commitment to inclusion and equity for underrepresented artist communities.

    What does the application consist of?
    Sundance staff will invite organizations to submit a short, simple application through our secure online application portal. We request an organizational mission, a description of their work and artist communities they service. Additionally, they will be required to provide a description of need and a granting plan that describes the intended use of funds.

    Who makes the decisions?
    Sundance Institute will convene two selection committees: one to review applicants based in the United States and one for international. The selection committee consists of Sundance Institute staff and external experts with deep regional expertise in media, artist support, and racial justice.

    Are individuals eligible to be nominated?
    No. Only arts organizations and artist collectives are eligible for nomination. We have joined an incredible group of arts organizations and leading national grantmakers who have partnered at this unprecedented moment to launch a cross-disciplinary, need-based fund called Artist Relief that will distribute funds to artists as quickly and efficiently as possible. We encourage individual artists to learn more and apply through artistrelief.org.

    How many organizations will you fund?
    Sundance Institute intends to support up to 40 organizations globally.

    When is this happening?
    By April 30, we will have solicited all nominations. Eligible organizations will be invited to apply starting the first week of May.

    Is there a deadline to submit an application?
    Yes. Eligible organizations will receive detailed instructions regarding the application deadline. The deadline will be mid-May.

    How long will your decisions take?
    We anticipate notifying awardees by early June.

    What will grantees receive?
    Grantees will receive non-recoupable grants. Grants will range from $10,000 and $25,000 USD, and will be determined based on need and potential impact.

    What can I use the funding for?
    Grants may be used to regrant to artists and/or to strengthen the organizations themselves in their ongoing work.

    Will the names of the organizations that receive grants be made public?
    Yes, organizations that receive grants will be announced via the Sundance Institute website and associated social media channels.

    Are there any reporting requirements if I receive a grant?
    Yes, we require a brief narrative report detailing how the funds were used.

  • Immediate support for 100 Sundance Institute-curated artists, across disciplines and at all stages of development. Grants will be given to the 2020 spring and summer Lab participants to be used for artists' emergency funds or for project development. Each of these artists will also receive creative and strategic support through Sundance Institute’s Lab programs, which have transitioned from in-person gatherings to events hosted on our digital platform, Sundance Co//ab.

Labs, Grants, and Fellowships

At the Institute’s core is a commitment to champion the creation of unique work by individual storytellers. Through open applications and by invitation, we offer Labs, grants, intensives, mentorships with accomplished professionals, and ongoing support to advance the development, production, and completion of independent work.

We encourage artists from around the world to apply for our programs.

  • The Documentary Film Program supports the development, production, and presentation of nonfiction films around the world. The Documentary Fund provides one to two million dollars in non-recoupable financing annually to documentary filmmakers selected through an open application process. The program invites grantees to participate in the Documentary Edit and Story Lab as well as the Music and Sound Design Lab for Documentary Film, and it provides ongoing advice and resources throughout the filmmaking process. Learn More

  • The Feature Film Program embraces the discovery and development of independent filmmakers from the U.S. and around the world, encouraging a rigorous creative process with a focus on original and deeply resonant storytelling. Artists typically enter the program though the Screenwriters Lab (held annually in January) or the Screenwriters Intensive (held annually in March) through open application to the Development Track. Through this platform, eligible artists can also be considered for the Sundance Institute Comedy Central Comedy Fellowship, Asian American Fellowship, Feature Film Program Latinx Fellowship, and Alfred P. Sloan Commissioning Grant and Fellowship.

    The Feature Film Program (FFP) supports directors with films in post-production through the Editing Mobile Lab and Film Music and Sound Design Lab. Projects are selected through invite to apply to the Post Production Track.

    In addition, the FFP advances projects through the Directors Lab (open to first-time feature filmmakers previously supported through the Development Track) and year-round, customized creative and tactical support, mentorship, and granting for program alumni. Learn More

  • Each summer, Sundance Institute’s Film Music Program holds Music and Sound Design Labs for composers and filmmakers working on feature and documentary films. Selected through an open application process, composers gain firsthand experience composing for film while in residence at Skywalker Ranch. Learn More

  • New Frontier at Sundance Institute is a dynamic initiative that identifies and fosters independent artists working at the convergence of film, art, media, live performance, music, and technology. Since 2007, the New Frontier exhibition at the Sundance Film Festival has provided the highest level of curation in the emerging field, showcasing fiction, nonfiction, and hybrid storytelling with installations, performances, and films. The New Frontier Story Lab provides a space for the creative development of this work. Participation in the lab and the Festival is by invitation only. Learn More

  • Sundance Institute's commitment to supporting Native American artists is woven throughout our history. From labs and fellowships to screenings and gatherings around the world, the Indigenous Program’s offerings are designed in response to the specific needs of Native and Indigenous storytellers. Learn More

  • The Sundance Institute Theatre Program advances the work of risk-taking theatre artists by providing rare developmental opportunities that support artists throughout their careers. By providing a continuum of creative support, we ultimately hope to contribute to a meaningful and engaging cultural dialogue between artists and their audiences. Led by Director Christopher Hibma, the program focuses on the development of new work for the stage. In response to the changing needs of the field, the Theatre Program hosts a range of creative labs and retreats throughout the year. Learn More

  • The Creative Distribution Initiative empowers filmmakers navigating the changing business of independent film. The program provides support and insights on creative funding, marketing, and distribution. Learn More

  • Over the past six years, we have witnessed an explosion in the opportunities available for writers developing episodic content for cable and online platforms. We have seen audiences and critics embrace the bold vision and complex characters that are thriving in cable drama and comedy. The internet has become both a place to pilot stories for traditional media and to create entertainment content for the growing audience watching on mobile devices. Learn More

  • The Creative Producing Initiative encompasses a year-round series of labs, fellowships, and events focusing on nurturing the next generation of independent producers and renewing the community of veteran producers dedicated to sustaining the vibrancy and vitality of independent film. Learn More

  • Sundance Ignite is a program designed to inspire a new generation of audience members and film artists around the power of storytelling. The program offers individuals ages 18 to 24 the Ignite Ticket Package, an exclusive chance to see the newest films at the Sundance Film Festival and the Ignite Fellows Program, a competitive and year-round Festival and industry experience. Learn More

  • Each year, the invitation-only Catalyst Forum introduces prospective financiers to a slate of 10 to 12 top-notch, Sundance Institute–supported documentary and fiction projects seeking financing. Through project presentations, individually scheduled meetings, and informal social gatherings, investors interface directly with filmmakers, top advisors, and Institute program leadership. Learn More

  • Women at Sundance is dedicated to creating gender equity in American media and innovating ways for women to succeed as storytellers who shape our cultural landscape. We support women filmmakers to grow and sustain their careers through a yearlong fellowship program, an annual financing intensive, and community events throughout the year. We collaborate in the field to activate systemic change through ReFrame, a project that partners with Women in Film Los Angeles and industry insiders to forge gender parity at every level in film, TV, and media.

    Learn More

  • Our Outreach & Inclusion Program builds upon the Institute’s commitment to support and celebrate voices from historically underrepresented communities. across all of the Institute’s artistic disciplines. Through our Knight-supported regional Sessions and Intensives, the Momentum Fellowship for midcareer artists, the Launch Grant for first-time feature filmmakers, this program nurtures storytellers from historically marginalized ethnicities, abilities, genders, regions, and orientations in bespoke and customized engagement. Learn More

Public Sessions

Open to all artists and held around the country, free public sessions and workshops offer participants premium resources and expert advice on topics ranging from screenwriting to digital distribution, providing opportunities for artists to be inspired in their storytelling and empowered to advance their projects to the next phase.

Sessions are offered by our Feature Film, Documentary Film, Film Music, Short Film, Creative Producing, Creative Distribution, Indigenous, New Frontier, Outreach & Inclusion Programs.

See All Upcoming Sessions

Sundance Co//ab

Sundance Co//ab is a free-to-join global learning and storytelling community for creators, featuring opportunities to get advice, personalized feedback, and resources, while forging new connections with other artists. Learn, share, and connect. Join now.

Code of Conduct

All Sundance Institute programs—including our labs, intensives, and sessions—are environments where bold, creative, and distinctive voices are celebrated. Sundance Institute is committed to allowing attendees to experience these programs free of harassment, discrimination, sexism, and threatening or disrespectful behavior. We reserve the right, without notice or refund of any related costs, to limit or revoke access to our programs for those who engage in such conduct. If you are involved in or witness something that violates this code of conduct, please notify someone on our staff, and we will work swiftly and discreetly to take appropriate action. For emergencies, immediately dial 9-1-1.