Jazz Road Tours - FAQ

We recognize that applicants will have many questions as they begin exploring Jazz Road Tours. We have assembled this FAQ to address the most commonly-asked questions. If your question is not addressed here or in the program guidelines, please contact us.

FAQ last updated December 10, 2021.

About the Application

When are applications due?

Jazz Road Tours now accepts applications on a rolling basis. This means there are no deadlines to apply, so that artists can submit on their own schedule. 

Should I try to get my application in early?

We urge you to wait to apply until you have secured firm, legitimate Offer Letters from presenters which include all required information noted in the program Guidelines. There is no need to rush your submission due to concern that funds will become unavailable early in this competitive process.

How do I write the narrative?

We encourage applicants to review the narrative questions as a whole before entering answers in each field. We recommend you compose and save your responses in Word or another platform that will save your work; make sure you are within the character limits for each question; and, when you’re satisfied, cut and paste your responses into the GO Smart online application.

How do diversity, equity and inclusion affect the proposal review?

Jazz Road provides new, artist-driven tours of jazz to reach new audiences. While there are no specific expectations for each individual application, the program overall is looking to fund activities which include:

Artists rooted in jazz as an African American experience and communal music, based upon the relationship between artists, elders, and their communities. Artists and presenters representing the full spectrum of gender identity, age, race/ethnicity, location, and disability, with an emphasis on supporting more women in jazz. Artists and presenters in small, rural and isolated communities. Overall, Jazz Road aims to fund tours that reach audiences/communities in all six US regions and territories. Tours which reach listeners of diverse age, gender identity and race.

About Eligibility

Who is eligible?

Only individual artists (as an individual, an artist-led nonprofit organization, or an artist-led corporation) may apply to this program. An eligible artist is:

A professional jazz artist, working solo or working with a composer-led or collective jazz ensemble which consists of 2-10 musicians; Age 18 or over and not currently a full-time student; Based in the US or its territories, and is a US citizen or permanent resident (non-residents may participate in a tour, but not be paid with Jazz Road Tours funds)

Are choreographers/dancers working collaboratively with established jazz artists on a specific touring work eligible to qualify for this grant?

The intent is to support equitable fees for jazz bands to tour to both experienced jazz venues and spaces new to jazz, while hoping to create new audiences for live jazz. A jazz ensemble accompanying what is primarily a dance performance wouldn’t fall within this program’s parameters. If a jazz ensemble is the primary artistic statement in a performance, there may be room for eligibility, and the work should be discussed with the South Arts Director, Jazz before beginning an application.

How does Jazz Road specifically define “mid-career” in terms of artist eligibility?

The program is intended to support artists along a career spectrum from emerging/mid-career to more established. Applicants may define for themselves where they are on the career spectrum. Given that this program is to provide new opportunities for artists that do not tour often throughout many areas of the US, applicants that make a strong case for how the tour is impacting their careers in new ways are more competitive.

Can an established jazz artist or ensemble apply?

The program aims to provide new touring opportunities to artists that have not had a lot of tour experience beyond their locales and/or throughout the US. Jazz artists in the beginning or middle of their careers, who have not toured often or in various regions of the US – for whom this project has substantial career impact – are most appropriate for this highly competitive program. Artists that are perceived to be masters, legends, or highly successful – those that are consistently visible in the jazz and/or commercial markets via a high number of engagements within jazz presenters’ seasons, regular billing at festivals, ongoing US touring, and/or receipt of major honors, awards and accolades – CAN apply and are not considered ineligible. They will, however, have the challenge of making the case that a grant truly affords them a new opportunity and makes a pivotal difference in their careers, while the tour addresses the program’s primary goals. Because these distinctions are relative, open to a range of interpretations – and a panel’s deliberations cannot be predicted – these are the best parameters we can offer. Please review the Recipients section of the website to learn about the first round of funded artists and tours supported by the program. This may give you further context for this question.

If you are an up-and-coming artist but you perform with more notable artists as a rhythm section, is that acceptable?

Yes! If you consider yourself an emerging artist and a “side person” or band member for a group that is led by an artist of greater renown, you are eligible to apply on behalf of yourself or your own band.

When an ensemble applies, do all members of the ensemble have to be US citizens or Permanent Residents or are they allowed to collaborate with international guests too?

At this time, we require all applicants and a majority of band members to meet the requirement, in order to provide as much support as possible for US artists to expand their touring footprint. Jazz Road funds cannot cover either travel to the US, or within the US, for international artists. If an ensemble includes one or two international artists, the application is eligible and if successful would require that grant funds be paid/distributed only to US artists.

Can an artist/ensemble apply for more than one Jazz Road Tours grant?

No. An artist can apply as the lead applicant for one tour and be included as an ensemble member with a different lead artist for an additional tour. Current Jazz Road Tours grantees are eligible to apply again for tours that begin at least one year from a current grant's project end date.  A key Jazz Road Tours objective is to award a large, diverse pool of artists for new tour experiences across the U.S.

Can a smaller ensemble of a larger jazz orchestra apply?

Yes. The narrative, Offer Letter, and work samples should be specific to the smaller group of artistic personnel.

Can I start my tour as my duo and then have my trio/quartet/etc. at other dates?

No. Jazz Road supports new tour opportunities for artists in a consistent performance context so that solo artists or bands can experience the growth inherent in repetition, exposure, and collective resources. In addition, the panel must evaluate artistic quality of the applicant and artistic personnel which is as consistent as possible for each application.

The grant application asks for band members’ names. This is an unknown for many musicians, especially if people play with various line ups, and selected personnel will depend on availability.

We understand the fluid nature of jazz ensembles and touring. For the purposes of this grant program, you will need to identify the primary ensemble members and provide work samples that most closely represent the band and music to tour. Because the funding decisions are based on two criteria – artistic excellence (demonstrated by work samples and biographical content) and artistic merit (demonstrated by the planned tour), you’ll be most competitive when you can identify and provide work samples by the artists who’ll be part of the tour. Please list the artists you will likely work with in the appropriate section(s) and provide work samples that are as closely representative as possible. You should also list one or two substitutions you would draw from in the event that artists become unavailable.

You are presenting a dichotomy regarding artists – those who have not toured a lot (more competitive for these grants) AND legends/award recipients (less competitive for this grant). Most mid-career artists who can solidly demonstrate a developed artist product, and have the ability to handle touring, fall in–between these categories. You are also referring to artists reaching out to presenters with whom they have relationships, which implies having had past tours. Could you please clarify that aspect of the grant focus?

You’re right, it’s hard to define these nuances sometimes. Mid-career artists with the development and abilities you reference are indeed competitive, as are even more established artists. A reality is that many emerging, mid-career and more established artists have isolated touring experience in “predictable” areas, but very little consistent touring of scale in the US or in more remote, underserved areas of the US.

Next, having relationships with presenters does not imply that tours have taken place. Regardless, when reviewing the current recipients, it is clear that grantees range from lesser-known artists with minor touring and more notable artists that have not toured consistently to certain areas of the US, or at all with new projects. Beyond these specifications, recipients have competitively addressed other evaluation criteria as well. We are basically wanting to support tours that introduce artists residing in every region of the US to new audiences located in all areas of the US, especially locales that do not have access to live jazz often or even ever. So, if you fall into the description above, your tour may include one or two presenters you’ve been engaged by previously, as well as dates with small/rural/alternative presenters in communities you’ve not yet performed in.

About Developing the Tour

When can the tours take place?

Applications must be submitted at least 60 days to 18 months prior to the project start date.

Where can the tours take place?

Tours can take place anywhere in the US, District of Columbia, and US Territories. Tours must cover a total distance of at least 250 miles, or at least one of the tour engagements must be 250 miles from the applicant’s home base.

Can the entire tour take place in a region that is not your home area?

Yes, in fact it is a requirement that tours must cover a total distance of at least 250 miles, or at least one of the tour engagements must be 250 miles from the applicant’s home base.

Do the tours have to happen inside of your general region? So, for example, can you only tour to Midwest states, if you live in the Midwest?

No, see "Where can the tours take place?" above.

In fact, Jazz Road exists to help jazz artists expand their touring footprint. No matter where you reside (within the US including D.C. and territories), your tour can take place anywhere within the US including D.C. and territories.

Does Jazz Road exclude cross country tours?

No, although cross-country tours (with locations/venues spanning a wide expanse of the US) are likely to be more expensive than this program has resources to support. Our goal is that the artists ultimately retain earnings from the tour. However, touring in an area of the country far from your home is eligible, as is a multi-state or multi-region tour, as long as the tour dates are consecutive, and the budget is feasible.

Can my application be for a portion of a larger tour and should I include information about the additional dates, sites and venues?

Yes, through a brief description within the application narrative, you are encouraged to describe the full scope of your tour for context, especially if it includes relevant routing information, but it is not a requirement.

Are tours outside the country, such as Canada, eligible?

While tours may include dates in Canada, all Jazz Road dates and funding must be directed to performances in the US and its territories.

Does Jazz Road offer any services to artists for setting up venues and tours?

We may be able to help you identify potential venues and tour sites; however, we’re not able to assist each artist/ensemble with setting up a tour. As part of this project, we are committed to collecting information on a variety of resources to support a better jazz touring ecology in the US. One resource-in-progress is an initial Call for Presenters that allows presenters (especially those considered non-traditional, alternative and/or located in rural and underserved areas) to express interest in Jazz Road and provide permissions for artists to contact them on a selective and responsible basis. To receive this preliminary information, you are advised to contact your Jazz Road RAO (Regional Arts Organization) Liaison listed on the website. You can also share the Call for Presenters link with presenters that may wish to be included. Please note that the data collection is still very much in its infancy as we are only beginning to populate this resource with consistent, robust content for each state. Here are other steps:

You can position this program to your advantage; through Jazz Road, you can negotiate a range of engagements with fees that represent realistic and fair compensation, along with costs for travel, hotel, food, artists’ backline, and up to $2,500 for administrative support connected to your Tour coordination and promotion. The grant can enable a reduced financial responsibility from the presenter, particularly if they are new to presenting jazz. Consider a combination of presenters:
  1. Those with whom you’ve worked in the past
  2. Those who are entirely new to you
  3. Presenters who’ve previously expressed interest in your work
  4. And/or exist in areas where you’d like to tour and gain greater visibility.
Refer to platforms such as All About Jazz/Jazz Near You which lists up to 35,000 presenters, venues and programmers organized by state. Various jazz publications also maintain jazz club/presenter/festival directories. Research possible state-wide networks of presenters through contacting various state arts agencies. These consortia often work together to block-book touring artists. Consult your peer network and do your online research. If you are looking for additional sites, you may contact the RAO (Regional Arts Organization) that covers the state(s) you reside in (first) and other states that include the presenters you are seeking information for (second). The RAOs may have suggestions (but not endorsements).


Are all kinds of venues eligible as long as they propose terms through an Offer Letter?

Generally, yes; we are looking for tours that reach new listeners through new venues.

For churches as alternative venues: if we are doing a jazz service with all original music, can that count as one of the venues (i.e., rather than being a stand-alone concert)?

Performances in places of worship can be included as one of the venues, as long as the service is open and welcoming to the public and non-parishioners.

When you state “consecutive” can I have concerts Friday / Saturday of one week and have my other two concerts the following week (Friday / Saturday)? Or do you mean: I would have to have all four concerts in a row – Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday?

Engagements don’t need to be totally sequential and every day! But they need to be all along a tour route. Friday/Saturday of one week, followed by Friday/Saturday of the next week is eligible as long as you don’t return to your home base in between. You would have to determine how to cover your expenses while on the road between the dates; or you could find one or two additional programmers – perhaps those who haven’t presented jazz before – and potentially use some of the grant funds to pay your fee and expenses for those weekday engagements.

You suggest we contact the Regional Arts Organization that we reside in—however it would seem intuitive to contact the RAO in the region we are targeting for touring—for example to get a better sense of underserved areas / venues to target (vs more easily available lists of jazz clubs and PACs). What would be your suggestion?

Each RAO should be able to provide general information about Jazz Road and specific information about the Jazz Road Tours application process and resources. If you are seeking listings connected to your region, please contact your RAO. Additionally, if you are interested in venue listings in other regions, your RAO may either continue to provide more resources within your region of interest, or they will refer you to another RAO partner. Lastly, if an artist needs more in-depth exploration on a region’s presenters or regional touring dynamics, that artist will be referred to the RAO representing that terrain.

How can presenters directly participate in Jazz Road Tours, and what can they gain?

Artists initiate applications and tours for the most part, but presenters can also do so (they just can’t be the direct applicant). The following is taken directly from the Guidelines:

What Artists Can Convey to Presenters and What Presenters/Programmers/Promoters Should Know: Though Jazz Road Tours will award grants directly to artists for tour support, there is a significant role and benefit for presenters throughout the planning and application process. Programmers can pursue artists they’d like to present, inform them of Jazz Road, work with colleague presenters/venues to build the tour and optimal routing, and assist the artist in developing a tour application. Presenters can negotiate for reduced fees when the artist applies to receive equitable fee support through a grant request. We hope that experienced, traditional and well-resourced presenters will support larger fee amounts within the tour so that alternative spaces newer to jazz (and often located in under-resourced, remote or rural areas) can experience less risk in bringing jazz to a new audience. Therefore, if the application is funded the presenters may receive the benefit of a lower or no artist fee, and will become more visible as a participating Jazz Road Tours presenter as the program becomes increasingly promoted on a larger scale.

What do presenters, programmers and venues mean?

An entity that presents guest performing artists through public performances. For the purposes of this program, a jazz presenter can be any of the types of organizations or activities listed in the Guidelines.

Does my tour have to include an “anchor” presenter?

No, your tour is not required to include an anchor presenter whose jazz presenting history and commitment can provide greater stability and higher visibility for you. One of the review criteria is the diversity of organizations/venues involved (type, size, geographic areas served). Often an initial booking with an anchor presenter lets you plan additional tour dates with smaller and non-traditional venues around this solid engagement, and tours including this mix will be most competitive.

What if my tour dates haven’t been set yet?

You should secure committed dates with the presenters you are working with whenever possible. Tour dates are required to be contiguous, which means that each date is crucial to the structure of the tour. At the time of application, if a majority of the dates are committed to in the Offer Letters or contracts, but one or two are not, the panel can evaluate the quality and clarity of artist-presenter planning accordingly.

What if I only have two venues?

Your tour must include at least three sites/venues.

Can my tour include dates at commercial jazz clubs?


Can my tour include performances at underserved high schools or middle schools? Is a master class or workshop considered to be “engagements”?

K-12 schools may certainly be a part of the artists’ activities in communities, and any opportunities for the artists to engage with local participants such as through school shows, master classes or workshops are a positive. However, each tour stop must have a public performance, and we don’t typically consider a lecture-demonstration, workshop or school concert for students to be a public performance. We anticipate that in rural areas, or areas underserved by the arts, public performances may only be possible at a high school/middle school auditorium. In these cases, an external presenter (such as a local arts agency) is eligible to present a public performance (for audience members of all ages, and not exclusive to students) in these settings.

Can I play at a venue for more than one night?

Yes, so long as at least three venues and communities comprise the tour.

Can my tour include performances that I present (finding or renting a space), rather than a local venue presenting us?

Self-producing is not allowable at this time.

What if my tour has more than six sites?

Jazz Road Tours grants will currently support a maximum of six tour engagements. You can select the six contiguous sites that most closely align with Jazz Road’s goals and requirements to include in your application.

Does my tour need to have a certain number/percentage of engagements in small/rural/isolated communities?

This program is particularly interested in engaging new audiences for jazz, and those who haven’t had regular opportunities to experience live jazz performance. There is no specific quota for small/rural/isolated communities for each funded tour, but the set of tours funded in each round will be selected with an overall goal of reaching these populations.

Does my tour need to have a certain number/percentage of engagements in alternative/non-traditional jazz venues?

This program is particularly interested in engaging new audiences for jazz, particularly those who haven’t had regular opportunities to experience live jazz performance. There is no specific quota for alternative/non-traditional venues and venues that don’t regularly present jazz such as community centers, galleries, artist spaces, houses of worship, house concerts, open air markets, etc. for each funded tour, but the set of tours funded in each round will be selected with an overall goal of reaching these populations often through venues such as these.

If a club or venue agrees to a performance, how can we book a date if a tour is only possible with grant support and that grant award is an unknown factor?

Each engagement requires an Offer Letter (signed by the venue/club) between the venue and the artist. This Letter may or may not be considered legally binding and/or contingent upon receiving funding from Jazz Road, based on the negotiations between the two parties. The Jazz Road team does not make or require this determination. A contract may be submitted in lieu of an Offer Letter.

About the Repertoire

Are Gospel Music Tours eligible for funding?

Gospel is often a facet of jazz. Certain jazz artists are influenced by gospel and classify themselves within gospel jazz categories. Gospel music tours, however, are generally separate and distinct from how jazz tours, do not primarily feature jazz as an art form, or prioritize building new jazz audiences. Therefore, gospel music tours do not fall within Jazz Road guidelines.

Must the artist/ensemble be presenting original compositions, or is it acceptable to perform standards, or material composed by others?

Original compositions are not required, and all of this repertoire is eligible.

The guidelines state that Jazz Road is not trying to define jazz. Is my hip hop funk/jazz group qualified?

Jazz Road recognizes excellence in the full aesthetic range of jazz music and awareness of current trends in creative development. Jazz as a hybrid with funk, hip hop, and other forms is eligible.

Is there any limit on the number of awards given (albeit indirectly) to a particular venue/presenter? For example, can (3) unique artists win awards if they all are hoping to route through a common presenter (unbeknownst to everyone except the presenter?)

In general, the program hopes to support performances in new places for new audiences. It is likely that in the event of multiple applications involving a particular presenter/venue, if they are evaluated equally in the review process, the priority would be to fund the tour that reaches the most diverse group of venues/communities, but funding more than one tour is possible and not an eligibility issue.

About the Total Budget Summary

How does the up to $2,500 optional artist’s administrative tour coordination/promotion work?

Artist tour coordination/promotion support is an eligible expense for activities that you or an associate take on to handle logistics (time spent to communicate with presenters, reach out to target communities, arrange for travel/lodging/meals, rent equipment, etc.); and for promotion of the tour (time/expenses for purchased advertising, social media outreach, printing, etc.). You may request up to $2,500 for these expenses if your grant amount request is less than or equal to $12,500.

Can the optional artist’s admin/tour/promo coordination request cover a grant writer’s fee?

No. We really hope we’ve simplified the application and forms enough so that you don’t have to have grant writing experience to be successful.

Does the cost of a tour manager (someone to accompany the band and help with lodging, driving, scheduling, etc.) constitute part of the tour administration part of the grant?

This cost can be part of the eligible artist fee total or a part of the “up to $2,500” artist tour coordination/promotion total if the rest of your grant amount request is less than or equal to $12,500. Either way it can be covered by grant funds.

Will an artist automatically qualify for the $2,500 if not granted any of the larger amounts?

No, each grant will be either fully funded or not funded at all.

Is the artist fee what an artist would normally request or is it what the artist is being paid by the presenter?

It is what you would consider your market value to be, given your standard of what is considered equitable, and in the context of the presenter’s scope of operations, budget size, audience size, admissions totals, and local economy. Jazz Road Tours is designed to increase jazz artists’ abilities to book and promote their own tours while being adequately compensated. Jazz Road grants can make up the difference between what the presenter can pay you, and what your market fee is.

What does in-kind mean?

For the purposes of the Jazz Road Tours application, in-kind pertains to how hotel/travel and food can be assessed for a financial value in conjunction with the artist fee when in fact that cost is met as a service (not by actual cash), and how that value is expressed in the Offer Letter.

Please review Offer Letter instructions in the guidelines. Within the offer, it is crucial that all terms related to payment to the artist are given a financial value so that a dollar amount can be applied toward a grant calculation. Therefore, when terms include in-kind items, a value must be listed in the letter.

Are there guidelines on how to determine the financial value of in-kind contributions?

No, we will recognize generally accepted market value in the Offer Letter.

What are possible scenarios when creating the Total Budget Summary?

Here are two examples of what an eligible request will look like for three engagements (one with the $2,500 request and one without):

Above: A sample Total Budget Summary in excess of $15,000.

Above: A sample Total Budget Summary less than $15,000

About the Offer Letter

Is there still a Letter of Intent?

No, the Letter of Intent has been replaced with an Offer Letter. It is essential that the applicant and the presenter share Jazz Road program goals and instructions so that there is a joint understanding of how to provide an Offer Letter. Here are instruction taken from the Guidelines:

Each tour venue listed in the application must demonstrate its commitment to the engagement by providing an Offer Letter (signed by the presenter) between the presenter and the artist. This Letter may or may not be considered legally binding and/or contingent upon receiving funding from Jazz Road based on the negotiations between the two parties. The Jazz Road team does not make or require this determination. The letter must include:

  • All engagement details including date, time, location, and promoter’s contact information.
  • All engagement terms related to payment to the artist, i.e., artist fee/hotel/travel (separate or inclusive). Please detail advance amount, values of door percentages, travel buy-outs, in-kind contributions, etc.

It is crucial that the above items are given a financial value in the letter so that a total dollar offer can be applied toward a grant amount calculation. Therefore, when terms include “…x or y, whichever is greater”, an estimated financial value must be established.

Contracts that include the above information can be submitted in lieu of the Offer Letter.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, South Arts encourages artists and venues to follow all local regulations, safety protocols, and directives issued by local and federal governments and agencies. Additionally, Offer Letters that include provisions to reschedule the artist's engagement –should they be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic – will be viewed as more competitive during our adjudication process.

About Work Samples

What if this is a new ensemble/new configuration, and we don’t have work samples yet?

The artist applicant should provide audio/video samples of work that most closely resemble the touring entity, including personnel, instrumentation, and music. Additionally, the applicant should focus on work of the highest artistic quality. If the touring ensemble is so new that no samples exist that closely represent it, the panel will consider the work samples of the primary artist, other personnel, and biography and narrative to determine artistic merit.

About Eligibility Within Funding Cycles

Can previously funded artists apply in the future?

Yes, previously funded artists are eligible to apply again. However, if an artist has been previously funded, we cannot fund that artist again until 1 year after their project end date. Please note that only Jazz Road Tours grantees that have completed their tours are eligible to reapply. In this case, applicants must propose new tours that begin at least one year from the completed tour’s end date. For example: If the funded artist’s tour end date was 5/16/2020, we cannot fund the artist again until 5/17/2021.

Do you anticipate this being an ongoing grant opportunity?

This program currently runs through June 30, 2022.

If a touring proposal was not funded in the first round, can it be saved and resubmitted?

Not at this time.

Are there any eligibility barriers from being funded by both a Jazz Road Tours and Creative Residencies grant?

We have not yet determined the parameters of Jazz Road Tours grants and Creative Residencies grants. We anticipate being able to share more program information later in early 2021.

Is there a scenario where we request $X – and get a portion of this request funded? Or are you looking to have less tours funded – but funded in full.

We expect to award up to 50 grants annually in full; we don’t plan to fund tours partially.

About Managing the Grant

If I receive a grant, how is it paid? How is the grant distributed?

The grant is payable to the artist applicant, either an individual, or an LLC or 501(c)3 if requested. Upon receiving this signed award letter and completed/signed W-9 form, 75% of your total grant amount will be paid within six weeks of your first tour date. The final 25% will be paid upon South Arts receipt and approval of your completed Final Report form.

What if my question is not addressed here?

Send it to sdonnelly@southarts.org.


For further information about any of the Jazz Road initiatives, contact the Jazz Road team at jazzroad@southarts.org or 404.874.7244 x103.

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