Mellon Distributes $4 Million to Support More than 360 Dance Artists and Collaborators through Bubble Residencies

Company Nora Chipaumire the latest Recipient of Quarantine “Dance Bubble” Funding that has Allowed Hundreds to Return to Work

NEW YORK, NY, February 3, 2021 – The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation today announced it has distributed grants of more than $4 million to further its support for dance artists through “bubble residencies.” During COVID-19, the performing arts industry has suffered immensely from closures and the lack of protective infrastructure for artists to financially survive. In response, the creative arts community turned to bubble residencies to safely continue their art in quarantine. 

“The loss of work for dancers due to the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a massive void for artists who suddenly found themselves stripped of passion, purpose, income, and community. Like professional sports, the dance career is all too brief and makes this disruption profoundly devastating,” said Emil Kang, Program Director at the Mellon Foundation. “The Foundation is pleased to support dancers return to creative community and to enable continued creation in the midst of a devastatingly difficult time for so many.”

According to recent research from the National Endowment for the Arts, more than half of the nation’s dancers and choreographers were unemployed as of the third quarter of 2020, making dance the arts sector hardest hit by COVID-19. The Foundation’s bubble initiative is a way of lifting up an ailing field by providing the scaffolding to put dancers back into studios and paying them for their important work. The funding will also support the operational expenses of the bubble residencies, such as medical protocols, COVID-19 tests, and space rental.

The Mellon Foundation launched the bubble residency initiative in October 2020 with a $250,000 grant to Dance Theatre of Harlem. Following the successful execution of the residency, Mellon went on to support additional bubble residency projects that will ultimately provide funding for more than 360 dance artists, collaborators, and artistic staff.

Company Nora Chipaumire is the latest organization to receive such funding. The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts at Fairfield University will host 16 artists from Company Nora Chipaumire for three months and provide exclusive access to its studio and theater spaces.

Most of the projects developed during bubble residencies will create digital content, such as this video of Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE’s time in a bubble residency at LUMBERYARD. In some cases, digital content could serve as an earned revenue source as the sector continues to build fluency and find opportunity in the virtual space. 

The list of the artists and organizations supported can be found here:

About The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation 
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities. Since 1969, the Foundation has been guided by its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential to human understanding. The Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be found there. Through our grants, we seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive.

Organizations Supported


Laura Washington