Jazz Road Tours: How Presenters Tap Into This Innovative Program

Mar 24 2020

Update as of March 24, 2020




As the world responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to let you know that changes are in store for Jazz Road Tours. Over the coming days, we will be revising the national Jazz Road Tours program to reflect a rolling submission process for applications instead of the original April 21 deadline. We will be ready and prepared to accept applications on your schedule to support your tours, whether you already have dates booked or need to wait until musicians and presenters are able to plan dates again. We will provide further updates after we finish updating the guidelines and have additional news to share.


Jazz Road is South Arts’ innovative new program to support Jazz touring and creation for early and mid-career artists. It flips the paradigm of fee support programs by making grants directly to artists. To date, Jazz Road Tours (JRT) has awarded nearly $360,000 to 31 Jazz artists to help cover touring expenses, including travel, lodging, meals, and artist fees. So, what’s the angle for presenters or venues? If JRT, makes grants directly to artists, how can presenters, programmers, or talent buyers, take advantage of the program? One word: relationship.


By building on your relationships with Jazz artists, their agents, and presenters/programmers in your networks, you will position your venue as a Jazz Road partner or prospect. Start by thinking about artists you would like to present and informing them of JRT and your interest. Encourage artists on your radar to apply. Because JRT requires a minimum of three-stop tours, it’s essential to consider the routing. Who do you know that might be willing to support the artist and join the tour?


If funded, Jazz Road grants may help to reduce and, in some cases, completely offset the artist fee for the tour’s presenters. Particularly for a small, isolated, alternative, or non-traditional venue, Jazz Road Tours is a great way to minimize risk and while helping to develop a promising artist.


The JRT Grant Details

Created for emerging and mid-career artists, JRT awards of $5,000-$15,000 for tours that represent new opportunities for musicians and bands. Jazz Road gives special priority to tours in rural areas and isolated communities with limited exposure to live jazz performance.

For the current round, tours must take place between August 15, 2020 – August 14, 2021.

2020 Application deadline: Tuesday, April 21.


About Jazz Road

The goal of Jazz Road Tours is to generate more consistent jazz touring opportunities throughout the U.S. – from established jazz cities/markets to more remote areas where jazz artists want to reach new audiences and fans. The program aims to increase jazz artists’ abilities to plan and promote their tours while being adequately compensated.


South Arts created the artist-centric program to support approximately 50 tours each year. Jazz Road is made possible with support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Learn more about the Jazz Road Tour program details and grant guidelines, and check out last year’s award recipients here.