Seventh Season of Center Stage Will Include Performing Artists From Ethiopia, Philippines, and South Africa

Oct 18, 2021

Seventh Season of Center Stage Will Include Performing Artists From Ethiopia, Philippines, and South Africa

Kelsey Colcord Spitalny

Program Coordinator, Center Stage

Cultural Diplomacy Program Opens Call for Artists Due November 21, 2021

The New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) is pleased to announce the seventh season of Center Stage with a call for nominations of performing arts ensembles from Ethiopia, Philippines, and South Africa. Through a merit-based selection process, a total of six ensembles will be invited to tour the U.S. from July-December 2023.

Nominations of professional performing arts ensembles may be submitted by anyone, including presenters, artists and their representatives, U.S. Embassy personnel, regional arts organizations, state arts agencies, international institutions, and individuals in the U.S. and abroad knowledgeable about performing arts in the identified countries. Artists interested in participating may submit a nomination on behalf of their own ensemble. Multiple nominations for ensembles are accepted.


Center Stage is a public diplomacy initiative of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Center Stage creates opportunities for exchange among artists, presenters, and the public, creating alliances for exploration – and mutual understanding. As hosted by colleges and universities, festivals, music clubs, and cultural centers, ensembles travel to large cities and small towns, and engage in a range of activities from performances, workshops, and discussions, to artist-to-artist exchanges, masterclasses, and community gatherings.

Since 2012, 29 performing arts ensembles from nine nations – Algeria, Egypt, Haiti, Indonesia, Morocco, Pakistan, Tanzania, Ukraine, and Vietnam – have visited 100 different communities in 35 states and Washington, D.C. Eleven ensembles from Argentina, Armenia, Colombia, Perú, and Taiwan will tour the U.S. during the 2021-23 presenting seasons.

The Center Stage website features information about current and previous ensembles and tours.

Center Stage is a cultural exchange program designed to support professional artists. Fees are paid to each person who travels on tour. Center Stage arranges and pays for travel, lodging, per diem for meals and incidentals, and any required U.S. taxes. Participants travel on J-1 visas, and are provided with emergency medical coverage while in the U.S. A complete outline of terms and conditions will be provided to finalist candidates.



  • Demonstrate high artistic quality and accomplishment.
  • Have an interest in engaging with U.S. communities, including youth, through public and in-school performances, workshops, discussions, artist-to-artist exchanges, and social events.
  • Be comprised of two to nine ensemble members (artists and staff) who are citizens and residents of the selected countries, and 21 years or older at the time of a Center Stage tour.
  • Have previous touring experience but have rarely been seen in the U.S.
  • Have an ability to communicate electronically via email and Zoom in English.
  • Have an interest and agree to actively share their experiences through traditional press outreach, social media channels, and other virtual means.
  • Be available to tour in the U.S. for approximately one month during the period of July – December 2023.
  • Center Stage is particularly interested in professional artists creating contemporary work.

“Center Stage welcomes important new voices into our national cultural dialogue, enlarging our world, and sharing diverse, global perspectives directly with communities in the U.S., and with fans and allies abroad,” said Adrienne Petrillo, Senior Program Director at NEFA. “We look forward to engaging with artists from Ethiopia, Philippines, and South Africa.”

The selection of six groups from among the three participating countries will take into consideration diversity and mix of art forms, and logistical considerations.


All nominations will be reviewed by Center Stage staff, U.S. Embassy personnel, and a panel of artistic advisors with knowledge of the performing arts and culture in these specific countries.

All nominees will be notified of their status by email in February 2022.

Finalists will be asked to participate in zoom meetings with Center Stage staff and reviewers in March-April 2022.

Following approval by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, invitations to selected ensembles will be issued in May 2022.

Center Stage is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs with funding provided by the U.S. Government. It is administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts in cooperation with the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations. General management is provided by Lisa Booth Management, Inc.


This Bureau of the State Department promotes mutual understanding between the United States and other countries through international education and exchange programs. Through its Cultural Programs Division, the Bureau supports a variety of cultural exchange programs that support U.S. foreign policy, foster America's artistic excellence, and demonstrate America's respect and appreciation for other cultures and traditions.


Lisa Booth Management, Inc. (LBMI) realizes contemporary performing arts projects for the widest possible public. A producer, curator, and manager, LBMI’s projects have taken place in more than 500 cities in 55 countries on six continents since 1983. As general manager for Center Stage, LBMI is responsible for tour scheduling, residency planning, promotion, artist care, travel, tax, and visa arrangements, production/backline coordination, tour staffing, and 24/7 oversight.


The New England Foundation for the Arts invests in artists and communities and fosters equitable access to the arts, enriching the cultural landscape in New England and the nation.  NEFA accomplishes this by granting funds to artists and cultural organizations; connecting them to each other and their audiences; and analyzing their economic contributions. NEFA serves as a regional partner for the National Endowment for the Arts, New England’s state arts agencies, and private foundations. NEFA is the U.S. Department of State’s primary partner for Center Stage. Learn more at