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Visiting Performer Program

Visiting Performer Program

NEW! Schools may collaborate with one or more of the following: arts organizations, artists, and county arts councils, to apply for the new Creativity Project Grant in Arts Education for out of school activities: after school, evenings, weekends, and summer. Rolling deadlines. Details here. 

The Visiting Performer Program - Awards to VP Artists and How to Book at Visiting Performer

Funding for artists is awarded based on past performance and requested funding increases/decreases, as well as available Visiting Performer AiE funds. Artists new to the VP roster start at $500, awarded once we receive the initial application submission. Unused funds are returned to the arts council before the end of the fiscal year in which they were awarded.

Through the Visiting Performer Program, schools, and other educational institutions gain assistance and financial support that encourage quality arts performances and workshops for their students. Teachers or schools may browse the Visiting Performer Roster and contact an artist to book a performance or production for students. For each booking, the artist applies MSAC funding that reduces the amount owed by the school to the artist by up to one-third, making performances more affordable for schools. A school may obtain up to three different productions per school year through the Visiting Performer Program.

AiE grants to the performers and companies listed on the Visiting Performer Program Roster of Artists make it possible for schools to obtain a limited number of performances at reduced fees. Up to one-third of the total cost of a given service may be covered by AiE funds (performer's fee + travel = total cost of the service). Up to three different productions per school year can be obtained by the school/site in this way.


To obtain AiE funding for a performance:

  1. Select a performer from the Visiting Performer Roster

  2. Contact the performer or their booking representative of record to find out which productions are offered this year and if MSAC funds are still available to subsidize a performance. When MSAC funds are exhausted, full fees apply.

  3. Make the necessary arrangements (dates, times, fees) and collaborate with the performer or their booking representative to complete the application in Smart Simple.  The application will include the MSAC subsidy amount as well as the amount owed by the school to cover the remaining cost of the performance.

  4. Attend and enjoy the performance!

  5. Complete the Final Report portion of the Smart Simple application upon completion of the performance.

  6. Applications will be reviewed quarterly.


Application to Artist in Residence and Visiting Performer Rosters

Artists who live in Maryland may apply to the Artist in Residence and Visiting Performer Rosters. The artists on this roster specialize in harnessing the arts as tools for learning and are avilable to lead hands-on intensive arts workshops in Maryland schools (Artists in Residence) or assemblies with two workshops (Visiting Performers).

Artists in Residence may apply in performing arts, playwriting, poetry, and visual arts. Visiting Performers may apply in music, dance, puppetry, and theater.

MSAC accepts applications to the rosters every two years.


  • Individual Artists who apply to the AiE program must be Maryland residents, eighteen years of age or older, must have established residence in Maryland at least six months prior to the deadline, and must continue to be residents while they serve in the AiE program. Undergraduate/graduate students are not eligible. Applications are not currently being accepted.
  • Performing Companies that apply to the AiE program must be located in the State of Maryland and must continue to be located in Maryland while they serve in the AiE program. Members of companies who are undergraduate/graduate students are not eligible.
  • All AiE artists are subject to ongoing review and evaluation.

Review Criteria

  • Artistic quality
  • Educational value
  • Relevance to curriculum


As an author, songwriter, and musician, I have been performing for children and families in Maryland schools since 1975. In recent years, the AIE funding program has allowed me to visit with a great many schools that otherwise would not have been able to afford a cultural arts program such as mine.

Just this week alone, my AIE grant helped fund performances for 900 students at a school in Greenbelt, almost 1,000 children at a school in Langley Park, and over 760 kids at a school in Montgomery county—where 95% of the students participate in the free lunch and free breakfast program at each location.

Most of the students in these schools had never met an author before or seen a performance like mine. It was great to see the excitement and the smiles at each school and to realize that my visit had had an impact.

Although I’ve never turned away any school for lack of funding, many schools in under-served communities have been helped by the AIE funding program.

I am truly grateful that this resource has made it possible for me to share my work with so many students.

Barry Louis Polisar

Barry Louis Polisar has been writing, singing, and performing for over forty years and his songs have been recorded by singers and musicians all over the world.