Young Alumni Commissioning Project

YACP Adrienne and Ryan info session photo
Info Session
Info Session

Applicants are invited to participate in an online informational session on Thurs, Jan. 21 from 7 - 8pm. CVPA’s Director of Programming Adrienne Bryant Godwin and Associate Director of Development Ryan Braaten will review the application process, provide basic grantwriting tips, and answer any questions. This informational session will take place via Zoom Webinar and a recording will also be available online after the session concludes. To RSVP for your link to the webinar, please email Haley Smyser.

Young Alumni Commissioning Project

George Mason University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) is pleased to announce the recipients of the third round of its Young Alumni Commissioning Project Awards. Five alumni were chosen based on the artistic excellence, career impact, and feasibility of their proposals and will receive financial, marketing, and production support to have their projects presented by the College at a Mason venue during the 2021-2022 season.

Jada Salter (Film and Video Studies ’20) received the Young Alumni Commissioning Award and $5,000 in commissioning support for Just the Two of Us, a documentary about multi-Grammy award winning musician William “Bill” Salter. Nicole Daniell (Dance ‘17), Nicholas Horner (Theater ’18, MFA Candidate ‘21), Cristian Perez (Music ‘12), and Katherine Thompson (Visual Art ‘15) have received the Young Alumni Creative Development Award and will each receive $2,500 in commissioning support.

Watch the recent Young Alumni Commissioning Project Information Session

Previous Years' Winners

Project Goals

George Mason University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts Young Alumni Commissioning Project provides crucial support for our alumni’s continued artistic development. CVPA will issue up to three grants to recent alumni to support the creation of a new artistic work. The Project is made possible by a generous bequest from the estate of Linda E. Gramlich for the support of young artists, and by donors to Mason’s Giving Day, including Shugoll Research.      


  • Applicant must be a graduate of the College of Visual and Performing Arts from the class of 2010 and after.

    • Alumni having completed undergraduate and/or graduate degrees, and certificate holders are eligible, as are double majors and recognized minors.
    • Collaborative teams are eligible if one or more CVPA alumni have a key creative role in the project.
    • Current Mason staff are eligible, even if they are currently enrolled in a degree program, as long as they have also completed an undergraduate degree, graduate degree, or certificate at Mason. 

Grant Prize

Recipients may receive up to $5,000 in commissioning funds, to be used at the artist’s discretion to cover project-related expenses, including but not limited to artist fees, licensing fees, equipment rental/purchase, and travel expenses. In addition, recipients will receive venue, production and marketing support for a public presentation of the work.

Scope of Work

  • Proposals should be for an original new work in any art form, suitable for performance, exhibition, or screening in a Mason venue. Size/length/duration/magnitude/content are at the artist’s discretion, however feasibility of the project in relation to the project budget will be considered. Potential CVPA venues include Mason’s traditional theater spaces, galleries, and cinemas, but proposals for non-traditional venues will also be considered.
  • The work should be ready for public presentation during the 2021-2022 academic year and season (roughly September 2021 through June 2022). The public presentation could take many formats, from a work-in-progress showing to a fully-produced performance or exhibition.

“It's never been more important to support the work of individual artists, and so we are thrilled to extend the Young Alumni Commission Project for a third round,” shared Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, Rick Davis. “The first two years of the program proved that Mason arts alumni are ready, willing, and able to create meaning across a broad spectrum of disciplines and interests. Now, just when artists are bursting with things to say, opportunities are few and far between. We're happy to be able to do a little something about that for our alumni community.”

Rick Davis, Dean of College of Visual and Performing Arts

Application Process

  • Applications should be completed online. The deadline is 11:59pm EST on Friday, February 5, 2021. Proposals cannot be saved while being completed, so applicants are encouraged to review all questions prior to filling out the online form.
  • The online application form includes the following:

    • Project Summary: 2 – 3 paragraph project summary outlining the overall concept for the project as well as the anticipated creation timeline. Please discuss how these commissioning funds would impact your career trajectory. The panel who will be reviewing applications is made up of representatives from each of CVPA’s seven academic units: Art, Film, Music, Dance, Theater, Game Design, and Arts Management. When writing your project summary, please remember that those reviewing your application might not be an expert in your discipline.
    • Creative Team:  A list of any relevant members of the creative team with brief biographies (150 words or less). Please list each individual’s role in the proposed project, as well as the graduation year and academic program affiliation for any Mason alumni. (i.e. “Theater ’16”)
  • In addition, applicants will be asked to email two documents with supplemental information. These documents are also due at 11:59pm EST on Friday, February 5, 2021 and should be emailed to Haley Smyser.

    • PDF with Work Samples: 2 work samples in a medium appropriate to the proposed project (video, text, images, sound files, etc.). Applicants are encouraged to submit work samples from the past 3 years, if available. Please submit links to material hosted online whenever possible.

      • For video and sound files, the panel will review up to 10 total minutes of material per applicant. 
      • If submitting sheet music or a script, please ensure that the other work sample is a sound or video file.
      • Work samples may be excerpted from full-length works. If submitting longer samples, applicants should indicate the time code for the preferred sections for review.
      • For each work sample, please list the creative team involved in the creation of that work. Also, please provide a brief description of the work sample, including its creation date, and explain how it is reflective of or relevant to the proposed project.
    • Excel Document with Project Budget: Outline estimated expenses and revenue, and include budget notes as necessary to put financial projections in context of the project.  Please download this budget template and make the file name “YACP Budget_APPLICANT LAST NAME.”

      • If commissioning funds will not cover all anticipated expenses, please explain how adequate funding will be secured, and indicate whether it is confirmed or pending.
      • Please include the $5,000 commissioning funds in your budget as pending revenue.  In the budget notes section, please explain how you would modify your project if you receive less than $5,000.
      • If applicant plans to utilize Mason resources for the development of the work (i.e. equipment, rehearsal or studio space), this should be approved by the appropriate staff or faculty member before submitting the application.
      • Budgets may include fees paid to those involved with the proposed project (including the applicant).  Applicants are encouraged to research industry standard rates.

Selection Process and Criteria

  • A faculty and staff panel will review the applications and will make recommendations to the Dean, who will make the final selection.
  • Project proposals will be evaluated with the following criteria in mind:

Artistic Excellence

  • Based on the work samples, does the applicant exhibit strong creative and technical skills, related to their discipline
  • Based on the project summary, does the project:
    • exhibit a strong artistic vision
    • embody original and creative thinking  

Potential Impact on the artist’s career

  • Based on the project summary and creative team biography, would receiving this support advance the applicants’ career in a significant way?
  • Will the financial and project support provided offer meaningful assistance to the creation of the new work?
  • How does this new work advance the applicants’ larger artistic goals.

Feasibility of completion

  • Based on the project summary and creative team bios, what is the likelihood that the applicant(s) will be able to complete the project, on time and on budget?
  • Does the applicant(s) have a track record of successfully producing work?  If not, is this the right opportunity to support this next step in their career?
  • Is the project budget realistic and comprehensive?


  • The recipient(s) will be announced in April 2021.  Commissioning funds will be disbursed in one payment, and recipients are advised to consult an accountant to discuss any tax implications.


Email Haley Smyser, the Center for the Arts’ Programming and Engagement Manager.