Grow Your Art Grant Winners Win Project Support From NEC

First prize of $7,500 plus project coaching from EM (Entrepreneurial Musicianship) at NEC was awarded to current student Naledi Masilo for her Dreaming Girls Music Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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Watch the Pitch Night live stream: Participants reported that watching others pitch their ideas and respond to questions was highly educational, as a "masterclass in selling your ideas" that could benefit anyone applying for grants for their work.

Students & alumni submitted 56 applications for the Grow Your Art Project Grants this year, seeking more than $350,000 in funding. 11 finalists were selected to present live at Pitch Night and were questioned by panelists including guest artist and alumna Luciana Souza, guest artist for this year's Grow Your Art Residency.

Applicants shared that the process of applying and pitching was inspiring and educational:

“If you have any desire to start your own project, this event is essentially a masterclass in selling your ideas to's rare that you get to see how a panel reacts to other pitches in comparison to yours.”

—Christopher Vu, Pinwheel Presents

“I was surprised how difficult it was to prepare the pitch. As the project creator I am so immersed in the project that it was really difficult for me to come back to the very essence of it and present it clearly in 3 minutes only! I am very grateful for the help and support of the EM department, I’d never be able to do it without their feedback.

I also learnt that I’m not alone. Pitch night showed that there are many other students and alumni who are entrepreneurs. We can learn from each other and support each other in what we do!”

—Ester Wiesnerova, Music Beyond Borders

“Pitch Night taught us a lot of things as an was our first grant together, and it forced us to clarify about our mission.”

—Tyler Bouque, Alinea

The following winners were awarded funding and project guidance from EM:

1st Prize – $7,500 – Naledi Masilo

The Dreaming Girls Project

Building on the success of The Dreaming Girls Music Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, The Dreaming Girls Project is a women and girl focused project using music to engage conversation and entice action towards meaningful social change.

Naledi Masilo

2nd Prize – $3,000 – Ester Wiesnerova

Music Beyond Borders

The 4th Music Beyond Borders Summer Workshop is a 5-day summer workshop for youth and young adults in Slovakia, and is one of the only jazz and contemporary music education platforms in Slovakia.

Ester Wiesnerova

3rd Prize – $1,500 – Derek Beckvold & Robert Jordon

Teach To Learn

Teach To Learn connects musicians across world regions through online cultural exchange programs and education services.

Derek Beckvold & Robert Jordon

Honorable Mentions – $500

Audrey Chen & Emily Brother – Tasting Notes

Dinner recitals for social impact featuring multi-course tasting menus inspired by programs of live classical music.

Bo Lee & Christopher Vu – Pinwheel Presents

Interdisciplinary collective Pinwheel is an ensemble of classically trained musicians and theatre artists booking 2020 showing of their production Magic Pearl for new music and shadow puppetry.

Larisa Bainton & Celeste Pellegrino – Due Donne Productions

Due Donne Productions presents opera through affordable, traveling productions and gives performance opportunities to young singers.


A chamber group devoted to contemporary music, presenting a concert series in its inaugural season.