The School of Music, Theatre & Dance EXCEL Prize recognizes extraordinary excellence in performing arts entrepreneurship, leadership and social impact. It is awarded at the annual EXCELebration in April to a University of Michigan student or student team that has established a standout performing arts venture. Beyond the cash prize of $10,000, the awardee will receive mentorship by EXCEL staff.

Current SMTD students are eligible to apply. Student ventures should be currently active in at least their second consecutive year of activity. Past Eligible Fund recipients and EXCELerator Fellows not currently in the Winter 2019 incubator cycle are eligible for consideration. Please direct questions concerning eligibility to

All applications should describe the venture, its mission, and recent activities and address the award criteria below. The complete application, including all listed components (below), must be submitted via email to by March 8, 2019.

Finalists will be required to present live pitches to the EXCEL Funding Committee on Wednesday, April 17 between 6:30-9:30PM, and the 2019 EXCEL Prize recipient will be announced at the year-end EXCELebration on Tuesday, April 23, 2019.

Application Components:

  • 750-1,000 word narrative (3-4 pages) addressing the Award Criteria below
  • Documentation of organizational status (articles of incorporation)
  • Budget projects showing how EXCEL Prize funds would be used, alongside additional income streams
  • At least one, but no more than three, faculty letter(s) of support (faculty must send directly to EXCEL)
  • Two work samples demonstrating artistic excellence, social impact, and strategic vision (video, audio, and/or print documents)

Recommendation: Faculty letter(s) of support should address the criteria below, and must be sent separately to directly from the faculty author.

The EXCEL Prize evaluation committee will consider the following criteria in determining the 2017 recipient(s). In your narrative, address the following questions:

Artistic excellence: What is the venture’s mission and how does it pursue artistic excellence?

Innovation: What component(s) of this venture stand out as innovative, entrepreneurial, and/or disruptive? This could include both social impact and/or distinctive approaches to creative arts expression. What is it doing (or how is doing it) that others are not?

Social impact: Is the social impact of the venture clearly defined? What needs are addressed? Is it developing effective solutions to pressing challenges?

Professional development: Does this venture provide significant professional development and growth potential for students? How so?

Sustainability: How will the EXCEL Prize lead to sustainability and transformative change for this organization? How will funding be used and will it help the venture to grow? Preference will be given to applications that demonstrate potential for sustainability, with clearly defined financial plans, leveraging both fiscal savvy and multiple income streams.

Diversity of venture ideas within the nomination pool will also be considered.