CDSS encourages participatory arts and recreation, forming alliances with like-minded organizations to promote opportunities, to increase funding, and to influence public perceptions and regulations in ways that expand people’s access to participation.

We bring people together — at regional conferences, online, and in person, in order to cross-pollinate good ideas and resources, to create stronger communities and well-organized activities at the local and regional level.

We create and seek out projects that help innovate and preserve our dance, music, and song traditions. In addition to supporting initiatives that expose new groups to these traditions, we publish or support documentation projects — both historical and contemporary, and steward the CDSS Library and the CDSS Archives collections housed at the University of New Hampshire Library.

As part of the CDSS mission, we support leadership development across North America. Since 2006, we have co-sponsored conferences in these regions of the U.S.: Southwest, Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, and Northwest. The content has been designed in collaboration with regional organizers to provide resources for meeting the unique needs of each region. These exciting events have had far-reaching and long-lasting effects, revitalizing music and dance communities from coast to coast.

The Puttin' On the Dance 2: Hands Across the Border conference in Ottawa, Ontario, on March 20-22 was a HUGE success! See the listing below for links to the conference archives and photos from the event.

Want to help create an event for your region? Contact resources@cdss.org. Also check out the Make It Happen manual — a guide for planning leadership training events.

Northeast/Eastern Canada

northeastconfPuttin' On the Dance 2:
Hands Across the Border
Ottawa, Ontario
March 20 - 22, 2015

85 participants
Sessions for dance organizers
Conference Archive
Event Photos


southwestorganizersSouthwest Regional Organizers Conference
Albuquerque, New Mexico
September 19-21, 2014

78 participants
Sessions for dance organizers

Find out more about this event


midwestconfDancing Between the Lines:
A Conference for Midwest
Dance Callers and Organizers
Cincinnati, Ohio
August 10-22, 2012

35 participants
Sessions for dance organizers and callers


northeastconfPuttin’ On the Dance:
A Conference for Northeast Dance Organizers
White River Junction, Vermont
November 11-13, 2011

78 participants
sessions for dance organizers and sound operators

Find out more about this event


southeastconfDance the Journey:
Southeast Dance Leadership Conference
Browns Summit, NC (near Greensboro)
October 1-3, 2010

82 participants
Sessions for dance organizers and sound operators


northwestconfWest Coast Leadership Conference
Portland, Oregon
September 15-17, 2006

77 participants
Sessions for dance organizers, callers, musicians, and sound operators

CDSS has been distributing Outreach Funds since 2008 (see list of recent recipients). In the following map, each pin represents an individual or organization that has been offered CDSS outreach funding to date— in all about 235 music, dance and song communities throughout the U.S. and Canada! To apply, please refer to the online guidelines and application.


Yellow pushpin Yellow 2020   White pushpin White 2015
Teal pushpin Teal 2019   Red pushpin Red 2014
Purple pushpin Purple 2018   Pink pushpin Pink 2013
Orange pushpin Orange 2017   Indigo pushpin Indigo 2012
Magenta pushpin Magenta 2016   Green pushpin Green 2011

View CDSS Funds at Work in a larger map.

2020 Grants at Work During the Pandemic

Despite COVID-19, our CDSS Grants were busy during 2020. Prior to the pandemic, this funding primarily supported in-person events and was offered in early February, June, and October. Since COVID-19 was fast approaching around the time of our February 1 application deadline, many of the events that received our funding for that grant cycle were postponed to 2021.

In early May we started accepting grant applications on a rolling basis, which will continue for the foreseeable future. (Visit grant application materials for updates.) The following events and projects received CDSS grants in 2020:

  • Feb 15: Project to create self-sustaining Community Dance Series, including 5-Year Anniversary Dance (Arlington, WA)
  • April 16 through present: Stars in the Rafters - podcast series to provide comfort and community connections through traditional music, song, and poetry (online from Brattleboro, VT)
  • May 24: Zoom ECD Callers Workshop - training to help local callers convert to calling virtual dances (online from Folklore Society of Greater Washington, DC)
  • Dec 15: Move Together Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Training - virtual training sponsored by the DanceFlurry Organization for their board, staff, and volunteers (online from Latham, NY)
  • Jan 14-April 1, 2021: Workshop series with New England musicians - virtual lessons for the Fiddle Orchestra of Western Massachusetts (online from Northampton, MA)
  • Jan 2021: Cultural Equity Training - for CDSS Affiliates in the MI, PA, OH, WV, and NJ region (online)
  • Nov 5-7, 2021: Raise the Rafters - inclusive, accessible weekend for singers of all ages interested in traditional folk songs, singing styles, and their cultural context (Olympia, WA)

The following events received CDSS grants in 2020 and were postponed to 2021 (dates TBD):

  • Callers Workshop sponsored by Lawrence Barn Dance Association during weekend of their monthly dance (Lawrence, KS)
  • Double Dance - afternoon English Country and evening Contra Dance event in lieu of dance weekend (San Luis Obispo, CA)
  • Community-Family Dance - new intergenerational dance series at Carousel Museum (Bristol, CT)
  • Caller Intensive for ECD Leaders - regional training event to improve calling skills including program planning and calling at local evening dance (Asheville, NC)
  • Dare to Be Square - scholarships to attend weekend of square dance, music, and calling workshops (Berkeley, CA)
  • Dual Dance - advanced dance in afternoon, dinner, evening dance for all to revitalize contra dance series (Troy, MI)
  • Transylvania Square Dance series to help student music groups experience traditional music in the context of square dancing (Brevard, NC)

October 2019

  • Nov 8-10: Scholarship for Dare to Be Square West– funding to attend square dance calling workshops (Olympic Peninsula, WA)
  • Dec: Old Time Dance Party publication– instruction booklet with accompanying CD for callers, teachers, and organizations interested in learning to call square dances for their communities (Vancouver, BC)
  • Jan-Mar 2020: North Bay Country Dance Project – two new community dance series: square/contra for all ages and workshops for adults with disabilities (North Bay, ON)
  • Feb 5-Apr 25, 2020: Contra Dance training – project to introduce groups of middle and high school students to contra dance and music, culminating in community dance for entire school (St. Paul, MN)
  • Feb 29-Mar 1, 2020: English Country Dance workshops – training for ECD team that performs Regency Era dances, which boosts attendance at local English dance (Rochester, NY)
  • Apr-July 2020: Community Dance series – new program at senior center bringing together older adults, families, and young children (Baltimore, MD)
  • April 18-19, 2020: Madison Open Band Workshop – musicians' workshop to improve level of musicianship and include new musicians (Madison, WI)

June 2019

  • May 31: Community Dance – special event to bring people of all ages together to honor the passing of a valuable community member (Newtown, CT)
  • July 20: Sunderland Square Dance – new dance series with goal to work with other square dance organizers in the region to create sustainable dances (Sunderland, MA)
  • Sept 2019-April 2020: Caller Continuing Education Pilot Project – series of video/internet coaching sessions for local callers in Anchorage, AK offered remotely by Lisa Greenleaf from Bolton, MA
  • Sept 6-8: Hands Across the Water Callers’ Workshop – 3-day workshop led by Bruce Hamilton for regional ECD callers during annual dance weekend (Victoria, BC)
  • Sept 2019-Mar 2020: Community Sing Meet-ups – series of singing events at local Senior Center for participants with dementia and their care partners (Northampton, MA)
  • Sept 2019-Feb 2020: Revitalizing Providence Contra Dance – outreach project to include more youth, families, seniors, and LGBTQ community, plus building connections with local organizations (Providence, RI)
  • Oct 25-27: Dancing America Rapper Tournament (DART) – funding to support contra dance open to local community during annual sword dance weekend (Washington, DC)

February 2019

  • Feb 22: Community Dance – funding for caller and musicians to introduce disadvantaged families and all community members to family dancing (Waukesha, WI)
  • Mar 17: Rapper Dance Workshop – training for young dancers on Maple Leaf Morris team to build skills and repertoire (Norwich, VT)
  • Mar 26-27: Dare to Be Square - Kentucky – workshops for square dance callers and musicians, including professional development opportunities for public school teachers. Free admission for students from afterschool music program (near Whitesburg, KY)
  • Mar 30: Family Friendly Contra Dance & Musicians Workshop – adding family dance and "Playing for Contras" workshops to Spring Breakdown Dance Weekend (Jefferson City, MO)
  • May 19: Musicians' Workshop – group class with Jacqueline Schwab on playing for dancing, emphasizing English Country Dance music (Charlottesville, VA)
  • June 28-July 5: Compassionate Communication Contra Dance Retreat – Training for dancers, organizers, callers, and musicians to learn and practice communication skills for cultivating safety and respect on the dance floor (during Contradancers Delight Holiday dance week in Mountain City, TN)
  • Aug 23-24: Portland Social Dance Festival – first annual festival in public square to cross-pollinate dancers from different genres including contra, swing, tango, etc. (Portland, ME)
  • Oct 4-6: Community Forum – Scholarships to help leaders from ten communities in WA, MT, OR, ID and BC gather to address issues from their dance groups (during Lady of the Lake - Fall Music and Dance Weekend in Couer d'Alene, ID)
  • Nov 1-3: Additions to Dumplin’s and Dancin’ Weekend – including workshops in square dancing, singing, and stringed instrument skills (Hindman, KY)

Here is a sampling of the types of events that have received CDSS support over the years:

Training Events

  • Sun Assembly Spring Dance Weekend - English country and contra dance weekend with new aspect of including workshops for callers of both genres (NC)
  • Dancing Between the Lines - Midwest leadership conference for callers and dance organizers (OH)
  • All Contra, All Day, the Right Way - contra workshop for dancers of all levels for building skill and community (BC)
  • Contra Callers' Workshops - series of mentorship workshops for new callers with opportunities to call at local dances (NM)
  • Open Contra Dance Band Practice/Workshops - several workshops for musicians leading up to playing for final dance (RI)
  • 2nd Annual Dare to Be Square - weekend of square dancing and calling workshops (VA)
  • Impropriety Weekend - English country dance and music workshops in 3 cities in Bay area (CA)

Events with Family or Youth Focus

  • World on a String Day - cross-cultural workshops to introduce young classical music students to the wide world of traditional music (DC) - see photo at left
  • Wallowa Fiddle Tunes Camp - adding contra dance to existing week-long music camp for families (OR)
  • Youth Traditional Song Weekend - youth-focused (not youth-exclusive) participatory singing event including leadership training (MA)
  • Fall Has Sprung - backing to help annual contra festival increase youth attendance by offering sliding scale to dancers 30 and under (CA)

New Events

  • Swan's Island Community Dance - new contra dance to revive dancing on remote island (ME) - see photo at left
  • Mountain Dance Trail - revitalizing dances in 10 communities throughout West Virginia (WV)
  • Jim Thorpe Country Dance Series - start-up funding for new monthly contra/square dance (PA)

Scholarships to Non-CDSS Programs

  • Festival of American Fiddle Tunes - scholarship to attend week-long festival to participate in fiddle, piano and calling workshops (WA)
  • Cumberland Dance Week - scholarship to attend callers workshop at music and dance week including contras, English country dancing, rapper, etc. (KY)
  • BACDS American Week - matching youth scholarships for dance week including contras and squares, couple dancing, music workshops, etc. (CA)

Logo Usage

CDSS grant recipients must use the CDSS logo on their printed materials, website or blog. When included on a web page, blog or social media site, link the logo to the CDSS website, www.cdss.org. (If you are not a grant recipient and wish to use the CDSS logo, please contact admin@cdss.org.)

The logo is available in two versions, horizontal and square, in either 2C or B&W (K). It must be produced as shown without alteration.

Instructions for Downloading Files:

Click on the link below the logo you want and the logo will open in another browser window. Then follow the instructions below

PC users: Right-click on the link below the image you desire and select 'Save Target As' or 'Save Link Target As' to save the file to your desktop or appropriate folder. 

Mac users: Control-click on the link below the image you desire and select "Save Link As" to save the file to your desktop or appropriate folder.

CDSS Grants

Our Grant funds typically support events and projects that include in-person participation. Since demand for such funding is low during the pandemic, we are currently accepting applications for the following categories on a rolling case-by-case basis, as finances allow:

  • equity and anti-racism training for organizers or communities
  • publishing instruction materials (print, web, audio, video)
  • related endeavors that will have a lasting effect on dance, music, and song communities

For ​application information and updates, watch this space and keep an eye on the New & Noteworthy section on our homepage. Questions? Email resources@cdss.org.

CDSS Outreach Funds are available to support a wide variety of programs and projects that foster the growth of traditional dance, music and song with roots in English and North American culture.

Who Can Apply for This Funding?

Individuals and groups who are:

  • organizing events (workshops, weekend events, conferences, festivals, etc.) for one or more of these purposes:
    • to offer leadership training for callers, musicians, singers and/or event organizers
    • to encourage youth involvement
    • to create new events
  • publishing instruction materials (print, web, audio, video)
  • in need of scholarships to attend non-CDSS programs
  • involved in related endeavors that will have a lasting effect on the dance, music and song communities.

Preference is given to CDSS members and group affiliates and to applicants who have not previously received CDSS funding. However, all are welcome to apply. For questions about the suitability of your application, contact resources@cdss.org or 413-203-5467 x105. See Our Funds at Work for glimpses of events and projects that have been supported by CDSS.

Things to Consider When You Apply...

  • CDSS support is offered as seed money in hopes that events and projects seeking this funding will become self-supporting. Preference is given to first-time applicants.
  • Since our funding is limited, the focus of the CDSS Grants Program is to help events/projects with program-related expenses (callers, musicians, workshop leaders, etc.), rather than operational expenses (publicity, supplies, etc).
  • We encourage applicants to pursue additional support from other sources prior to applying. These partnerships indicate that your project has a wider base of support, making it more sustainable over time.
  • CDSS funding is available in these two forms:
    • Grants are offered prior to an event or project, especially to help cover any advance expenses. Any amount that is not needed is returned to CDSS to support other worthy endeavors.
    • Financial backing, or “safety net” funding, is provided after an event/project if it does not break even. To receive this support, a follow-up report must be submitted to CDSS within one month after the event/project, including the financial outcome indicating how much funding is needed.
  • Since a set amount is budgeted for each application period, funding amounts vary depending on how many applications are received for any given deadline (February 1, June 1, October 1). Our typical range is $200-$500, with occasional larger grants for events/projects designed to have a broad impact.
  • Learn more about CDSS by perusing our website. Our 990 is available on Guidestar.


Before event:

  • Acknowledge CDSS support in any print and online publicity, including our logo and a link to our website. For example, “This event (or project) is supported in part by the Outreach Fund of the Country Dance and Song Society, www.cdss.org." Include the CDSS logo available on our website.
  • Arrange to have skilled photographers take quality photos during your event/project (and video if possible).

During event:

  • Make announcements to acknowledge CDSS support.
  • Make CDSS promotional materials available. (These will be sent from CDSS).
  • Have photos (and video) taken.

After event:

  • Submit follow-up report within one month, including successes, challenges, feedback from participants, financial outcome, etc. Include photos (and video) with corresponding names(s) of photographer(s), so we can provide credits.
  • Provide a list of anyone helping to organize your event/project, including contact information. Also return the mailing list sign-up included in your promotional materials.

CDSS Outreach Funds

The CDSS Grants Committee will consider your application and decide if your project/event is eligible for support from any of the following Outreach Funds for these purposes:

  • CDSS Outreach Fund and New Leaders, Good Leaders Fund: for events to train dance leaders, musicians, singers, and event organizers, and/or to foster youth involvement. Read more
  • May Gadd/Phil Merrill Fund: to help start new events (weekends, festivals, conferences, etc.); scholarships for CDSS programs. Read more
  • Mary Kay Friday Leadership Fund: 
for training dance leaders, callers, and musicians. Read more
  • Chuck Ward Musicians Training Fund: to support training programs for novice and experienced English country dance musicians. Read more

Grant Application Process

Application deadlines are normally February 1, June 1 and October 1, but we are currently accepting applications on a rolling basis. Since recipients are required to mention CDSS support in any publicity (see above), plan to apply for an upcoming deadline that is at least 1-2 months before you will start promoting your event/project.

Click here to access the online application form and follow the prompts. You will be notified when we have received your application. If you have not received notification within a few days, contact resources@cdss.org or 413-203-5467 x105. 

How CDSS Can Help You

Are you involved in...

  • contra dancing
  • English country dancing
  • morris dancing
  • folk singing
  • other forms of traditional music and dance that originated in England or the United States?

Are you or your local group interested in planning an event, project or publication that will introduce or enhance these traditions in your community or region?

If your answer to these two questions is yes, we'd like to help. CDSS is committed to supporting individual and group efforts to create and enrich traditional dance and music communities from coast to coast. Here are ways we can help:

  • listen to your ideas and offer logistical advice
  • refer you to online resources
  • put you in touch with others who have organized similar events/projects
  • help with publicity through the CDSS newsletter and website

We also offer financial assistance in a variety of ways:

  • Grants and financial backing — To learn about or apply for this funding, see CDSS Outreach Funds. For a selection of events and projects we have previously supported, see Our Funds at Work.
  • Scholarships — We offer scholarships for individuals attending our summer Dance, Music & Song Camps, including some specifically for our affiliated member groups. (Scholarships for non-CDSS programs are available through our grants program.)

CDSS provides funding focused in the following areas based on our mission:

  • Creating new opportunities and community collaborations
  • Offering useful skills and resources to boost dance communities
  • Supporting organizations to transform their operations and/or strengthen financial stability


After you've read our online information, if you still have questions feel free to contact resources@cdss.org or 413-203-5467.

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