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Outreach & Inclusion Program

About the Outreach & Inclusion Program

Inclusion is one of the core values driving Sundance Institute’s work. The Outreach & Inclusion Program encompasses our initiatives across all programs within our organization to deepen engagement with and support of storytellers and audiences across ethnicities, genders, abilities, sexual orientations, and geographic regions. In doing so, we work to increase the diversity of projects submitted for consideration to all Institute programs—including labs, intensives, grants, and the Sundance Film Festival—and to inspire emerging artists to tell their stories.

Direct Artist Support

  • The Momentum Fellowship is a yearlong program of deep, customized creative and professional support that enables writers, directors, and producers from underrepresented communities working across fiction and nonfiction filmmaking, episodic content, and emerging media to achieve new creative and professional goals and build sustainable careers.

    The fellowship has expanded upon the success of the Women at Sundance Fellowship to include artists identifying as women, nonbinary, and transgender; artists of color; and artists with disabilities.

    The robust fellowship is made possible thanks to the generous support and strategic partnership of The Harnisch Foundation, Warner Bros. Pictures, and Adobe. It includes mentorship, professional coaching offered by Renee Freedman & Company supported by The Harnisch Foundation, an artist sustainability grant, travel to the Sundance Film Festival to participate in curated activities and bespoke year-round support. Participation in the Momentum Fellowship is by invitation only.

    Meet the inaugural class of Momentum Fellows.

  • Since 2014, the Institute has partnered with local artist organizations in the eight cities where the Knight Foundation operates (Akron, Ohio; Charlotte, North Carolina; Detroit, Michigan; Macon, Georgia; Miami, Florida; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; San Jose, California; and St. Paul, Minnesota) to provide free public programming and selection-based intensives from a variety of our artist programs.

    Sundance Institute annually selects up to four artists from Knight Foundation communities to attend the Sundance Film Festival for a curated track of professional and creative development opportunities, including film screenings, receptions, performances, panels, networking events, and facilitated meetings with industry mentors and Institute alumni.


  • The Women at Sundance program aims to discover, spotlight, and forge ways for women to succeed as storytellers who shape our cultural landscape. Together with Women In Film LA and USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, we launched the first analysis of gender composition among artists in independent film, raising awareness about the acute underrepresentation of women behind the camera. We support women filmmakers in growing and sustaining their careers through a yearlong fellowship program, financing and strategy intensives, and community events throughout the year, including our annual Women at Sundance Celebration at the Sundance Film Festival. We also collaborate in the field to activate systemic change through ReFrame, a project that partners with industry insiders to forge gender parity at every level in film, TV, and media.


  • Each year, Sundance Institute’s Indigenous Program supports the next generation of Native and Indigenous storytellers worldwide through the Merata MitaFellowship, and the Native Filmmakers Lab supports first-time directors in producing a fiction short film through a residential lab, grant, and mentorship.


  • In 2015, Women at Sundance and Women In Film LA launched the Women’s Resource Map, a user-friendly online database compiling the programs, events, workshops, and services available to U.S.-based women filmmakers. In 2019, we updated the map to include resources for artists from a broader array of underrepresented communities, currently including artists who identify as women, people of color, LGBTQ+, trans and nonbinary, and artists with disabilities. Upon launch in 2015, the resource map attracted over 12,000 viewers to the site in one month, proving its necessity in the field; we hope the updated map will be just as useful to our newly supported communities.

    Check out the Inclusion Resource Map!

    The Inclusion Resource Map is a living document and only scratches the surface of the multitude of resources currently serving artists from underrepresented communities. In the spirit of partnership, we welcome and encourage suggestions for additional resources to feature on the map. Please reach out to inclusion@sundance.org to recommend a resource.

Field-Wide Leadership

  • Race & Gender Analysis of Sundance Submissions & Acceptances

    In 2019, we collaborated with Dr. Stacy L. Smith and her accomplished team at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative to analyze the demographics of all Sundance Film Festival applicants and accepted participants, as well as that of select artist labs, across three years as a means to better understand the systematic barriers for artists from underrepresented communities.


    Barriers and Opportunities for Women Filmmakers

    Together with Women In Film LA, we commissioned first-of-its-kind research with the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. Culminating in 2015, this study analyzed gender composition among content creators from the independent film sector. Looking at data and interviews from the Sundance Film Festival and Sundance Institute lab participants, our research revealed key barriers and opportunities for women filmmakers that now form the core of the Women at Sundance program.


  • In 2018, Sundance Institute launched a first-of-its-kind Press Inclusion Initiative, designed to diversify the press corps at the Sundance Film Festival, which is critical to broadening the discourse around the Festival program and giving each film the best opportunity to find and grow its audience.

    At the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, we increased the number of top-tier press credentials reserved for critics from underrepresented communities by 20 percent and provided travel stipends to 50 of those journalists. We are pleased to report that, as a result, 64 percent of the total press in attendance at the Festival were from underrepresented communities.

    The Sundance Institute Press Inclusion Initiative is made possible by founding support from The Nathan Cummings Foundation, Emerson Collective, Ford Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Netflix, Open Society Foundations, and Rotten Tomatoes.

    For more information on the Press Inclusion Initiative, please reach out to press@sundance.org.

Cultivating Community

Sundance Institute’s Allied Organization Initiative aims to deepen our relationships and collaborations with like-minded arts organizations and companies that engage in the support and development of artists, especially emerging artists, from underrepresented communities.


The Sundance Institute Outreach & Inclusion Program is made possible by founding support from the Time Warner Foundation. Additional leadership support is provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Emerson Collective, Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation, NBCUniversal, The Harnisch Foundation, Warner Bros. Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Adobe, Ford Foundation, Jason Delane Lee and Yvonne Huff Lee, Rene and Rena Cruz—Esperanza Arts Foundation, Netflix, SAGindie, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Philip Fung—A3 Foundation, Warner Media Group, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and Open Society Foundations.