Calls for Artists: Next Stage


UPDATE - Applications are now closed.

2024 Next Stage Theatre Festival will take place in October 2024 at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. 

You can also access a PDF version of our Application Guide here and a Step-by-Step guide to applying here


The 2024 Next Stage Theatre Festival will present a curated program of independent theatre and performing artists chosen by the Next Stage Selection Committee. The 17th annual festival will take place in late October 2024, and be presented at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, in the heart of downtown Toronto.

The 2024 Next Stage Festival will be accepting submissions from indie artists/companies based in Canada.

The selection committee commits to reserving at least 50% of production spots for artists who are Indigenous, Black, or Persons of Colour. In late 2020 The Toronto Fringe underwent an EDI Audit conducted by Where You Are Consulting. Implementing this 50% minimum guarantee is a step to directly address some of the imbalances and gaps that exist in the demographics reflected on Fringe and Canada’s stages.



All selected companies will have the opportunity to apply for two rounds of grant cycles for OAC and TAC.  We highly recommend that selected companies use this extended timeline to their advantage. The selection committee timeline is planned to be able to send offers to applicants by the end of June 2023 at the latest. We advise you to not wait until then to begin to prepare a grant application, and collect required materials in the meantime.

OAC DEADLINES (applicant must be resident of Ontario)

Theatre Projects:

Dance Projects: 

Media Artists Creation Projects:

Find out more about grants offered by OAC here: 

TAC DEADLINES (Applicant must be resident of Toronto)

Theatre Projects: 

Dance Projects: 

Find out about more grants offered by TAC here:  



Next Stage is a curated festival, programmed by a selection committee. Applications can be submitted via the festival portal, at In addition to completing the application form, you will also need to provide:

In order to help you prepare, should you be selected to participate in Next Stage 2024, the questions we ask on the form have been crafted to be similar to those that are required for OAC and TAC project grant applications.

To begin your application: 

Cost to apply: there is a $20 reading fee to apply. If this fee is a barrier, please reach out to us. 

Application deadline: Monday March 6, 2023

Note: the final deadline to apply is Wednesday March 8, 2023 by 11:59PM EDT. We are suggesting Monday March 6th as a deadline to help conceptualize a buffer for those who may benefit from assistance with planning. 

The primary applicant (referred to as the Main Admin Contact) can submit more than one application for different projects in either series. A $20 reading fee can be applied to every individual project application. Applicants will not be selected for more than one slot in the festival if they are successful.

For a step by step guide to the application process is available here.

If you require any accessibility accommodations in order to submit your application, please contact Suzanne Wilkie at or 416-966-1062 ext. 228, and we will assist you. 

Recommended deadline to apply: Monday March 6, 2023
Final deadline to apply: EXTENDED to Sunday March 19, 2023 at 11:59PM
Selected productions will be informed by the end of June at the latest.
2024 Next Stage Festival: late October 2024

How is the festival Curated? 

Selection Committee

Each year Toronto Fringe staff invite members of Toronto’s professional performing arts community to create a selection committee to guide the curation of the Next Stage Festival, which is carried out by the Executive Director and Managing Director of the Fringe. These industry consultants are active in the sector, recognized as leaders and changemakers by our peers, and bring diverse artistic practices, lived experiences, and aesthetic influences to the process.

The selection committee for the 2024 Festival includes:

Toronto Fringe staff

Industry consultants

Selection Criteria

The Selection Committee help Toronto Fringe select:

Decision Making

While the industry consultants contribute their support and professional knowledge to endorse artists and stories which represent the breadth of Toronto’s performing arts offerings, the Toronto Fringe staff are ultimately the decision makers of which companies are presented in the festival each year. The experience, knowledge, personal and professional values of the industry consultants are deeply valued by Toronto Fringe in guiding this process and highlighting the creators for whom Next Stage is the right platform for.   

Curation Process

All submissions are assessed for:

Round 1: All submissions in each series will be divided into 5 groups randomly, with each submission read by at least two committee members in round 1. Each committee member will be assigned a group of submissions to review and score in the assessment categories before meeting to discuss all applications. This discussion session allows each member to propose the submissions they have scored highest that will advance to the second round. Discussing the applications as a group gives a more rounded understanding of the work and provides the opportunity for the committee to reconsider their initial scores.

Round 2: All submissions in this round will be read by all five committee members and independently evaluated before meeting to discuss them together. The committee will select productions that strongly align with the festival’s criteria, and which form a series that is diverse in creators, genres and artistic vision. In this stage, we are considering the work as it will be situated within the entire festival, and striving to showcase the depth and breadth of work in the sector, representing as many genres, disciplines, subject matters, and creative voices as possible. Historically the festival has programmed at least one musical, one dance piece, as well as theatre, solo storytelling, improv, comedy, and everything in between.  

2024 Next Stage Theatre Festival Selection Committee