Since the company's inception in 1984, Melanie Stewart Dance Theatre has been creating performance with a focus on devised work that includes forays into pop culture and political satire. With Center support, the company has produced six new interdisciplinary works and has worked with a consultant to restructure its nEW Festival, which supports artistic collaboration and sharing of resources among diverse dance artists in Greater Philadelphia.
Melanie Stewart developed the nEW Festival in 2003, a dance festival that supports artistic collaboration and invites shared resources between a diversity of artists with innovative creative practices and similar financial limitations. After Stewart stepped down as nEW's sole executive director, the festival needed to develop a new plan for its future. Stewart and Melanie Stewart Dance Theatre worked with arts consultant Sam Miller to create a restructuring plan that transitioned the nEW Festival from a single-director organization to one managed by a core leadership team of artists, enhancing its value within the local dance community. Miller's ties to the region extend back to his time with the Philadelphia Ballet from 1979–81 as the organization's director of development. [fn]Management grants, through the Philadelphia Cultural Management Initiative, were awarded from 2009 through 2013.[/fn]