American Festival Projects were developed through a multi-phase process that took at least a year.
- The prospective American Festival Project site initiated dialogue with AFP through a letter of interest. This exploratory phase also included several discussions with AFP staff and artists, and with potential local partners, about ideas for collaboration.
- The site then submitted a proposal to the American Festival Project Board of Directors, detailing project purpose, goals, and potential partners in the home community. They met face to face with AFP representatives during the process of deciding to work together.
- The producing coalition of arts organizations, community-based organizations, local agencies, civic leaders, educators, students, media makers, and artists worked together with AFP to develop programs, budgets, and fundraising plans to meet their goals.
- The American Festival Project was involved as a co-producer, through its national staff, site liaisons, and artists. AFP contributed financial as well as technical assistance through fee and site subsidies, personnel, joint fundraising, and collaborative documentation and evaluation.
- AFP artists and other touring artists participating in each project visited the site at least once to plan their residencies with the prisenter and the community partners.
- Planned performances, workshops, dialogues, and exhibitions then took place.
- Project documentation and evaluation took place throughout.
- Post-festival, the work was sustained by the local partners and with the AFP through follow-up.