The MAP Fund is founded on the principle that experimentation drives human progress, no less in art than in science or medicine. MAP supports artists, ensembles, producers and presenters whose work in the disciplines of contemporary performance embodies this spirit of exploration and deep inquiry. MAP is particularly interested in supporting work that examines notions of cultural difference or "the other," be that in class, gender, generation, race, religion, sexual orientation or other aspects of diversity.
The MAP Fund is generously supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
MAP awards $1 million annually to up to 40 projects. The key features of the program are:
- An open submission policy: MAP welcomes applications from artists and organizations across the US. By keeping the gates wide open, we hope to discover the freshest ideas and practices in the field, thus continuously seeding new growth.
- Panelists and evaluators who are committed to the Fund's ideals of experimentation and deep inquiry: MAP is adjudicated by artists and arts professionals who have demonstrated their own excellence of craft, leadership, and spirit of generosity to their peers. Their guiding role in MAP award selections allows the program to be nimble and responsive to movement in the field, establishing our credibility among applicants and thus encouraging artists to bring their best work forward.
- A focus on the creative individual: The MAP application centers on the creative process and is designed to let the peer panel hear directly from artists. Core components are the artist's personally written statement of purpose, biography, and work samples.
- An appreciation of the artist's process: The MAP Fund's allowable costs are designed to emphasize process. They include residency costs, research and development expenses, workshop performances, and artist travel and commissioning fees.
- A national presence: MAP believes that inclusivity is critical to the health of the field and is committed to welcoming applications from every state and region in the country.
- Awareness of career sustainability issues: In addition to the monetary award, MAP grantees receive training in professional development and strategic planning skills free of cost from the Creative Capital Professional Development Program.
The MAP Fund was launched in 1989 by The Rockefeller Foundation to support innovation and cross-cultural exploration in new works of live performance. The program exemplified its founders' efforts to "address issues of cultural difference in the United States and internationally, with an emphasis on Third World cultures," according to MAP's original guidelines.
Over the past two decades, in response to evolving notions of cultural diversity, MAP guidelines have gradually broadened to welcome artists exploring issues of class, sexual orientation, gender, generation, faith and other aspects of cultural difference. The encouragement of formal innovation and experimentation as a means of investigation has remained consistent.
Since 1989, the program has disbursed over 20 million dollars to 880 projects in playwriting, choreography, music composition, and ensemble, site-specific, and community-based performance. Projects have been undertaken in every region of the United States as well as internationally, and by conservative estimate have touched over two million audience members.
In 2001, Creative Capital began administering the program and in 2008, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation became MAP's primary funder joined by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in 2010.
The MAP Fund has been the subject of two outside evaluations. In 1999, the research firm of Adams and Goldbard undertook a broad assessment of the needs of the performance field and the specific ways in which MAP had or had not met those needs. Their research involved interviews with MAP grantees, panelists, and administrative staff, as well as with field experts who had no formal relationship to the Fund. The report concluded: "MAP is widely perceived as having made great strides toward achieving its initial aims. [It has] taken risks in supporting emerging artists who were later recognized as major contributors to the culture."
In 2007, Creative Capital commissioned Edward Martenson, professor of arts management at Yale School of Drama, to survey all lead artist and organization officials funded since 1989, and undertake one-to-one interviews with 25 selected grantee artists. The survey, sent out to approximately 500 individuals, elicited an astonishing 50 percent response rate. Martenson's report similarly concluded that MAP remains a critical resource in the field.