MAP aims to make the application process as supported as possible. If your question isn’t in FAQ + Tips, reach out to MAP staff via email, phone call, or request project description assistance.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few prompts that might be helpful when drafting a project description:
What exactly is the project, and how will it take form? If multi-faceted, which components meet the eligibility criteria of “live performance”?
How does the project resonate with MAP’s purpose to support artistic investigation/experimentation that disrupts the oppressive dominant culture in the name of cultural and social equity?
What or who are your influences?
How long might it take to create and share with the public?
How might you select collaborators for this project?
What are your methods of collaboration and creation?
Where do you want the work to take place?
What inspires you to focus on this particular project at this time?
For those creating a project that does not culminate in a conventional performance and/or who work in ways that are cyclical or non-product oriented, we recommend speaking to:
What are your longer-term artistic goals?
How do you intend to use MAP’s resources during the two-year grant period?
What is your artistic process?
We encourage applicants to share their project descriptions with peers for feedback. Should they wish to use it, our feedback methodology is outlined below.
We’ve collected tens of thousands of comments from hundreds of reviewers and panelists over the past ten years about which aspects of proposals would benefit from more clarity or detail. Their recommendations can be distilled down to six key areas:
Knowing that reviewers connect clarity in these areas to their ability to assess a proposal’s alignment with MAP’s funding goals, we’ve developed a project description assistance method to support applicants. It does not guarantee funding in any way, but it does attempt to provide a thoughtful, individualized, and artist-directed opportunity for dialogue about an application prior to submission.
We work within a specific set of parameters to generate feedback, and offer it here should anyone find it useful.
Do they speak to who, what, where, why, when, and how in roughly equal measure?
Are there any details missing that you would need in order to help the artists make the project?
Do their sequencing choices (paragraphs, sentences, etc.) make it unnecessarily difficult to understand the project?
Do they introduce a complex idea or term without explanation (i.e. make an (un)conscious assumption that the reader will know the reference)?
Is your reaction or response connected to your own taste (i.e. an impulse to shift an artistic choice they’ve made) or to supporting the clarity of the artist’s own intentions?
When taking in the applicant’s proposal, we try to absorb it from the point of view of someone who: (1) is completely unfamiliar with the artist, their work, and their aesthetics, and (2) has been tasked with helping the artist make the project.
This is key because it requires our brains to scan for sufficient detail and understanding of the applicant’s intentions. Also, in the real assessment, reviewers will be unfamiliar with many of the applicants in their docket.
From this perspective, we highlight anything that raises questions, could be restructured, or seems to be missing in terms of how the applicant could make their ideas as clear as possible.
“The majority of the description is dedicated to the ‘why’ of the project. It would be helpful to include more information about where and when the project might take place because of how connected they are to the ‘why’ of your work.”
Note: We use language like what is underlined above to signal a potential future, rather than a requirement that the artist knows this answer right now. We don’t want to subtly suggest that someone must do something in a particular way.
“I noticed that you are planning to work in public spaces. It may be helpful to speak briefly to whether or not you have secured the necessary permits from the city, and/or how you intend to navigate those kinds of bureaucratic processes. There’s no need to spend much word count on this particular detail. Including it signals that you are aware and accounting for the kinds of logistics that make producing this project more complicated.”
Note: Whenever possible, we think it’s important to speak to why we are offering a suggestion.
“The details at the end of the narrative about the performance environment, as you imagine it so far, are clear. As I read, I experienced wondering if they would be addressed. I’m curious about whether the reader would have a stronger sense of the project overall and the audience experience, if paragraph #6 came second instead of last.”
Note: Rather than say, “You should do X” or “Have you tried X” (both of which could come off as if we know better or are making an assumption that an artist hasn’t thought about something deeply), this phrasing is a more neutral way of encouraging another structural possibility.
“When you were talking about the audience intentions in paragraph #2, you mentioned ‘phenomenology of performance.’ I wasn’t sure how you were defining those terms. Just a little more detail would help me connect the dots to how that concept informs the way you collaborate with audience members.”
Note: It’s helpful to express why adding more detail could illuminate other important aspects of the proposal.
“I know you stated that it’s ‘important’ for the project to happen in a specific location, but I felt like I was missing some details about the origin of the importance.”
Note: You might think to yourself “I wish they would present this somewhere else.” These kinds of suggestions may be intuitive to you as you learn about the work, but they aren’t welcome in this context. This is offered an example of what we recommend not saying. Follow the artist’s choices and then discern if more detail or clarity is needed.
Banner: 2019 grantee Always Greener by Erin Austin, Noa/h Fields, Thrisa Hodits, Tekki Lomnicki, and Jacob Watson.