COMPOSING YOUR PROJECT DESCRIPTION
MAP’s application requires a description of the proposed project (up to 750 words). We recommend answering these questions as clearly as possible:
WHAT IS THE PROJECT?
- It sounds simple, but it’s important to let reviewers know what will be made. For some, that might mean, “I/we are making a play in three sections.” For others that are making something outside of existing categories, do your best to describe the components that you want to create.
- Give an indication of time. Is the project designed to be cyclical over the course of 10 years? Will it start and finish in two months?
- Reviewers know that these decisions are contingent upon resources, so give your best estimate of what it might be. It can change later (and we know it often will).
- Offer clear and efficient descriptions of the mediums / conventions / influences you are using. Restraint can be useful here. Saying the work will “mix poetry, burlesque, folk music, large-scale video projections and dance” can be interpreted as throwing a little bit of everything together because the project doesn’t have a clear idea in mind. If each of those elements is, in fact, essential to the piece, it’s imperative to explain precisely why.
- Be clear and convincing that the project’s ambitions are viable, especially in terms of technical expertise. If a central element is, for example, live video, and the artistic team has never before used that form of media, acknowledge that fact and talk about how (and why) they plan to incorporate the requisite expertise. If, on the other hand, this project expands on a current practice, state that clearly and describe a detailed plan for creative development in that direction.
- Avoid generic marketing language (“genre-exploding, most innovative art you’ve ever seen”). Using the words “genre-exploding” without contextualizing what that term means to the project is not helpful to reviewers.
- For applicants that don’t know what the project is yet, or may not know until much later in the process:
- Skip applying to the MAP Fund this year. Apply for a future grant cycle when more details are known. Generally, applicants who can point with specificity to the project’s vision (even if all details or collaborators are not known), are the most successful in receiving MAP support.
- If you choose to apply, use the project description to speak to any of the following:
- Offer the questions you are asking yourself at this time
- Information about your artistic practice(s)
- Intentions around audience engagement (as relevant)
- Insight into what you hope to learn or discover as the project unfolds
WHO IS INVOLVED IN THE PROJECT?
- Name the artists and partners and the contributions they are making.
- Although all collaborators do not need to be confirmed at the time of the proposal, it’s essential that reviewers understand who will shape the project.
- Depending on the kind of work being made, it may be important to address power dynamics in the development and distribution of the project.
- Talk directly about intended audiences and/or publics (if you have them), and whether or not relationships with those communities have already been established.
WHERE IS THE PROJECT TAKING PLACE?
- Describe the space / environment where the project will take place. Be as descriptive as possible, and don’t assume that reviewers and panelists will know what the named environment looks like (i.e. some reviewers may not have been to the theater or venue that was referenced). It’s helpful to say, for example, that the project may “take place in an outdoor amphitheater at sunset,” because it creates a visual context for reviewers to understand more about the project. It’s perfectly fine if that location changes later.
- For applicants that, at the time of the application, don’t know where the project will take place, we encourage you to describe the dream environment for how you’d like the work to be experienced by audience/participants. Whether or not you have secured a venue has no bearing on the reviewers’ scores.
WHY ARE YOU WORKING ON THE PROJECT?
- Use this question as a way to share your inspirations and passions behind pursuing this specific project. If the application is coming from an institutional POV, it’s important to state the organization’s interests in developing this project, and to share some insights directly from the artistic team.
- Read Aesthetic Perspectives: Attributes of Excellence in Arts for Change, which is “a framework to enhance understanding and evaluation of creative work at the intersection of arts and civic engagement, community development, and justice.” The Short Take offers a summary of the framework. Note that the 11 attributes of excellence are more fully spelled out in the Full framework, pages 15-35. You may also wish to read the Performing Artists’ Companion Guide by Mark Valdez for further ideas about how the framework may inform your thinking.
- Read through the Reviewer Packet to learn more about how reviewers are being asked to consider your application, including a template of the scoring rubric.
- We highly recommend Sondra Perl’s Composing Guidelines process for help in drafting your project narrative. It can be accessed through the City University of New York’s Compositions Commons HERE.
- MAP is offering support to applicants who would like staff to read and respond to the project description of their 2018 Round One application. Read more about this process here.